Legislative and institutional framework

INSEE and official statistics
Dernière mise à jour le : 24/01/2024

The legal reference framework for official statistics is essentially constituted by two texts: the 1951 Act, a special law devolved to the missions of the official statistical service, and the Data Protection Act, to which statistical processing is subject like all processing of data relating to natural persons.

The 1951 Act (Ouvrir dans un nouvel ongletAct No. 51-711 of 7 June 1951 on the obligation, coordination and secrecy of statistics) defines the official statistical service, consisting of INSEE and ministerial statistical services, in relation to general public information missions and the principle of professional independence. It defines statistical confidentiality, which prohibits any communication of confidential data, when they have been obtained by the official statistical service for exclusively statistical purposes, except for statistical purposes or for purposes of scientific or historical research. Statistical confidentiality applies to statistical results if they can be used to re-identify the confidential data from which they were produced. The law also defines the conditions to which statistical surveys by public services are subordinated, in particular when these surveys are made compulsory. It also institutes, for the benefit of the official statistical service, the principle of a right of access, under cover of statistical confidentiality, to any database held by the administrations, including when these databases are protected by professional secrecy.

The 1951 Act also creates various bodies that play an essential role in the operation and regulation of official statistics activities:

The missions and operating procedures of these bodies are set by decree: Ouvrir dans un nouvel ongletDecree No. 2009-250 of 3 March 2009, as amended, for the ASP, Ouvrir dans un nouvel ongletDecree No. 2009-318 of 20 March 2009 for the others.

The general provisions applicable to Member States' contributions to the production of European statistics are set out in a dedicated regulation, the Ouvrir dans un nouvel ongletrevised Regulation (EU) No 223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2009 on European Statistics. This regulation defines the European Statistical System, of which INSEE and the ministerial statistical services are part, and the governance of this system. It is based on the same main principles as those of the 1951 Act (professional independence, confidentiality, facilitated access to data) and the creation of the ASP stems directly from the obligations it entails with regard to the procedures for guaranteeing the professional independence of official statisticians. It refers more broadly, for its principles, to the European Statistics Code of Practice, which is the reference ethical framework for all agents of the official statistical system.

The Data Protection Act (Ouvrir dans un nouvel ongletAct No. 78-17 of 6 January 1978 on information technology, files and freedoms) is designed to ensure that all individuals have control over the use of their personal data, and in so doing, to reconcile the development of personal data processing with respect for fundamental rights. Since 2018, it is part of a harmonised European legal framework defined by the Ouvrir dans un nouvel ongletGeneral Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The law imposes obligations on all data controllers which are essentially based on two main principles: a principle of transparency - information to data subjects and response to their requests, documentation of processing - and a principle of controlling and limiting the risks of impact of processing on the privacy of data subjects. Statistical confidentiality plays an essential role in the application of the obligations arising from the Data Protection Act to statistical processing by official statistics.

Pour en savoir plus

ASP (Official Statistics Authority) : ensures the professional independence of official statisticians

CNIS (National Council for Statistical Information) : forum for consultation between producers and users of statistics

Legislative framework for INSEE and official statistics