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Data security and the US Patriot Act

Concerns expressed about the possibility of the US Patriot Act being used by US intelligence services have been addressed by a number of additional contractual and operational safeguards. These arrangements were put in place to ensure that US authorities are unable to access census data.

Existing law already prevents the disclosure of census data – it is a criminal offence to disclose personal census data and is punishable by a fine and/or up to two years in prison. All census data is owned by ONS and all of the legal undertakings of confidentiality of personal census information will apply to both ONS and any contractors.

All census employees and contractors working on the census sign a declaration of confidentiality to guarantee their understanding and compliance with the law. All staff who have access to the full census data set in the operational data centre work for Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Contractual arrangements ensure that only sub-contractors registered and based in the UK and either UK or EU owned will have access to any personal census data. Staff with access to the full census data set or substantial parts of it will have security clearance to handle material classified as ‘Secret’ under the UK Government’s classifications.

The prime contractor was Lockheed Martin UK Ltd. Additional specialist services were provided by Cable & Wireless, Logica, UK Data Capture, bss, Steria, Polestar, Oracle and Royal Mail. Lockheed Martin UK designed the processing systems for ONS using its expertise and past experience. The day-to-day running of operational services was provided by the consortium of specialist service providers. All of these specialist subcontractors are registered and owned in the UK or elsewhere in the EU.

This contractual structure means that no US companies had or have any access to any personal census data. No Lockheed Martin staff (from either the US parent or UK company) had or have access to any personal census data.

All data are processed in the UK and remain in the UK.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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