An independent inquiry is needed to restore faith in the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Government’s ability to handle online privacy, according to online advocacy organization Digital Rights Watch.
“The Turnbull Government’s handling of last night’s online Census demonstrates both a total disrespect for personal privacy rights and lack of digital literacy,” said Digital Rights Watch board member Amy Gray.
“We need an independent investigation of the whole process, including a forensic report of the cause of the website crash, the handling of privacy concerns and the outsourcing of key services to private companies.
“The Australian Census is a vital social and government planning tool but the handling of privacy concerns and education campaign by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has been a debacle from start to finish.
“Now they are botching the explanation of what happened to cause the website to crash and making people even more distrustful of providing their information.
“To deal with this mess, the ABS should act immediately to address people’s main privacy concerns, including at a bare minimum informing the public that they will not be fined if they choose to leave name and address data blank.
“In the longer term, the retention of name and address data should always be at the discretion of the citizen.
“The Census is too important to boycott, but who would blame people for doing that after everything that has happened?
“The ABS should start again with a proper consultation process that includes civil society and privacy advocates, and not just an internal assessment,” said Ms Gray.
For further information or interviews call Erin Farley on 0404 864 593