There's a lot to talk about with this year's Australian Census. For the first time, names and addresses will be recorded and kept, and this move alone has prompted widespread questions regarding security, privacy and the risks of non-compliance.
We've collected together all the stories you need to read — from what happens if you don't put your real name down to why you probably shouldn't say you're a Jedi.
For the first time since its inception in 1911, the Australian Census in August this year will be forgoing the usual practise of destroying any identifying information of respondents. Since 2001 we have had the option of deciding if our identifying information can be retained. This year, we won’t get a choice.
This decision was actually quietly announced on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website on 18 December 2015.
Opinion: In case you haven’t heard, this year’s Census will not be anonymous. When you fill out the 2016 Australian Census questionnaire — if you don’t somehow avoid it or refuse to take part — your name and address will be linked for the first time to other, previously anonymised data like your status of employment, education and personal health. The Census on the night of August 9th will be conducted almost entirely online, too — so get used to your personal data being transferred around the ‘net.
The 2016 Australian Census will not be anonymous, and a lot of people aren’t happy about that. A group of Australian privacy advocates, including a professor of computer science and a former NSW deputy privacy commissioner, are raising concerns, and some are encouraging Australians to avoid the Census, refuse to fill it out, or to use civil disobedience — like listing their religion as “Jedi Knight” — to skew the accuracy of results.
In December 2015, in a move that mostly went unnoticed, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that it would keep the name and address of every person in Australia, with the collection of that data effectively starting with this year’s Census. That data will ostensibly be used to “provide insight” into things like what jobs Australians have after reaching high school, university or further levels of education, and linked to citizens’ electronic health records to build an eerily complete digital picture of the country’s population.
A battle over government, religion, and Star Wars is brewing in Australia. We will hold our national census on August 9 and a group of people are begging fellow citizens to not put “Jedi” down as their religion.
Here’s the problem: On the 2011 census (it takes places every five years) 64,390 Australians put “Jedi” down as their religion, an increase of from 58,053 on the 2006 census, according to The Brisbane Times. Numbers like that put “Jedi” right behind Sikh on the list of religions in the country. It seems unlikely that all these people truly believe themselves to be actual Jedi, and most of them make the claim as a harmless way to declare their Star Wars fandom and give the government the middle finger at the same time.
Names and addresses collected as part of the 2016 Census, to be conducted on August 9, will be retained to enable the census to be linked to other national data. Names and addresses had previously been retained for 18 months, but the information is now planned to be kept for up to four years.
Opponents of longer retention of names and addresses have cited concerns relating to privacy, security, coercion and identification of individuals and minority populations. Some concerned about the changes have called for sabotage and boycott.
As you may be aware, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has changed the policy for this year’s Census. No longer anonymous, names and addresses will now be stored. This move not only puts people’s privacy at risk, experts say, but attempts to thwart the system in protest will make the Census itself inaccurate.
Without accurate data, essential government services could be misdirected, under-resourced or wiped out, The Greens say, and Nick Xenophon is calling for the whole thing to be postponed as community concerns arise.
The Greens have put a call out for Minister Michael McCormack to direct the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to rule out fines for people that don’t want to include their name and address details when completing their census forms, stating the ABS’ response to privacy concerns has been “wholly inadequate”.
If the ABS refuse to push census day back, they need to guarantee they will not fine people who choose to protect their own privacy, Australian Greens Co-Deputy Leader and Communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said.
Former statistician Bill McLennan has said that the 2016 Census is, “without doubt […] the most significant invasion of privacy ever perpetrated on Australians by the ABS”. There are number of concerning changes to the 2016 Census which have lead to talks of boycotts, lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) says. Here is a rundown of what the EFA has flagged as a potential problem, what your rights and obligations are, and what can happen if you make up answers or avoid the collector.
The 2016 Census is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, August 9. For the first time, the online version — or “eCensus” — is the default method for filling in the national survey. As with the 2011 version, most of the online process is fairly self-explanatory, but here are ten issues to bear in mind.
This year’s Census conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will not be anonymous. Your name and address information will be retained for up to four years. This new Census arrangement has privacy pundits up in arms. Yet, it’s compulsory for all Australian households to submit their information. So what should you do if you value your privacy and don’t want to fill out the Census form? Here are some suggestions on how to avoid it.
While the Government has tried to reassure the public that the personally identifiable information in this year’s Census will be kept safe, it has yet to provide an adequate reason as to why it’s collecting this data. It’s an extensive form that asks a lot of personal questions so it’s no surprise that privacy advocacy groups and industry experts have condemned this new approach to data collection.
Dear Lifehacker, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and had a recommended page which was by Census Australia. I started going through the comments to see what people were saying and was astonished to see multiple responses by the ABS talking about a $180 fine if we don’t complete the Census. Is this true? Can they really fine us for refusing to divulge every bit of information we have about ourselves? What are my legal rights here? Thanks, Mighty Pissed Off
The Australian Bureau of Statistics is expecting to hear from you on Census night — whether you’re home or not. The organisation has devised a comprehensive network of delivery options to ensure everybody does their bit for democracy, not matter where they are. Whether you’re lost on a lonely rural highway or shacked up in an internet-free hotel, the ABS still have ways of making you talk. Here’s what you need to know if you plan to be away on August 9.
Maybe you genuinely have plans on Census night or maybe you’re just trying to dodge the survey to keep your privacy intact. Either way, the ABS has put systems in place to ensure you have no excuse.
This year’s Australian Census is being conducted primarily online. By now you should have received your 12-digit Census Login number which you need to log into the online survey. But what happens if you accidentally misplaced it? Here’s what you need to know.
The 2016 Census is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, August 9. In order to use the eCensus, you’ll need to enter your 12 digit Census Login which every household received over the past few days. This was included in the Census Instruction Letter which sports green text and a padlock symbol on the envelope.
Census night is tomorrow. This year’s Census will be the first one to retain name and address information from respondents. If you’re still against filling out the lengthy and probing survey due to privacy concerns, you may be able to get away with leaving key information out without being slapped a hefty fine. Here’s how.
Census 2016 has been marred with controversy since it was revealed that the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will be retaining the name and address of participants for up to four years. Privacy experts and critics have lambasted the move, forcing the Prime Minister to come out to reassure the public that personally identifiable data will be kept safe.
Also catching our eye:
- The Huffington Post discusses why boycotting the 2016 Census "makes perfect sense".
- According to The Daily Telegraph, Bureau of Statistics bosses discussed secret plans to crossmatch people's private details as they planned tomorrow's controversial census.
- As always, First Dog on the Moon sums it all up in this classic comic as seen in The Guardian, starring Brenda the Civil Disobedience Penguin.