Given the fact that more and more personal and business data can be easily collected through surveys, social media, medical records, high-tech monitoring and tracking systems, resulting in “big data”, the issues associated with data protection are of serious concern to society and individuals. Data privacy has become a hot topic in terms of the data systems that we are all subject to and in scientific research.

With support from NIASRA, Associate Professor Yan-Xia Lin organized a one-day workshop, “Advanced in Statistical Disclosure Limitations” on 5th February 2020. The workshop was designed to introduce the fundamental concepts of micro-data protection and some statistical disclosure limitation methods to researchers and our students who might want to step into the research area of data privacy. The workshop also provided data privacy researchers a platform to exchange their research outcomes, to share their new research ideas, and to build a network for further research collaborations.

The workshop attracted more than 35 participants.  More than 80% were international researchers from the USA, UK, and Italy as well as national researchers from ABS, CSIRO-DATA61, ANU, USYD, and UOW, working in the area of data privacy and data security. The workshop also attracted Honours, Masters and PhD students from UOW.

In the workshop, Dr. Anna Oganyan (US National Center for Health Statistics) presented a Short course on Data Privacy and Statistical Disclosure Limitation.  There were three sessions in workshop were chaired by Dr. Pauline O’Shaughnessy (UOW), Dr. Joseph Chien (ABS) and Mr. Bradley Wakefield (UOW PhD student), respectively. Eight other speakers, from ABS, DATA61, NCHS, Georgia Southern University and UOW, gave talks covering some significant current research topics on microdata protection.  During lunchtime, Dr. Chris Mann (ABS) and Associate Professor Yan-Xia Lin (UOW) ran a round-table discussion on two topics: (1) What is the future of data privacy in the industry? (2) What kind of potential collaborations could be built between industries and research institutions?

The content of the short course, the topics in the workshop, presentations and in the round-table discussion covered a wide range of exciting topics. It stimulated discussions on the talks given by speakers and identified potential research collaborations among some participants. The workshop was very successful and we are looking at the possibility of conducting a workshop every year or every two-years to provide an opportunity for Australian statistical data privacy experts to meet together.

After the workshop, some members of Data Privacy Research Group (A/P Yan-Xia Lin, Dr. Pauline O’Shaughnessy and Mr. Bradley Wakefield) in NIASRA had had constructive research discussions with the keynote speaker Dr. Anna Oganyan (National Center for Health Statistics) and Professor Goran Lesaja (Georgia Southern University).