The Australian Bureau of Statistics and releasing frequency tables via a remote server



Publication Details

Chipperfield, J., Gow, D. & Loong, B. (2016). The Australian Bureau of Statistics and releasing frequency tables via a remote server. Statistical Journal of the IAOS, 32 (1), 53-64.


Important questions can be answered using frequency tables. However, when publishing or releasing frequency tables, many data custodians are legally required to ensure that the risk of disclosing information about a person or organisation is acceptably low. A relatively recent way of releasing frequency tables is via a remote server. A remote server automatically responds to queries on the micro-data that are submitted by analysts, but it does not allow analysts to view the underlying micro-data. The challenge is to develop an automatic response to queries that has an acceptable disclosure risk \textitand releases tables that are useful to analysts. This paper describes the methodology underlying the Australian Bureau of Statistic' remote server, called TableBuilder, for releasing frequency tables. We introduce a framework for measuring the disclosure risk of allowing analysts access to micro-data via TableBuilder. We apply this framework to meaure the disclosure risk of micro-data created by linking the Australian Population Census to administrative migration data, supplied by the Australian Department of Immigration and Customs. We conclude that a remote server provides a very effective balance between disclosure risk and utility.

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