IPUMS International distributes integrated microdata of individuals and households only by agreement of collaborating national statistical offices and under the strictest of confidence. Before data may be distributed to an individual researcher, an electronic license agreement must be signed and approved.

To gain access to the data, a researcher must agree to the following:

Once a project is approved, a password is issued and data may be acquired through the Internet. Penalties for violating the license include: revocation of the license, recall of all microdata acquired, filing of a motion of censure to the appropriate professional organizations, and civil prosecution under the relevant national or international statutes.

These safeguards mirror the principles from the Joint ECE/Eurostat Work Session on Statistical Data Confidentiality. Employees of the Minnesota Population Center who work with the census microdata to produce the harmonized database also sign agreements to respect the confidentiality of the data.

IPUMS International works with each country's statistical office to minimize the risk of disclosure of respondent information. The details of the confidentiality protections vary across countries, but in all cases, names and detailed geographic information are suppressed and top-codes are imposed on variables such as income that might identify specific persons. In addition, IPUMS International uses a variety of technical procedures to enhance confidentiality protection. These include the following:

The safety record for public-use census microdata is apparently perfect. In almost four decades of use, there has not been a single verified breach of statistical confidentiality. The measures implemented by the IPUMS-International are designed to extend this record.

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