Data protection is a fundamental principle of official statistics, the objective of which is to ensure the maintenance of the trust of data suppliers and the availability of reliable basic data. Attending to the protection of data is a prerequisite for the trust Statistics Finland must have when collecting data. To be able to compile reliable statistics, Statistics Finland's basic data must be as reliable and exhaustive as possible. This can only be achieved if the data suppliers can be confident that data concerning them will be treated in an appropriate manner taking data protection needs into account.
Data protection requirements define the data that can be collected, how the data may be processed and in what form they may be published. The data protection rules applying to official statistics are contained in the Statistics Act, the Personal Data Act and the EU Regulation on Community Statistics.
The Statistics Act prohibits the collecting and storing of identification data, such as names or personal identity numbers, unless it is necessary for the production of statistics. It is usually necessary if the collected data are to be linked with other data. In such cases the Personal Data Act also allows the use of the personal identification number.
All basic data collected for statistics are stored at Statistics Finland. Some of the data derive from Statistics Finland's own or other registers and some have been collected by Statistics Finland with inquiries or interviews. All data collected for statistical purposes are confidential. The only exceptions are the data describing the activities of central and local government authorities and the production of public services, as well as the data in the Register of Enterprises and Establishments.
Confidentiality means that data must be protected against misuse at all stages of statistics production, identification data must be erased as soon as they are no longer required and statistics must be published so that target units cannot be identified from them.
As a rule Statistics Finland may only release confidential data in a form from which individual units cannot be identified, and for scientific research or statistical surveys concerning social conditions only. Only data on age, gender, occupation and education may be released with identification data for research and statistical purposes. Confidential data may never be released for administrative decision-making or similar purposes.
Most of the basic data of Statistics Finland containing identification data are statistical registers needed for the compilation of statistics. In addition to these, the agency has registers of its paying customers, the lender register of the Library of Statistics and the Register of Enterprises and Establishments that is used for both statistics production and general information service. Statistics Finland has prepared descriptions for all its registers in the manner required by the Personal Data Act. The register descriptions and their list are publicly available at the Library of Statistics and at the Registrar's Office of Statistics Finland.
Last updated 22.6.2005