By MIKE SCHNEIDER
Prominent demographers are asking the U.S. Census Bureau to abandon a controversial method for protecting survey and census participants’ confidentiality. They say it is jeopardizing the usability of the numbers that are the foundation of the nation’s data infrastructure. The Census Bureau embraced using the differential privacy algorithm for the first time with last year’s release of the first round of 2020 census data, which was used for redrawing political boundaries. The bureau says the new method is needed since the growth of third-party data, combined with modern computing, could allow hackers to piece together the identities of participants.