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Census disaster was set up by Big-gov invasion of privacy plus threats to fine

Code Red: How the Bureau of Statistics bungled the 2016 census by Peter Martin

Reading Cod Red in the Sydney Morning Herald, the real problem of the 2016 census is laid bare.  Budget cuts and DDOS attacks are not the issue. If the ABS had not been greedy for too much information, or totalitarian with threats of fines, their servers could have coped on the night. In a single day the big achievers trashed the reputation of the ABS and the Census, and of IBM.

A former head of the ABS described the grab for names as the “without doubt, the most significant invasion of privacy ever perpetrated by the ABS” — like an “Australia Card”.

Because of the invasive private information they demanded, some Senators (Greens and Xenophon) refused to comply. So the ABS threatened the public with $180 a day fines, and advertised that threat. They knew that they were asking too much, risking the good name of the ABS and of the census, and feared that citizens might object. That’s why they aggressively took the totalitarian route, threatening punishment to reduce conscientious objections. This combination created a recipe for millions of people to dutifully hit the site at the same time, crashing their servers. This is over-reach and incompetence, and on so many levels.

Forget all the fluff of cyber attacks parroted by the ABC . Those faults may be real as well, but the only number that matters is that the site was tested to manage 1 million submissions an hour – or 280 per second. All the officials admit that was the target, no one is contesting that, and for anyone who passed primary school maths, its obvious that was never going to be enough to meet the demand when 10 million households had been bullied into responding. This is the grand point of rank incompetence. It was all so predictable. Worse, now we have the cover up of the bleeding obvious.

The 2016 Census should be trashed completely.

Retaining “names and addresses” was unprecedentedly risky

Directed to actually conduct the census, and keen to extract some value from it, Kalisch [the ABS head] and his team revived an idea categorically ruled out by his predecessor. Pink had said no to retaining names.

“It wasn’t going to happen. I can tell you that,” Pink said this week.

“I always used to say to my people: you can’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg, and the golden egg is the census. In my view, you only need 20 per cent of Australians who are concerned about security and you put the census at risk.”

When given the option of having their names and forms retained and stored in the archives for release a century later instead of being destroyed after processing, 39 per cent of Australians had said no. The immediate use of their names might have alarmed them more.

Names had always been retained for a short time in order to eliminate duplicates and establish the relationship between household members, but destroyed after checks, usually well before 18 months.

The request for names and addresses was “the most significant invasion of privacy ever perpetrated”:

“There are many administrative datasets that are likely to have considerable statistical value,” the report said. “In addition to the personal income tax data which has already been used in data integration projects, future data integration projects could include the use of welfare payments data, Centrelink unemployment benefits data, Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme data, Australian Immunisation Register, the electoral roll, and other nationally important datasets.”

The report envisioned no limit on what the ABS could link and charge for, so long as the names and addresses themselves were kept within the ABS.

One of Kalisch’s predecessors, Bill McLennan described what was planned as “without doubt, the most significant invasion of privacy ever perpetrated on Australians by the ABS”.

“I am appalled that the ABS can think it can use the threat of prosecution to make me provide data that allows the ABS to set up what is, in effect, a statistical Australian Card,” he wrote.

Peter Miller, the Sydney Morning Herald describes how the saga unfolded.

The billion dollar ABC was covering up for the ABS. Any friend of the nanny state is a friend in need…

The ABC would have helped the ABS if it had exposed the invasion of privacy for discussion earlier before Senators started the boycott. That’s what we pay the ABC a billion dollars a year for — to serve the people.

h/t to Dave B.

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75 comments to Census disaster was set up by Big-gov invasion of privacy plus threats to fine

  • #
    mc

    If the ABS had not been greedy for too much information, or totalitarian with threats of fines, their servers could have coped on the night. In a single day the big achievers trashed the reputation of the ABS and the Census, and of IBM.

    Seems the Goddess Nemesis is alive and well.

    91

    • #
      OriginalSteve

      I also think Australians are simply sick of being told how to live their lives. The whole Big Gov has just been given a well times and very deserved punch in the nose .Good…….
      When govt overreaches eventually it has to either lock the whole country down to preserve its power ( communism) or get smart and back off……

      90

  • #
    Pete of Perth

    Still waiting for my paper census. All numbers will be entered as roman numerals. Think I might enter text in Latin.

    280

    • #
      Yonniestone

      Nice one Centurion. ;)

      90

    • #
      Dennis

      I am too, NSW Mid North Coast and from asking others in the area many are waiting but some received the papers on time.

      60

    • #
      Greg Cavanagh

      Mine arrived Friday, and I filled it out Saturday.

      To be honest, there is a lot of personnel information, and very little “national interest” information. It seemed much more like a collection of people->location rather than national budget information. It’s also the first time I’ve said “no” to retaining of information, it just made me feel uncomfortable.

      90

    • #

      You’re just following orders … the form requires you to fill it out in CAPITAL LETTERS

      ;-)

      60

  • #

    There have always been liars in public life. The problem now is that we can’t find a good one.

    130

  • #
    tom0mason

    Big Government is formulating a consensus on the census — it’s all your fault!

    110

  • #
    Lance Wallace

    The American census has collected name, address, relationship to head of household, also country from which person emigrated, for a couple of centuries now. The information is readily available publicly. Lately it is true that it collects considerably more information–there is a short form and a subset of persons getting a long form. Census takers fan out across the country and collect information on whatever day they contact the family. Why did Australia insist on getting all the information on a single day?

    60

    • #
      OriginalSteve

      Because they are dumb….

      70

    • #
      Gnrnr

      The Australian Census has always been done on a single day. The just screwed it up making it online this time around. Complete incompetence in not assuming all 10 million households might want to fill it in in the same hour. We still have not received any login info or paper forms. I sent them and email and still don’t have a response, so may not end up doing it :D

      20

  • #
    Lance Wallace

    Correction–my phrase “publicly available” refers to results that are sufficiently old. For example, I have looked up my family records in censuses from early days to 1960 or so. I don’t know how long it takes before the American census makes the data public.

    41

    • #
      D. J. Hawkins

      As an habitue of Ancestry.com, I can tell you that the most recent census release was the 1940 census in 2010. So, 70 years is the magic interval.

      10

  • #
    Roy Hogue

    Funny thing about web sites — Amazon, a business and therefore someone who takes their web site seriously, can handle millions of customers a day. And I’ve never found the Amazon web site down, unresponsive or even slow. Government web sites on the other hand, don’t seem to cut it. The rollout of the Obamacare web site was the same disaster as the Australian census.

    Amazon has an incentive to get it right. All their business comes in from the Internet. I expect they have multiple servers and a good number of expert IT types on the payroll. They can’t afford to screw it up.

    Turn the page over and look at the Government agency web sites. What real incentive do they have to get it right? What real incentive do they have to be able to handle all 35 million (I hope I remember the correct number) Aussies in one day without long waits and crashes? None in any real sense. After all, they are the government. So if you can’t get yur census submission done they can blame you regardless of the nonfunctional web site.

    I’m repeating myself I suspect. But government is the problem. Why take the census all in one day? Is there a real justification for that? And considering how many there must be who have no internet access, what justifies using the internet in the first place?

    110

    • #
      Roy Hogue

      The census here used to collect names of father, mother and siblings. I don’t know if they still do. When there was not the interest there is now in getting information to use in determining how much to tax to provide all the benefits government hands out, I wouldn’t mind. But today, well as I said, I shred the forms as soon as they come in. I look no further than to determine that it’s the census form.

      It’s only a small and probably useless protest as far as changing anything. But it’s all one man can do.

      70

    • #
      Rereke Whakaaro

      As I understand it, IBM conducted extensive testing on the ABS Servers and internal support facilities, and were confident that it could handle the load.

      What wasn’t tested, was the capacity of the Australian networks to take higher than normal peak internet traffic from “everywhere”, at the same time, and funnel it into one point.

      When internet servers get overloaded, they shift traffic to other servers, which in turn get overloaded and shift traffic … That is called “thrashing”.

      It was indeed, a Denial of Service Attack, but a self-imposed one.

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      • #
        Roy Hogue

        I should then ask, wasn’t it the designer’s responsibility to examine the external factors along with the website itself?

        And I would have to answer yes. And if they found the supporting infrastructure too far short of what would be required, would you not think they should advise their client that what they wanted wouldn’t work?

        Here in the states I’m able to get statistics on performance of the Internet if I want to go after them. Keeping things running depends on keeping track of traffic 24/7. Does Australia not also keep track of Internet traffic? Capacity planning is necessary in both places so I think numbers could have been found and analyzed. Keeping the Internet going is a mature science by now.

        10

    • #
      Pauly

      Roy, firstly the census is done by households, not individually. Unsurprisingly, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has the estimated number of households in 2016: the number is around 9.2 million.

      Secondly, we can assume that the ABS used IBM for the same reason that large companies rely on large IT providers. They actually have design experience supporting special purpose applications that do large volumes of traffic on their web sites. IBM have test facilities that can perform load testing of their design solutions, both hardware and software. Despite what some non-IT commentators have been saying, load testing is done at peak volumes, not average volumes.

      I suggest that the problem did not occur at the back end, which would have been suitably instrumented to monitor system behaviour, particularly given the first-of-type nature of this census event.

      All of which leads me to conclude that there may have been an external factor that caused this problem. So I’ll ignore all the doublespeak, as bureaucrats and politicians weave their words to avoid any blame, and wait for some data to emerge.

      30

      • #
        Roy Hogue

        The census here is also tracked by household. There’s no other good way to do it as far as I can see. That does make counting the homeless something of a challenge though. And we have far too many of them.

        As for waiting for the postmortem, you speak good wisdom there. So maybe I should admit that I spoke prematurely? :-( But it’s hard to ignore my own experience in computer science or just as an internet user. And to be fair, there are good commercial websites and not so good websites going all the way down to the terrible.

        With our population, now 330,000,000 (roughly) and larger by 2020, the next census year, I don’t envy anyone the job of keeping track of it all.

        And the other problem with anything like the size of the project ABS undertook is that no two designers are going to understand the job, their tools, software design or anything else involved, in the same way. If you give identical project specs to 2 different groups and turn them loose to implement what you want you will get 2 very different implementations, even if both work perfectly. And it’s more likely that one will work better or worse than the other. That is simply human nature.

        10

  • #
    jorgekafkazar

    Lassen Sie mich Ihre Papiere sehen, Mate.

    [Translation: Let me see your papers, Mate. Comment: English is the language of this site. Please respect that. -Fly]

    60

  • #
    handjive

    Again, for me, these words resonate:

    “As for any politicians who have ever believed in global warming, or supported the carbon tax, or a carbon-constrained economy, there is no hope for them.

    They are either too stupid or incompetent to be taken seriously.

    Merely recanting, at this late stage, won’t be enough.

    Make their lives hell too, just as they wished a diminished life on you.”

    Carbon (sic) tax rally, Sydney, 2012

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  • #
    Steve Adams

    Here in Canada we just completed the latest national census of population beginning in May and officially ending July 29. Census day was May 10 so information collected was supposed to be a snapshot of the population on that day, even though the collection of the data took place after that, for the most part.

    Our previous Conservative government did away with the much more information invasive long form only to have our newly elected Liberal government revive it in late 2015. Every fourth dwelling received the long form version. The last question on both versions was a choice for each person named in the census to allow use of the information collected 92 years after the census date. I believe the 92 year stipulation for the release of the information is based on our privacy act legislation. We have encountered this when requesting information about deceased family members from other federal government departments.

    I worked as a enumerator during this 2016 census. I quit when I found myself having to go back and harass people multiple times. I found it very distasteful reminding my fellow citizens that they were subject to a fine and/or imprisonment for not complying. I will never do it again.

    And that resistance to intrusive questions raises the very good question of what specific information the census act allows the government to ask for. In Canada, the act says only that the government can conduct a census of population and a census of agriculture. In the narrowest sense, for population, many interpret that as how many people reside in each dwelling and nothing else.

    I find it interesting to note that the very first item on both short and long forms, before it asked for a list of residents names, birth dates etc was a very small box with the very basic question of how many people resided in the dwelling. We were also instructed that if we could get nothing else after multiple visits we should try to get, at a minimum, the number of residents on the census day.

    I will also note that the only time we were asked to write down a legal statement of events and sign it, with follow-up statement and signature by our supervisor, was in the case of a complete refusal to provide any information. It would seem that those were the only cases they anticipated taking before a judge to ask for summary conviction under the act. I would like to know if this question of “what information are you required to give, at a minimum?” has ever been ruled on at the federal supreme court level.

    10

  • #
    Eric Worrall

    The Census IT team committed the oldest mistake in the book. They estimated requirements based on average capacity rather than peak capacity. IT systems have to be able to handle peak capacity, otherwise they fall over.

    151

    • #
      Yonniestone

      So the ABS underestimated, what are the odds on that?

      110

    • #
      Gymmie

      having IT, or programmers, check systems they design and/or work on is like a brain surgeon operating on themselves, it never turns out good.

      61

    • #
      Greg Cavanagh

      I’m not convinced it was the IT programmer’s mistake. More likely a management directive mistake.

      60

    • #

      It’s almost like looking at e.g. average of total wind power generated/averted over the year and comparing it to average annual consumption of electrical power.

      Nevertheless, the technical requirements of online census could be “easily” met using available technologies; and be quite resilient, even under DDoS attack.

      The motivation to collect details of personal identity and to maintain a link to the data is difficult to understand in an age where identity theft is rife and a huge repository of identity data is held within government; on servers in an environment where security isn’t the most important thing that they do. Regardless of their intent, it’s a really, really, REALLY, bad idea.

      And it is entirely predictable, when people are forced to provide data under the threat of force, that enough people will deliberately urinate into the pool of census data to taint any statistics that could be gathered. Now be honest: Don’t we all need help to get out of bed sometimes?

      40

  • #
    Svend Ferdinandsen

    They estimated requirements based on average capacity rather than peak capacity. IT systems have to be able to handle peak capacity, otherwise they fall over.

    And they plan the electricity generation the same way.

    130

  • #
    Yonniestone

    I’m still delivering Census forms and suspect I will for the next couple of months, the public feedback we get concerning any form of government or local authority is negative to say the least, I seriously think the unworthy elites don’t have a clue just how disrespected they really are.

    200

    • #
      ianl8888

      … the unworthy elites don’t have a clue just how disrespected they really are

      Yes, they do.

      It took me a while when I was younger to understand this. These parasites (not the self-described “elite”) are well aware of how despised they are – they simply don’t care.

      Examples abound, but one of the more recent is the Brussels hierarchy, after surveying the various impacts of Brexit on their personal circumstance, insisted that the British taxpayer, even when out of the EU, continue to contribute to their (Brussels) tax-free retirement pensions. Such contempt is a two-way street, of course, but these people really just don’t care.

      60

  • #
    Ken mival

    There is a simple solution to all of this. Everyone complete the paper form. If they didn’t adequately plan for the Internet, you can bet they are also not expecting 10 million paper forms. It will tie them up for years!

    90

  • #
    Dennis

    By the way, the decision to change the way the Census is collected was made by the previous Labor government.

    The administration was of course the responsibility of the public service, Australian Bureau of Statistics employees.

    40

  • #
    Eliza

    Left Australia a long time ago would never go back its a dictarship

    12

  • #
    Gregg Armstrong

    “The ABC would have helped the ABS if it had exposed the invasion of privacy for discussion earlier before Senators started the boycott. That’s what we pay the ABC a billion dollars a year for — to serve the people.”

    I respectfully disagree that the ABC receives a billion dollars per year to serve the (Australian) people. Assuming that the ABC is like the mainstream media in the United States they are an entirely government controlled organ of state propaganda. The media in the US might as well be named Pravda and Tass because they are no different than those Soviet-era organs of state propaganda. I suspect that Australia is following the US Deep State One Party model (with fake opposition parties using divisive divide and conquer tactics) with a controlled and compliant media.

    40

  • #
    Pauly

    I wasn’t aware that this site pandered to fools and conspiracy theorists. Some of the presumptions of this article are fundamentally wrong.

    Consider the privacy issue that appears to be the main concern. Firstly, about 30% of all jobs in our economy are provided by the government at various levels: the public education system, the public hospital system, the military, police and emergency services – the list goes on. These employees already have all their details listed with “the government”.

    Then there is everyone who makes use of a government service:
    Do you drive or own a car? They already have your name, address, date of birth, and some medical details.
    Do you use Medicare? They already have your bank account details, and most of your medical history. They have much more if you have been to a public hospital/
    Do you file income tax returns? Then they already have your detailed financial records, including all your bank accounts.
    Ever been divorced? Now there is an invasive process, which those who are involved are required to submit to.

    And that is for all the law-abiding citizens. The non-law abiding have even more of their life’s details on other government systems.

    So what exactly is the point of this particular article? Can we please avoid spreading stupidity and ignorance on this site?

    312

    • #

      Straw man argument: “The government already has all your information.”

      Indeed “they” do. But they’re not pre-packaged for total identity theft in the one location.

      All the census data on the forms amounts to less than 10 kilobytes per person. So all the data collected for all of Australia be squeezed onto an 8GB USB stick. What’s the price? Up to $100 per person. But even $1 makes the exercise worthwhile.

      Keep in mind that less than 5% of the population can be trusted to do the right thing at all times; even when it’s to their personal disadvantage. Can you be sure that all ABS staff are drawn from that tiny proportion of the population?

      100

      • #
        Pauly

        Not a straw man at all. My point remains that the government collects lots of personal data. In Australia, that data is specifically protected by the Privacy Act.

        The counter argument that you present is the straw man. Lots of speculation, scare mongering (Big Government?) and use of irrelevant analogies. Where is your data? How many government employees been convicted of breaching the confidentiality of personal information they collect? There have definitely been a few. And possibly a few more that have lost their employment for breaches that were found, but fell short of convictions. But the number is far less than the 5% you suggest because all Government employees are screened.

        So let’s stop with the straw men. How many employees of the ABS have been convicted or sacked for this? Ever?

        07

      • #
        Oksanna

        Don’t know what Pauly is smoking, but I want some. Anyone else ever been to an intergovernmental, interdepartmental gathering, where all the investigative and compliance departments both State and Federal, not to mention the staff of the energy utilities, transport bureaux, etcetera get together for drinks, and to put a face to each other? Venues chosen are quiet little taverns, places like that. At least in Perth they are. You see they put a face to their mutually familiar names and voices at these informal gatherings, because they often speak to each other. For example when the compliance officer from X Department rings up their contact at Y Utility, to enquire about a certain person Z. Who is Z? Well, consider Z to be someone like me or you. Yes, I’ve been to one. Regarding the census, I requested a paper form on the night, but the online fiasco has got me thinking, and now I am unsure if the ABS is competent to safeguard the data. The threat of prosecution also does not inspire confidence. Now feel as though confronted by a weak and demonstrably incompetent bully, who having demanded my wallet, has collapsed ineffectually at my feet in a funk, all the while muttering something about hackers.

        40

    • #
      BL of CQ

      I have to agree with Pauly – and disagree with Bernd and, (to a lesser extent) Oskanna, to a fair degree, for each.
      Most, if not all, sites (organisations) where data is kept on citizens maintain two (2) sets of records – one for the general ‘run-of-the-mill’ data and another only accessible to specific people with the requisite clearance (and password) and probably not capable of being found in any FoI search.
      Oskanna, I assume, is talking about the socialising of members of the ‘mythical’ “Information Club” [You all know of it, surely? It has been 'poo-poo'd' any number of times over the years, reducing me to fits of the giggles each and every time I read or hear it.] – which surprises me a little as that was not the ‘done thing’ in my (past) experience as ‘face to face’ meetings were seldom engaged in. In fact it was more about having specific telephone numbers and recognising the voice that should be heard when that number answered – sometimes “wrong number” might have to be muttered…
      Obviously the western side of the country has a more ‘laid back’ attitude.
      It is far reaching, in my experience that extended over a period of 20 plus years.
      The ‘Privacy Act’ is for the benefit of/to protect Government Departments, not for the benefit of private everyday citizens – please do not be so naive.
      Perhaps Oksanna is the only person on this site that really goes close to understanding just how much information is actually available – and I suspect he well understands the maxim “You only have secrets whilst ever I don’t let on that I know” – although Pauly is pointing out that there is far more information available about each individual than they might think – and data matching makes it all available.
      If, perchance, someone is giving you a hard time, I found the most effective method of ensuring they didn’t continue in that vein was to tell them a ‘hypothetical’ story.
      All the census is actually doing is verifying what they already know – and checking to see if you are being ‘truthful’.

      00

  • #
    OldOzzie

    Pauly
    August 14, 2016 at 8:36 am · Reply

    I wasn’t aware that this site pandered to fools and conspiracy theorists. Some of the presumptions of this article are fundamentally wrong.

    Consider the privacy issue that appears to be the main concern. Firstly, about 30% of all jobs in our economy are provided by the government at various levels: the public education system, the public hospital system, the military, police and emergency services – the list goes on. These employees already have all their details listed with “the government”.

    Then there is everyone who makes use of a government service:
    Do you drive or own a car? They already have your name, address, date of birth, and some medical details.
    Do you use Medicare? They already have your bank account details, and most of your medical history. They have much more if you have been to a public hospital/
    Do you file income tax returns? Then they already have your detailed financial records, including all your bank accounts.
    Ever been divorced? Now there is an invasive process, which those who are involved are required to submit to.

    And that is for all the law-abiding citizens. The non-law abiding have even more of their life’s details on other government systems.

    So what exactly is the point of this particular article? Can we please avoid spreading stupidity and ignorance on this site?

    Pauly, you are the fool

    The Census 2016 that I filled was a Total Waste of time as the information gathered by the innocuous insipid questions, as you succinctly point out,
    was already available to the Government – a Totally Redundant Exercise.

    The Article reflects the Concerns of a Number of People, and they are entitled have respect for their concerns, not be belittled by people like you.

    Just because you and I could not give a stuff about giving/Government having our Name and Address details, does not necessarily reflect other peoples concerns.

    They are entitled to their opinions.

    141

    • #
      Pauly

      OldOzzie, your complaint actually confirms that our government takes the Privacy Act seriously. By law, government agencies are not allowed to share personal information, nor are they allowed to use personal information for purposes other than what it was collected for.

      Which is why the ABS has to ask for that information, as it has for decades. If you don’t want redundancy, then simply tell the government to repeal the Privacy Act, and then all government departments can share all their data about us.

      And my point was about the stupidity of the article, and the ignorance that it was spreading. Neither of which are particularly relevant to this site.

      28

      • #
        bobl

        No, Pauly, you miss the point. The sort of privacy defeating cross-matching of data is exactly what the government IS doing, in the case of the ABS they are grabbing some relatively minor ethnicity information for even more stupefying government decision making, a lot of the inane questions allow the government to put you into a statistical bucket that it has no right to do. It’s just another arm of the creeping socialism invading our lives. People want to be treated as individuals – Not “Seven of Nine”.

        Individuals – people – through there protest are saying NO to being treated as citizen 14657921, and damn it, they have that right.

        Personally though, the government have this information about me already, I don’t think my ethnicity changed in the last few decade from when I was born, my “wealth” might have but they know that anyway! Most of the info they want ancestry.com already has. I think they should ask better questions like how long does it take to get to the nearest hospital, school, airport. What is your internet speed. Is your road paved, does it have holes so deep you’re afraid to look down. Do you have adequate water, sewerage, electricity supply. Does the postal service meet your needs. How do your products get to market, do they get there is the right timeframe. You know, less questions about what we do, and more questions about what the government should do (rather than the nanny statism it DOES waste its time on. Climate change, destruction of marriage, multiculturalism-which is another word for protected reverse racism – that means you, off to the scrap heap you go, we need the cash you sop up in gobs for real things like communications, roads, ports, hospitals and schools.

        And yes, I was against the FTTP NBN which was a flagrant waste of time and money but I am all for the FTTN NBN where I choose whether the last mile is fibre, copper or thin air (wireless). Gigabit internet is available to me if I need it but not piped to my door as if everyone needed it.

        110

      • #
        Ted O'Brien.

        All of this argument is irrelevant. It was not for no reason that past censuses were required to be all filled out on the one night.

        This census has been effectively trashed. Fait accompli. Of even less use than a homogenised temperature set.

        The people who fought it didn’t help, but they were minor players in this debacle. Now to see: who pays what bills?

        60

      • #
        OriginalSteve

        Paula your argument is the old flawed argument of ” if you have nothing to hide….” Which is the refuge of tyrants and fools. Wise up , son…..

        100

      • #
        AndyG55

        “By law, government agencies are not allowed to share personal information”

        By LAW, the ABC is meant to provide a balanced viewpoint.

        Thelaw doesn’t appear to be adhered to even slightly, does it. !

        71

        • #
          Pauly

          AndyG55, precision in language is critical, in any technical discussion. Here is the relevant clause from the ABC charter:

          (iii) the responsibility of the Corporation as the provider of an independent national broadcasting service to provide a balance between broadcasting programs of wide appeal and specialized broadcasting programs;

          The term “balanced” is not use anywhere else. I couldn’t find the word “bias” or “unbiased” in the Act. So your interpretation is incorrect. As is most politicians’ interpretation of the ABC being required to provide “unbiased” political reporting. So your example is invalid.

          07

          • #
            AndyG55

            8C

            ” (c) to ensure that the gathering and presentation by the Corporation of news and information is accurate and impartial according to the recognized standards of objective journalism; and…”

            let’s see that wording again.

            is accurate and impartial according to the recognized standards of objective journalism

            This section seems to be totally ignored by the Board of Directors.

            80

            • #
              AndyG55

              8 “(b) to maintain the independence and integrity of the Corporation;”

              How can it possibly do that when it is run by a pack of far-left Green anti-humanists.?

              The integrity of the ABC was lost long ago when it became nothing but a mouthpiece for the far-left.

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              Pauly

              Thanks for that extract, AndyG55. That explains where the bias sets in.

              Journalists may naturally self-select from a particular world view, are then trained in their Journalistic art by academics who reinforce that world view, and then seek employment in organisations full of more senior journalists who teach the new journalists how real journalists work.

              Most journalism has moved away from newsprint, and I would suggest the standard of “objectivity” has moved as well. And last time I checked, “recognised standards” does not mean “published” or “testable”.

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        By law, government agencies are not allowed to share personal information

        Haven’t you noticed that laws do not prevent crime?

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        KinkyKeith

        Your comment suggests that you don’t know this site too well.
        It is about the abuse of government power, and while the major vehicle of analysis of that abuse has been the global warming scam and associated cash transfers, It is also legitimately about the current abuse of trust in re_framing the collection of linked census data.

        No amount of bluster by you can justify the intrusion of the state into our personal details.

        While I am sure that most Australian government employees are good decent people it would be foolish to rely on that completely.
        KK

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      Tel

      So your argument is that the government already has all of the information.

      Brilliant! No need for any census then. Glad to see that solved so easily.

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        This is the type of comment (and many here talk about redundancy and insipid questions showing their ignorance) that makes me wonder if the ABS has failed to explain what the census achieves with its questions that can’t be done using these other information sources. So on top of the web melt-down, they are poor communicators.

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    Eliza

    Correction for above: Australia is a Politically correct nanny state dictatorship one of the worst. South America is a 1000 times better to live in. Would never go back. Please don’t come here and wreck the place. Joke.

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    OldOzzie

    Pualy,

    if you believe that Government Departments do not share data, I don’t have the same opinion – call me a skeptic. (probably from working in/with Government Departments)

    But, I take your point of view, as to where you are coming from.

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      Pauly

      OldOzzie, it is not my belief. Government at all levels are required to comply with legislation. If you catch them breaching legistation, then they can be prosecuted for breaches of that legislation.

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      bobl

      The only reason departments didn’t share data were technical, it was hard to share paper files, and each department considered their information precious (it kept the bureaucrats in a job), now that advantage is long gone and the technical issues have been overcome – Of course they share data, they’re the government.

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        Ted O'Brien.

        Bureaucrats know that if records are not kept for sharing there’s a job again tomorrow.

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        bobl

        Yes, that WAS the received wisdom. But life changes, now data is just an SQL Query away. Now bureaucrats rely on political correctness now to keep them in a job, if their “Mission” is in the politically correct leftist viewframe then they are pretty much immune from government razors even if they repetitively fail to deliver. Just look at the BOM for example. Their temperature history was proven to be wrong, yet was there any change? – NUP because the bureaucrats have surrounded themselves with an impenetrable shield of political correctness.

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    MattyB

    Misrepresentation by MSM and being turned into a football by politicians for personal/party gain is the problem. Personal identifiers have been retained for 18 months in the past, so retention is nothing new just extended. And questions have not changed since the 2006 Census. And decisions on running the eCensus were made in 2011. So the ABS has had cutbacks by 4 successive PMs from both sides of government. There are questions that should be asked about the management of the Census, but the media are asking the wrong ones

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    Ron Cook

    Anyone who traces their family tree is reliant upon early census details from collectors visiting homes and taking MINIMAL details i.e. address, names of occupants, employment details, ages. At this stage the latest UK census is that of 1911.

    I filled in the paper version supplied by a hotel in Sydney. My wife however had endless problems trying to get on the the website from Melbourne and has not as yet filled in anything.

    While I can see the issues with privacy in the modern era, without details of names, addresses etc how can my descendants research their family tree?

    JUST ASKING as I certainly don’t like my privacy being infiltrated by BIG Government.

    R-COO- K+

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      Records of births, marriages and deaths.

      That and records maintained/researched by a few in a family provide information for most genealogy; current and past. Without such, I’d never have a family tree with over 1000 individuals recorded.

      Government records such as e.g. German address books of the late 19th and early 20th century help but carry insufficient detail of relationships.

      A rule of thumb for genealogy is not to publish identifying research for individuals alive or deceased, unless they were decease more than 50 years ago. Such accumulated details are kept “private” within family records.

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        D. J. Hawkins

        In Ancestry.com, the default is to display all information for all individuals in your tree who have a death date. I don’t even know if you can change that. You can make your entire tree private of course.

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    Bob in Castlemaine

    For a start one has to be suspicious of anything that’s written by Peter Martin, look at his track record.
    The sharing of private information is an ever present risk with any census and has been since the days of quill pens. To think that legislation prohibiting the sharing of census data is or ever has completely stopped that happening is akin to believing that the legislation that requires their ABC to be balanced in program content will make it so – it’s tooth fairy stuff.
    The identification of individuals by censuses over the centuries has been an invaluable tool for historians. To allow our modern day obsessions with privacy matters to destroy that value would be a shame. After all, release (optional) after 99 years is hardly going to inconvenience anyone.

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    Bob Peel

    What may have contributed to the logjam was that the detail required time and effort. So forms would have remained `open’ for 20 minutes or so. Simple arithmetic beat them. We’re in a regional ares, read `treat them as computer-illiterate idiots’, so we received the paper version, which was duly filled in the name of “Dick & Dora Hackme”. It took me half an hour just to convince my wife her new name shouldn’t cost her $180 a day. :)

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    Two obvious things could have eliminated the problem. Use a downloadable form to fill out offline and make clear it does not have to be submitted on the night of the census but only by a certain date.

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    PriceOnAdvice

    The only thing that is certain is that any discussion of the server takedown is a distraction from the privacy issue.

    Regarding privacy and propriety of census data, I believe the relevant document is this one, Privacy Impact Assessment – Retention of Names and Addresses from 2016 Census, page 23 section 4.5 :
    http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/D3310114.nsf/4a256353001af3ed4b2562bb00121564/170fd5a4b684aa3eca257f1e0021a392/$FILE/ABS%20Privacy%20Impact%20Assessment%202016%20Census.pdf

    Make of it what you will.

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    RoHa

    On the plus side, this mess should reduce enthusiasm for electronic voting for a while. Once that comes in we will be stuck with the American system of “best hacker wins the election”.

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    James

    Sounds like the Obamacare health exchange disaster. The website was a failure, a lot of the state ones were that bad, they just went over to the federal one instead, once that was fixed.

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