This Case Study presents the mana=
gement issues at the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia (SORS) =
associated with the release of microdata for research purposes. In this fra=
me SORS thoroughly differentiate between access and transmission of microda=
Tasks of the Data Confidentiality Committee and the system of rul=
es and procedures regarding the release of microdata to researchers are her=
According to the procedure described, the Director-Gen=
eral of SORS has the necessary advice before deciding on the release of mic=
rodata to researchers and all the researchers are treated in the same stand=
- It provides the necessary advice to the Director-General of SORS before=
deciding on the release of microdata.
The Data Confidentiality Committee as an advisory body is composed =
of experts from different fields (statisticians, expert for a statistical d=
isclosure control, dissemination and lawyer) and can provide an opinion reg=
arding the release of microdata from different point of views.
- All researchers are treated in equal way.
The rules for release of microdata, forms of request and examples o=
f contract provisions and declarations of data protections are published on=
- Trust in SORS regarding confidentiality of data is maintained.
- SORS=E2=80=99s staff are well informed about the procedure and can moni=
tor the decision process and outcome which is applied in a routine fashion.=
p; Data Confidentiality Committee<=
The Data Confidentiality Committee deals with the problems o=
f data confidentiality at SORS and was established as an advisory body of t=
he Director-General of SORS.
The Data Confidentiality Committee has t=
he following tasks:
- to take care of the implementation of the Rules on Protection of Data c=
ollected by the program of statistical surveys on SORS;
- to deal with various matters and to give advice to the Director-General=
of SORS regarding issues that cannot be solved by general rules from the f=
ield of data confidentiality;
- to report to the Director-General of SORS and the Statistical Council o=
f the Republic of Slovenia regarding the situation in the field of data pro=
tection at SORS.
With reference to its tasks, the Data Confidentiality Committee ado=
pts findings, positions and opinions and forwards them to the Director-Gene=
ral of SORS. Members of the Data Confidentiality Committee are experts from=
SORS and authorized producers of national statistics as well as external d=
ata protection experts. Committee members are appointed by the Director-Gen=
eral of SORS.
bsp; The system of rules and procedures regarding the rele=
ase of microdata to eligible users
4.2.1 Organizational rules and=
On its website SORS publishes forms of requ=
est for obtaining microdata, examples of contract provisions and declaratio=
ns of data protections, which researchers need to sign.
her needs to fulfill a request for obtaining microdata. This request contai=
ns information on the research proposal (purpose of the statistical analysi=
s, brief description of the statistical analysis, data source-statistical s=
urvey, variables from individual sources, what software will be used for st=
atistical data analysis) and information about the researcher (name and sur=
name, researcher=E2=80=99s registration number, researcher=E2=80=99s profes=
A request received is then transmitted to the Dat=
a Confidentiality Committee, which prepares the opinion about the possibili=
ty of releasing the requested microdata and forwards it to the Director-Gen=
eral of SORS for approval. The Data Confidentiality Committee takes into ac=
count all aspects of a research proposal: the proposal itself, the sensitiv=
ity of variables requested and a mode of microdata release.
may be released only after signing the contract and the declaration of dat=
a protection by a researcher.
In preparing the data, subject matter s=
pecialist must take into account the »need to know principle«.<=
4.2.2 Rules for the releas=
e of non-anonymised microdata
Release of =
microdata within the system of national statistics
ractice: for implementing the Annual Program of Statistical Surveys, it is =
possible to exchange microdata between SORS and authorized producers of the=
program of statistical surveys.
b. Release of microdata collected with combined ques=
tionnaires to partner institutions
In some cases SORS sen=
ds together with one of the government institutions to the reporting units =
a combined questionnaire, thus decreasing the burden of reporting the same =
or similar microdata twice to government institutions.
SORS collects microdata with a combined questionnaire together with a part=
ner institution only if SORS and the partner institution have a legal basis=
to do this and if SORS=E2=80=99s interest is not threatened by this method=
of microdata collection.
The legal basis for microdata collection by=
SORS and a partner institution must be printed on the questionnaire and th=
e information letter must explain the purpose of microdata collection for t=
he partner institutions.
c. Release of microdata to observations units requesting own=
In some cases observations units ask SORS for =
their own microdata that they sent to SORS in the past.
: if SORS has these microdata, it transmits them to the observation unit wi=
thin its technical and financial capacity. Each observation unit needs to p=
rove its identity.
d. Release of microdata about their members to commercial and inte=
To rationalize microdata collection and=
decrease the burden of reporting units, some commercial and interest assoc=
iations do not collect microdata for various analyses themselves but ask SO=
RS to transmit these microdata to them.
Good practice: SORS transmits=
individual microdata on a member of an association only after obtaining wr=
itten consent from the member concerned.
e. Release of microdata for the purpose of i=
For the purpose of interviewing SORS may tran=
smit to registered scientific research organizations and registered individ=
ual researchers only the following personal microdata: name and family name=
, address, year of birth, sex and occupation (Article 41, Para. 2 of Nation=
al Statistics Act).
Rules for the release of anonymised microdata
of microdata to scientific research institutions and individual researcher=
Good practice: microdata for scientific research and analytica=
l purposes (secondary data analysis) are transmitted only to scientific res=
earch institutions and registered researchers that can prove their registra=
b. Release of microdata to researchers in government bodies=
Government bodies are statistical microdata users that have gre=
at and specific needs for microdata, so SORS facilitates their work regardi=
ng policymaking by enabling them to use microdata.
Good practice: mic=
rodata are transmitted to the government body if the purpose of microdata u=
se is research or analysis.
The request is denied if the purpose of m=
icrodata use is to determine administrative advantages or disadvantages for=
business entities or natural purposes.
c. Release of microdata t=
o researchers of Bank of Slovenia
Good practice: microdata for a=
nalytical purposes only are transmitted to researcher in Bank of Slovenia.<=
d. Release of microdata to social science data archives<=
p>By transmitting microdata to data archives, SORS enables analytical and r=
Good practice: microdata transmitted to various social =
science data archives have the highest level of confidentiality based on th=
e contract between SORS and the data archive.
p; National Statistics Act
The main legal base is the National Statistics Acts which shall be =
implemented on the different principles among others on statistical confide=
ntiality (Article 2, Para. 1).
The professional tasks performed by th=
e SORS within the framework of its basic functions shall among other develo=
p methods and techniques for data protection (Article 7).
on of data by the SORS to the users shall be carried out in such a way that=
the reporting unit involved cannot be identified. SORS may use such data f=
or creating samples and for statistical analyses only in such a way that th=
e reporting units involved cannot be identified (Article 34, Para. 6).<=
p>For the purpose of conducting surveys, SORS may transmit to registered sc=
ientific research organizations and registered individual researchers only =
the following personal microdata: first name and family name of an individu=
al, his/her place of residence, year of birth, sex and occupation (Article =
41, Para. 2).
SORS or authorized producers shall transmit individual =
data to users on the basis of written application; this, however, will be c=
arried out in such a way that the reporting unit involved cannot be identif=
ied (Article 47, Para.1).
Statistics may be published in aggregate fo=
rm only, by way of exception, data may also be published individually:<=
p>- upon written consent of the reporti=
ng unit as regards publication of the data in such a away;
sp; if the data have been collected from public (ge=
nerally accessible) data collections (records, registers, databases, etc.);=
- if data are published in such =
a way that the person or business involved cannot be directly identified (A=
p; Personal Data Protection Act
This Act d=
etermines the rights, responsibilities, principles and measures to prevent =
unconstitutional, unlawful and unjustified encroachments on the privacy and=
dignity of an individual (hereinafter: individual) in the processing of pe=
rsonal data. Every release of microdata must therefore take into account re=
levant provisions of this Act as long personal data are at stake.
ules on Protection of Data Collected by the Program of Statistical Surveys =
By transmission of data to the users the principle =
of statistical confidentiality must be considered. The principle of statist=
ical confidentiality means, that no data, that could allow direct or indire=
ct identification of the observation unit (Article 14, Para. 2).
research purposes registered research institutions and researchers have the=
right to obtain statistical protected microdata. For analytical purposes g=
overnment institutions and the Bank of Slovenia have the right to obtain st=
atistical protected microdata (Article 19).
Microdata for research an=
d analytical purposes can be obtained only after signing the contract which=
provides the position of a researcher, the purpose of statistical analyses=
, provision on data protection and a mode and timing of publication of anal=
yses. The proposal for signing a contract is discussed by the Data Confiden=
tiality Committee; final decision is adopted by the Director-General (Artic=