Agents of the official statistical service, INSEE or ministerial statistical services, like all public agents, are bound by professional secrecy (Ouvrir dans un nouvel ongletArticle L121-6 of the General Civil Service Code), which prohibits them from communicating confidential information of which they are in charge by virtue of their missions or functions, under penalty of the sanctions specified in Ouvrir dans un nouvel ongletArticle 226-13 of the Penal Code (up to one year's imprisonment and a fine of €15,000).
Statistical secrecy, defined by Ouvrir dans un nouvel ongletAct No. 51-711 of 7 June 1951 on the obligation, coordination and confidentiality of statistics, reinforces this obligation in the case of data held for statistical purposes. It strictly prohibits the communication of individual data or data likely to identify persons, resulting from processing for statistical purposes, whether such processing comes from surveys or databases. In derogation of the common rules applicable to professional confidentiality, statistical confidentiality may be invoked against any judicial requisition or requisition from administrative authorities (tax or customs, for example). Data protected by statistical confidentiality may nevertheless be communicated - in the usual case after consulting Ouvrir dans un nouvel ongletthe Statistical Confidentiality Committee - in response to requests made for statistical purposes or purposes of scientific or historical research of public interest.
Statistical confidentiality excludes that data collected for statistical purposes can be used or re-used for decision-making purposes with regard to the persons concerned - natural and legal persons. In particular, it strictly excludes any use or re-use of such data for the purposes of tax control or economic repression.
Any person accessing data collected or processed for statistical purposes (interviewer, enumerator, statistician, authorised applicant) is subject to statistical confidentiality.
Application to the dissemination of statistical information
Statistical confidentiality excludes, as a matter of principle, the dissemination of data that would allow the identification of the persons concerned, whether natural or legal persons. This obligation limits the detail of the information available for dissemination. It is expressed more particularly with regard to the dissemination of data concerning natural persons (Ouvrir dans un nouvel ongletArticle L312-1-2 of the Code of Relations between the Public and the Administration).
Rules facilitating the application of this principle are nevertheless admitted in practice. They may depend on the type of sources, the nature of the data and the entities concerned (individuals or businesses).
For individuals, rules are thus set specifically for Ouvrir dans un nouvel ongletpopulation censuses.
For businesses, in the general case, no result is published if it concerns less than three enterprises, or if a single enterprise represents 85% or more of its value. However, it is admitted that the dissemination of lists extracted from the register of enterprises or establishments may mention the economic activity, a class of employees and a turnover bracket.