Tuesday, September 20, 2016

My #CensusFAIL Parliamentary Submission

This is my submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the 2016 Census failure. Submissions close tomorrow.

2016 Census Submission To Parliamentary Enquiry

20th September 2016

The 2016 Census has been an extraordinary failure at every level, and should have been abandoned as soon as this became clear. Unfortunately, it is all too typical of the unaccountable Neoliberal ideology plaguing Australia and the Western world today.

We need to see this #CensusFAIL in the context of the government's continued invasions of citizens’ privacy (with both major parties complicit). As Edward Snowden revealed, we are now helping the USA spy not just on all citizens of Australia, but on all citizens of the world. Neither major party has a problem with that. Quite the opposite: both major parties have supported draconian Data Retention legislation robbing citizens of the right to privacy. It is an appalling situation.
The ABS decision to retain names and addresses for Census 2016 was never adequately explained, because it is indefensible. We citizens were told by the (ir)responsible MP that "it doesn't matter" because so many of us willingly give up our privacy to companies like Facebook. But in fact intelligent citizens want nothing to do with such companies. And anyway, nobody is going to charge you $180/day if you don't join Facebook.
If the government abandons its responsibility to me, and fails to protect my privacy, there is no reason why I should willingly co-operate with further attempts to exploit me. Now I see the government wants to privatise the ASIC database. What happens if a future government decides to privatise the Census database? This is where we are heading.

The ABS wants to hold onto my name and address for years, tied to my family's personal information, and yet government institutions around the world are hacked regularly and this information (on millions of Australians) represents a prize target for hackers. Sorry, but I have no confidence that the government can be trusted.
And by the way, I used to work with IBM on the Gold Coast. IBM handled #CensusFAIL security and an ex-colleague Phillip Ny made headlines when he said that this data would "inevitably" be lost. He deleted that tweet, presumably under pressure of losing his job, but he was right. Those of us who understand software security have a much better idea of the threats than petty bureaucrats and careerist politicians.
The people who should be facing court over this #CensusFAIL disaster are the imbeciles at ABS who have wasted countless millions of dollars and destroyed public confidence in their institution.
The damage has now been done: millions have not completed the census, millions more have provided unreliable data because they rightly do not trust their government. Nobody but the fools responsible should be punished for it.
Gary Lord.

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