Census back online after bungle

With the 2016 Census debacle declared to be over, attention now turns to who was responsible for the epic failure that inconvenienced millions of Australians.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) head David Kalisch made a brief statement to the press yesterday, apologising for the mishap but declining to take questions.

He declared that the Census was back online, stating the ABS was “on track to conduct a high-quality online census”. But some people were still experiencing technical difficulties last night, receiving the message: “This site cannot be reached”.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull expressed his dismay at the Census failure, removing blame from his ministers and placing it squarely on the ABS and IBM – the corporation that was paid $10 million to provide the online Census service.

“I know people have said to me, ‘will heads roll’? Which heads roll where and when will be determined once the review is complete,” said Mr Turnbull. “Right now, my objective, as Prime Minister, is to ensure that the site is back up, it should be restored today, that is the advice I have as of a little while ago and that when it is restored the protections that ought to have been in place are in place.”

Mr Turnbull blames IBM as service provider, saying that Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks were inevitable and that the IT giant should have been more prepared.

“Part of the job of the service provider, in this case IBM, was to ensure that there were measures to repel denial of service attacks,” said the PM. “The fact is the measures that were put in place were inadequate.”

Labor has attacked the Government for passing the buck to the ABS for the Census failure, calling the bungled Census “one of the biggest shambles in government”.

“The Census happens every five years. It costs hundreds of millions of dollars. There are ministers responsible for the Census,” said Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. “Now we wake up Thursday morning and Malcolm Turnbull and his whole Liberal-National ministry frontbench, none of them are apparently responsible for anything. How can it be?”

Mr Turnbull believes that the attacks appeared to be coming from the United States, but did not confirm that it was a US-based entity that was responsible for the breach.

“It is relatively straightforward to be able to route traffic using virtual private networks and other techniques through the US,” he said. “That will be investigated.”

The ABS has stated that any personal information submitted has not been stolen.

Read more at The Guardian.

Who do you think is responsible for the Census failure? With the PM’s prediction that DDoS attacks were inevitable, do you think more should have been done to ensure the Census’ smooth operation before sign-off?

Related articles:
Census farce no laughing matter
Census boycotters face fines
Pensioners left on Census hold

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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