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Why the Economics Profession Must Actively Participate in the Privacy Protection Debate

Author

Listed:
  • John M. Abowd
  • Ian M. Schmutte
  • William N. Sexton
  • Lars Vilhuber

Abstract

When Google or the U.S. Census Bureau publish detailed statistics on browsing habits or neighborhood characteristics, some privacy is lost for everybody while supplying public information. To date, economists have not focused on the privacy loss inherent in data publication. In their stead, these issues have been advanced almost exclusively by computer scientists who are primarily interested in technical problems associated with protecting privacy. Economists should join the discussion, first, to determine where to balance privacy protection against data quality; a social choice problem. Furthermore, economists must ensure new privacy models preserve the validity of public data for economic research.

Suggested Citation

  • John M. Abowd & Ian M. Schmutte & William N. Sexton & Lars Vilhuber, 2019. "Why the Economics Profession Must Actively Participate in the Privacy Protection Debate," Working Papers 19-09, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:19-09
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    File URL: https://www2.census.gov/ces/wp/2019/CES-WP-19-09.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gary Benedetto & Jordan C. Stanley & Evan Totty, 2018. "The Creation and Use of the SIPP Synthetic Beta v7.0," CES Technical Notes Series 18-03, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    2. John M. Abowd & Ian M. Schmutte, 2019. "An Economic Analysis of Privacy Protection and Statistical Accuracy as Social Choices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(1), pages 171-202, January.
    3. John M. Abowd & Ian M. Schmutte, 2015. "Economic Analysis and Statistical Disclosure Limitation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 46(1 (Spring), pages 221-293.
    4. Alessandro Acquisti & Leslie K. John & George Loewenstein, 2013. "What Is Privacy Worth?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(2), pages 249-274.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • C80 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - General
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations

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