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Less sensation, more detail - a new way to protect sensitive data


On 28 December 2021, in response to the incident when open data sets published by Statistics Lithuania may have been used in trying to trace the treatment facility of a minor who died of COVID-19, we temporarily reduced the detail of the published data. Since that date, all COVID-19 datasets have temporarily shown no location and gender characteristics of all children (infected, vaccinated, deceased).

Over January, Statistics Lithuania’s Confidential Data Management Working Group developed a more appropriate approach to reduce the risk of irresponsible use of open data, while maintaining the level of detail in published data.

A new method – "veil of dignity" for data

To prevent open data sets from becoming a means of facilitating the search for redundant information on rare events and their participants, a so-called “veil of dignity” is being applied: all new death certificate records are automatically checked every morning searching for deaths of persons under 20 years of age from COVID-19. When a record of such death is found, the only feature of these victims that describes the area (municipality of residence, polyclinic, etc.) is protected for twelve months in all data sets.

At present, the "veil of dignity" protects only the character of the place of the two dead children. In the future, we will monitor data users and respond to irresponsible use of data by expanding the list of such special/rare events and the application of the "veil of dignity". In the event of a new incident, the detail of open data may be temporarily reduced again pending the completion of the "veil of dignity" rule.

What is changing as of today’s date?

Location and gender characteristics of approximately two hundred thousand infected, dead, or vaccinated children were temporarily unavailable in the open data sets in January. As of today, only the location indication of children who have died from COVID-19 is not shown, which is just two cases. The indication is automatically restored 12 months after the date of death. The Numbers of events themselves (infections, deaths, vaccinations, etc.) in the data have never been and are not changed.

We call for responsible use of open pandemic data. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Statistics Lithuania’s data analysts by email [email protected].

Detailed COVID-19 data sets can be found here: https://osp.stat.gov.lt/covid-open-data.

 

Contact info:

Tel. (+370 5) 236 4888
El. p. [email protected]