Potential privacy lapse found in Americans' 2010 census data

Posted at 3:05 PM, Feb 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-16 15:05:30-05

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top Census Bureau official says an internal agency team found that basic personal information collected from more than 100 million Americans during the 2010 head count could be reconstructed from encrypted data — but with lots of mistakes.

So far, this privacy vulnerability has only been captured by internal hacking teams, and no outside groups are known to have grabbed data that's supposed to be private for 72 years.

The agency's chief scientist, John Abowd, tells a scientific conference in Washington that the data vulnerability potentially affects 138 million people.

The Census Bureau is scrapping its old data shielding technique for a state-of-the-art method that Abowd says is far better than Google's or Apple's.