From left to right: Bjørn Erik Thon (The Norwegian Data Protection Authority), Svein Johansen (Statistics Norway), and Atle Alvheim and Ørnulf Risnes (NSD). Photo: The Norwegian Data Protection Authority
Microdata.no won data protection award
As one of two finalists, it was the solution developed by NSD and SSB that won the Norwegian Data Protection Authority’s (DPA) competition for built-in personal data protection in digital applications.
In their statement, the jury emphasized that the access that microdata.no provides researchers in Norway is internationally unique. The online service provides immediate access to register data on a large scale, with a built-in solution that protects personal data.
Easy access to valuable data
Norway has a well-developed and documented system for using data from public registers to produce statistics, a service provided by Statistics Norway (SSB). These data are valuable for research, but privacy considerations have made the process of gaining access long and expensive.
Norwegian Centre for Research Data (NSD) has long experience with depositing data and developing systems for accessing them – as open as possible, as closed as necessary.
Together, SSB and NSD took on the task of creating a digital tool that would provide researchers and students with easier access to register data. Microdata.no was ready to be launched in May 2018, after five years of development.
On March 18th the solution won the award for “Built-in data protection in practice 2018” from the Norwegian Data Protection Authority, in competition with high level contestants.
From the jury’s statement:
Through the research infrastructure microdata.no, NSD and SSB have developed new technology that eliminates the personal data protection hazard in microdata research, whilst simultaneously providing researchers with faster and far more affordable access to these data.
Norway is the first in the world to provide this infrastructure. The contribution has great importance and wide application, with potential for expanding to new areas.
A groundbreaking solution for privacy
What makes microdata.no groundbreaking is that the service enables the use of non-anonymized data through a platform that ensures confidentiality.
The platform is interactive and ensures that all output from the system is anonymous. The measures and techniques that prevent the data from being identifiable on a personal level have minimal impact on interpretation and analytical results.
Microdata.no is developed with support from The Research Council of Norway. The database contains information about 10 million people, dating back to 1967, including information about education, income, employment, health, etc.
An application for developing the service with new functionality and more data was sent in October 2018.