Last Revised: August 2018
Official Statistics and Statistical
Recent Writings and Essential
We provide below citations and links to recent articles, papers, and
documents related to the use of official statistics to target individuals and
members of vulnerable population subgroups, and to related issues of
statistical confidentiality, particularly in wartime. We invite comments on
this site and the issues raised in the writings and
documents available on the site. We also invite those with further information
on any of the incidents covered in these writings or with information about
other misuses or potential misuses of population data systems and challenges to
respondent confidentiality protections to share this information.
Comments on this site and further information may be sent
to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that
some of the linked files are quite large and may take some time to appear.
Relevant Writings and Presentations
- Margo Anderson, “Public Management of Big Data: Historical Lessons from the 1940s,” Federal History (2015): 17-34.
- William Seltzer, The Role of Ethics in a
Federal Statistical Agency, A presentation at the US Census Bureau, June
The Census in American
History, A presentation at the U.S. Census Bureau, June 10, 2010
Margo Anderson and William Seltzer,
"Federal Statistical Confidentiality and Business Data: Twentieth Century
Challenges and Continuing Issues,"
Journal of Privacy and Confidentiality
1 (Spring 2009), pp. 7-52; Comment on Article by
Anderson and Seltzer, by C. L. Kincannon, pp. 53-54;
Rejoinder, by M. Anderson
and W. Seltzer, pp. 55-58.
"Murky Waters: Some Observations on Government
Surveillance and the Current State of Statistical Confidentiality in the UK
Statistical System," Prepared as a background
note for distribution to participants at the 26-27 September 2008
"Themes and Tasks in the History of Identification" Oxford University.
William Seltzer and Margo
Anderson, "Using Population Data Systems to Target Vulnerable Population
Subgroups and Individuals: Issues and Incidents," in Statistical Methods for
Human Rights, Jana Asher, David Banks, and Fritz S. Scheuren, eds. (New
York: Springer, 2008), pp. 273-328.
- William Seltzer and Margo
Confidentiality under the Second War Powers Act (1942-1947),"
Paper prepared for the Annual Meeting of the
Population Association of America,
March 30, 2007, New York,
- Margo Anderson and William
Seltzer (2007). "Challenges
to the Confidentiality of U.S. Federal Statistics, 1910-1965." †Journal of Official Statistics.
23(1): 1-34. †Incident
- _____________________ (2006).†
of Habermann, ‘Ethics, Confidentiality and
Data Dissemination.’” Journal of Official
Statistics. 22(4): 641-49.
- ______________________ "Federal Statistical
Confidentiality and Business Data: Twentieth Century Challenges and
Continuing Issues," Paper presented at the meeting of the Federal
Committee on Statistical Methodology,
- William Seltzer, "Official
Statistics and Statistical Ethics: Selected Issues," paper
prepared for the International Statistical Institute, 55th Session, 2005.
- ____________, "On
the Use of Population Data Systems to Target Vulnerable Population
Subgroups for Human Rights Abuses," Coyuntura
Social, No. 32, June 2005, pp. 31-44.
- William Seltzer and Margo
and the Patriot Act," Paper presented at the Joint Statistical
Meetings, New York,
August 2002. Abridged version available in 2002
ASA Proceedings, pp. 3153-56.
- _______________, "The Dark Side
of Numbers: The Role of Population Data Systems in Human Rights
Abuses." Social Research, Summer
2001, Vol. 68 Issue 2, pp. 481-513.
- William Seltzer, "U.S. Federal
Statistics and Statistical Ethics: The Role of the American Statistical
Association’s Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice,"
Paper based on a presentation at the Washington Statistical Society,
- William Seltzer and Margo
Pearl Harbor: The Proper Use of Population Data in Time of War,"
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of
America, Los Angeles, CA, March 2000, also available at the American
in History site.
- ______________, "Excluding Indians
Not Taxed: Federal Censuses and Native-Americans in the 19th
Century," Paper presented at the Joint Statistical Meetings, Baltimore,
MD, August 1999.
- William Seltzer, "Population
Statistics, the Holocaust, and the Nuremberg Trials," Population
and Development Review, Vol. 24, No. 3. (Sep., 1998), pp. 511-552.
Related Education and Training Materials
Using Government Statistical Systems to Target Businesses and Vulnerable
Population Groups: Examples and Issues, Presentation at session on Data
Confidentiality and Privacy Issues, GAO brown bag seminar, Washington, DC,
June 11, 2013
Professional Ethics and the Work of a National Statistical Office: A Short
Course, 2 April 2010. A stand-alone course adapted and updated from
material presented in part #2 of the short course on Professional Ethics
(Short Course #12), presented at 57th session of the International Statistical
Institute in Durban, South Africa, August 2009
A Userís Guide to a Short Course on Professional Ethics and the Work of a
National Statistical Office, 2 April 2010. A somewhat revised version of
this Users Guide will appear in a special issue of the Statistical Journal of
the International Association of Official Statistics, "Official Statistics and
Ethics," (Vol. 27, Nos. 1-2, 2011).
Professional Ethics and the Work of a National Statistical Office,
Part 2 of Short Course #12 on Professional Ethics, presented at the 57th
session of the International Statistical Institute in Durban, South Africa,
William Seltzer, Demography,
Human Rights and Ethics (Syllabus), Fall 2006, Fordham University, Department of
Sociology and Anthropology
- International Statistical
Institute, Declaration on
Professional Ethics, 2010.
- United Nations Statistics
Principles of Official Statistics, 2014.
- Office of Management and
Providing for the Confidentiality of Statistical Information,"
Federal Register, Vol. 62, No. 124, June 27, 1997, pp. 35044-50.
- American Statistical
Guidelines for Statistical Practice, August 1999.
- Committee on National
Statistics, National Academy of Sciences, Principles and Practices for
a Federal Statistical Agency, Sixth Edition (Washington,
DC: National Academy Press, 2017)
Statistical Confidentiality in Law
Statistical Confidentiality in Wartime: Changes to Established
- Second War Powers Act,
1942, P.L. 507, 77th Congress, 2d Session (S2208), Approved March 27,
1402; and Executive Order No. 9157, Regulations with Respect to the
Making Available of Records, Schedules, Reports, Returns and Other
Information by the Secretary of Commerce, and with Respect to the Use
Thereof after the Same Have Been Made Available, May 9, 1942.
- Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools
Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA
Patriot Act) Act of 2001, Public Law 107-56, 107th Congress, Section 508,
115 Stat 368.
for Education Statistics, NCES Statistical