Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Oz #CENSUSFAIL and IBM


Today Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull assured citizens that the security of their Census 2016 data was 'absolute'.

"The security of their personal details is absolute and that is protected by law and by practice," he said. "That is a given."

But at almost the same time, Philip Nye, whom the Australian called "an IBM global security executive" on the Gold Coast, declared on Twitter that Australia’s sensitive census data will “inevitably” be hacked.

Nye made another important point: how would Australians even know if their census data was hacked?

“Since Australia doesn’t have mandatory disclosure laws, will we ever find out when Census data is inevitably breached?,” Mr Nye asked Prime Minister Turnbull and Gold Coast MP Steven Ciobo.

(NOTE: The government has proposed a "mandatory disclosure" bill to force organisations to disclose when they’ve had a ‘serious data breach’, but it is yet to be passed.)

Philip Nye deleted his tweets soon after the Murdoch media picked up on them, presumably because IBM have been the outsourcing partner for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) since 2011, when more than 2.6 million households across Australia submitted Census forms via IBM's web-based eCensus solution.

Of course, that was before Edward Snowden revealed in 2013 that all our phones and computers were being spied on by the US National Security Agency (NSA), with help from Australia's Pine Gap spy base.

So who are you going to believe? The Prime Minister who turned the NBN into a farce, or a security expert from IBM (who actually handle the ABS security) plus a former ABS staffer plus many other IT experts and privacy advocates?

The government is still insisting the 2016 Census will go ahead as scheduled on August 9th, despite calls from Independent Senators and MPs and the Greens to delay it and respond to privacy concerns.

It's also worth noting that IBM helped Adolf Hitler track all the Jews in Nazi Germany and manage their transportation to concentration camps. They still prefer not to talk about it.

Full Disclosure: I spent seven years working as a Technical Writer at IBM's Gold Coast office. In my opinion IBM is a corporation with no moral compass.

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