Statistics Canada is facing increasing demands from researchers for access to detailed microdata. In recent years, Statistics Canada has looked at ways to meet these demands balancing at the same time the legislative requirement to protect the confidentiality of respondent data. One option that Statistics Canada has decided to develop is a Real Time Remote Access (RTRA) Application which is already used by a number of other statistical agencies throughout the world. This application is essentially an on-line remote access facility allowing users to run, in real time, data analyses on microdata or lightly masked microdata sets, defined as confidential under the Statistics Act, that are kept in a central and secure location under the control and care of Statistics Canada.
A privacy impact assessment of the pilot version of the Real Time Remote Access Application for Household Cross Sectional Surveys was conducted to identify any privacy, confidentiality and security issues, and if so, to make recommendations for their resolution or mitigation.
The model developed for the current prototype of the application is similar to the one used by the National Center for Health Statistics in the United States. A limited number of researchers in other federal government departments are issued a username and password so they can remotely submit SAS programs to a secure Statistics Canada server. The submitted job requests use a modified version of SAS that will place limits on their requests and the subsequent outputs. Before being sent back to these researchers, results will be vetted to prevent disclosure of confidential information.
This privacy impact assessment did not identify any privacy risks that cannot be managed using either present safeguards or others that have been specifically developed for the pilot of the Real Time Remote Access Application for Household Cross Sectional Surveys. Because the development of a real time remote access application is a multi-year project, it will be necessary to provide regular updates to this assessment if there are any additional changes to the application.