Statistics Norway is subject to the provisions of the Personal Data Act with regard to responsible processing of personal data. Statistics Norway has a dedicated data protection officer, who is approved by the Norwegian Data Protection Authority. Statistics Norway complies with the Authority’s security requirements for processing sensitive personal data, and the organisation and routines to protect our data are devised in line with these. All Statistics Norway employees must sign a confidentiality agreement, and breaching this agreement is a punishable offence.
Linking and identifying personal data
Statistics Norway organises the data into different files, registers and databases depending on which statistics the data is to be used in. This means that all information relating to a person is not assembled in one place, such as a folder.
Pursuant to section 17 of the Personal Data Act, statistics are exempt from an individual’s right to access data since the personal data is used exclusively for statistical purposes and processing has no direct bearing on the registered party. This means you do not have any right to see the data held on you in Statistics Norway.
Statistics are not data on the individual
Statistics Norway publishes statistics on most parts of Norwegian society. In many cases, these statistics are based on information retrieved from public registers. Statistics are made up of data on groups of persons/businesses, not on identifiable statistical units.
When Statistics Norway publishes statistics, we ensure that no information about identifiable natural or legal persons (usually economic entities) can be revealed using the statistics.
To this end, we can suppress/hide table cells, for example cells that are based on fewer than three observations. Consequently, values in other cells must also be suppressed so that it is not possible to work out the values that we do not want to publish. Suppressed values are replaced with a symbol denoting that figures cannot be given: «:».
In frequency tables, we can also round off low frequencies, such as 1 or 2 to 0 or 3. This is done to ensure that deviations in totals remain small.
Magnitude tables are tables where cell values show total numerical quantities (normally monetary sizes or other amounts for economic entities). Here we use dominance rules to prevent disclosure of contributions from single units. This means that the largest contributions in a cell total must not exceed a certain percentage of the total in the cell. This percentage must remain confidential in order not to undermine the rule.
Exceptions may be made from the requirement for official statistics to be fully anonymised if the statistical unit has consented to this or if the information is freely accessible.
Statistics Norway can give researchers access to data for use in research, and public bodies access to data for statistics and analyses, but only in a deidentified or anonymous form.
Data from questionnaires
Statistics Norway also collects data directly from individuals through questionnaires. Written information is always provided to respondents prior to any such survey, with details of what the survey is about, what other data will be linked to the data collected, what the data will be used for, who will have access to the data and when it will be deleted. Details of who has taken part in the survey will remain confidential.
Statistics Norway treats all statistics users the same
The data on individuals held in Statistics Norway cannot be accessed by any other national institution. Statistics Norway treats all statistics users the same, irrespective of whether they are a public institution, a business or an individual. Statistics Norway may hold information on individuals but this does not mean that anyone else in the government is privy to the same information.
Statistics aimed at understanding Norwegian society
Statistics Norway’s statistics have played a key role in understanding Norwegian society for more than a hundred years, and have been a valuable guide to those governing society, among others. Data from public registers is needed to produce high quality statistics, such as the population statistics, education statistics and employment statistics. Even the name statistics are dependent on access to the population register.