National Statistical Institutes (NSIs) collect electronic data from administrative agencies as well as directly from individual respondents. As a next step, modern technologies such as radio frequency identification, mobile telephone nets, geographic positioning systems, low orbit satellites, etc. also permit electronic observations without active participation of statistical objects observed. A number of non-statistical applications and services have already been launched such as wireless recording of cars passing road toll gates, tracking of whereabouts of boats, dogs and individuals. Electronically Observed Data (EOD) represents a new and valuable addition of data reflecting current activities in a complex society. The EOD are, however, frequently sensitive data. Preserving and utilizing EOD is likely to become central topic in the years to come followed by discussions about how to regulate data access to satisfy an acceptable balance between benefits and risk of misuses. In particular, NSIs in countries like the Nordic with well developed central identification registers for population, enterprises, organizations, vehicles, properties, etc. will probably experience that the EOD uses are directly or indirectly connected to their own data by their central identification systems, and be facing a demand for special services including EOD. The NSIs have long traditions in confidential treatment of sensitive micro data, and should consider and prepare for their roles and responsibilities with respect to EOD.
Keywords: Electronically observed data; Electronic footprint data; Use of EOD in official statistics
Biography: Svein Nordbotten worked with Statistics Norway from 1952-1971. He served as Director of the UN Statistical Office, N.Y. in the period 1979-1982. In 1972 he was appointed Professor at the University of Bergen, Norway, where he is now Professor Emeritus.