JENNIFER McDERMOTT and MIKE SCHNEIDER
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — In an age of rapidly advancing computer power, the U.S. Census Bureau recently undertook an experiment to see if census answers could threaten the privacy of the people who fill out the questionnaires.
The agency went back to the last national headcount, in 2010, and reconstructed individual profiles from thousands of publicly available tables. It then matched those records against other public population data. The result: Officials were able to infer the identities of 52 million Americans.
Confronted with that discovery, the bureau announced that it would add statistical "noise" to the 2020 data, essentially tinkering with its own numbers to preserve privacy. But that idea creates its own problems, and s