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Census Ahead: Protests Grow A ABS Insists On Data Retention

Census Ahead: Protests Grow A ABS Insists On Data Retention

In two weeks, Australians will have to complete their details for the 2016 census, but some privacy groups are outraged after the Australian Bureau of Statistics reversed a long-held policy not to use people’s names and addresses.

After undertaking a privacy-impact assessment last year, Stats decided it would keep names and addresses this time around so it can better link census data with other information to create a “richer and more dynamic statistical picture of Australia”.

Meanwhile, it has emerged the ABS has since 2006 been using people’s names and addresses to cross-reference data with records kept by other Australian departments.

The Australian Privacy Foundation is calling on the ABS to stop using people’s names for data analysis.

“We all gave our names in good faith, thinking they’d be deleted,” said the foundation’s vice-chair Kat Lane. “We’ve since found out they’re not being deleted at all. We don’t want the ABS to have very sensitive personal details like names. We want them to be deleted.”

Duncan Young, ABS head of census, said there was wide consultation with the public before the changes this year. He said extending the amount of time that names were kept on file to four years would give the ABS more time to carry out its work.

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