Census appoints privacy exec

Census Bureau's Data Protection and Privacy Policy Web site

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Gerald Gates, who helped establish the Census Bureau's data protection and privacy policy, was named the agency's first chief privacy officer today.

A 33-year agency employee, Gates played a significant role in helping create the agency's data stewardship program to protect the confidentiality of data collected and adhere to federal laws. In his new role, he will communicate the program's vision, principles and policies and work with various privacy and data user groups in addition to congressional staffs and others as agency officials prepare to conduct the 2010 Census.

"Privacy, confidentiality and the security of the information we collect from households and businesses across the nation are top priorities at the Census Bureau," Gates said in a press release. "It is clear that privacy concerns will play an increasing role in the Census Bureau's future, and I will do all in my power to further strengthen protections, educate our employees and assure the public that their information is confidential and used solely to produce high-quality statistics."

An expert in privacy and confidentiality issues, Gates has authored "numerous papers on privacy research, perceptions of confidentiality, and alternatives for providing access to statistical data," according to the release. He was chairman of an interagency team that proposed privacy principles and governmental strategies for protecting privacy for the National Information Infrastructure (NII).

The NII was a Clinton administration initiative envisioned as "the integration of hardware, software and skills that will make it easy and affordable to connect people with each other, with computers and with a vast array of services and information resources," according to a 1993 executive order.

Gates also served for four years as the U.S. representative to the Council of Europe Working Party, which developed recommendations for protecting personal data and statistics.

In related news, Census officials also announced they are providing new information about their data stewardship program. The site will contain information about how it protects data collected from surveys and censuses, among other things.

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