Census Bureau’s use of ‘synthetic data’ worries researchers

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Some researchers are up in arms about a U.S. Census Bureau proposal to add privacy protections by manipulating numbers in the data most widely used for economic and demographic research. Bureau statisticians disclosed at a virtual conference last week that they’re working on developing a method to create “synthetic data” for files already devoid of personalized information on individuals and homes. The bureau is already adding “noise,” or small errors, in the 2020 Census results to protect people’s privacy. Critics say this new “synthetic data” proposal is again challenging the bureau’s credibility as a provider of accurate information about the U.S. population. 

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