Have your say on the Census inquiry

Census night may be long passed, but we are still very much dealing with the repercussions of the Australian Bureau of Statistic’s decision to make it mandatory to provide personal information as part of the 2016 Census.

We published an open letter calling on the Government to hold an independent inquiry into the Census, and a few weeks ago the Senate heard that call and established an inquiry.

Digital Rights Watch will, of course, make a substantive submission to this inquiry, to inform Senators of the concerns around collection, retention and protection of citizen’s personal information.

But first, we want to hear from you. 

What are your concerns around the Census? Have you personally abstained from taking part in the Census due to privacy concerns? Are you worried about how the ABS will maintain and protect your personal information? What do you want heard as part of this inquiry?

You can add your thoughts in the comments below, join the conversation on Twitter or confidentially send us an email. We’ll use your thoughts and concerns as part of our submission, and ensure that the Senators on the committee hear your voice.

Submissions are due by September 21, so help us make a strong case for why digital security and privacy needs to be front and centre of the inquiry into the Census.

9 thoughts on “Have your say on the Census inquiry

  • Paul Calvert

    Thank you for this opportunity. My main concerns are as follows:

    1. Digital technology is fragile by nature. Specifically, security can be easily compromised and I am uncomfortable with the possibility that my personal information and that of my immediate family may be illegally accessed, or accessed for reasons that I may strongly disagree with.

    2. I am uncomfortable with the idea of compulsorily providing my personal information to be retained effectively ad infinitum. I do not believe this is in the spirit of free choice and democracy.

    3. I dislike the possibility that, having compulsorily provided my personal information, it may be linked to other data bases to create a profile. It would be simple enough to add any number of algorithms to flesh this out. It is secretive and sneaky and once again is not in the spirit of a free democracy.

  • Steve Foy

    The privacy concerns of many Australians have been merely glossed over with no attempt whatsoever to address those concerns. More over, the shambles that was the Online disaster only served to cement those very valid concerns and cast even more doubt on the technological expertise of those responsible. Rather than explain the situation and offer any plausible explanation, the government and the ABS resorted to the blame game which only managed to further entrench the perception of incompetence and data security risk. Add to this the seemingly never ending scramble for new laws chipping away at our personal freedoms, human rights and data privacy, and you have a data collection monolith taking on the image of an out of control monster that no one understands, no one trusts, and no one wants to be part of. This train wreck is of the governments own making and Australians have every right to be sceptical, suspicious and hesitant to share their personal data.

  • Les Player

    The ABS does not need my personal information for anything other than to ensure that I have been accurately counted then this information should be destroyed. We do not need another insecure department holding non pertinent information that could be out of date before it is even used.
    Heads must roll over this debacle particularly at the highest levels. In my opinion the first person to go should be our miserable excuse for Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

  • Ashleigh Starke

    I was not impressed by the whole census process and the manner in which it was handled and support any enquiry into the ABS. Of particular concern were the issues raised by the previous head of the department.

  • Barrie

    My greatest concern for my census information is that it is protected from exploitation by commercial interests, the corporate world and government. In the case of anyone needing access for urgent or other special reasons I would want to know who desired access to my data and their reasons for seeing it before I would consider allowing access. In the case of anyone accessing my data without my permission I would want to know that they would be prosecuted with full legal vigour. Privacy is a humen right.

  • Ralph Bowles

    I was concerned about the requirement to enter our names in the Census. This does not seem necessary for the purposes of the Census and has the potential to turn the Aust Bureau of Statistics into a Bureau of Surveillance. There certainly was virtually no public discussion about the new level of intrusion into our privacy.

  • Malcolm Macdonald

    I am particularly concerned with the high-handed tactics of the ABS towards anyone with questions about the census. ‘Just trust us’ and fines were all that the ABS could offer! The ABS had every opportunity to lay out their case for the new changes – 5 years in fact! But instead they chose to ‘inform’ the public in shortest of statements, and in an obscure place on their website leaving no time for public debate which was their likely intention.

    I believe the ABS never wanted to listen to the public’s privacy concerns and hoped that this one would just sail through unchallenged! I am grateful for the Senators and the many others who are holding the ABS to account.

  • Mike

    My biggest concern is that personal data is used, shared & linked to other personal data without any informed consent by the person concerned.

  • Ron

    Over the years government has slowly and by stealth eroded our freedoms and privacy and taking greater control over us.
    With the latest census an aim to complete an SLK for each of us will be the finishing touch to their goal.
    Also many questions in the census are irrelevant to the needs of what the census requires considering the results aren’t widely used for Australia’s betterment. If the data was used and needs were met we wouldn’t have so many protests and complaints on lack of infrastructure.

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