Census 2016: what’s happening now and is it safe?

The Census website is back up and running but is it actually safe?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) suffered a significant blow to its credibility when the Census website crashed last week. It is back up and running but only 40 per cent of Australian households have completed the survey.

So what happens now?
The ABS was forced to shut down the Census website on Tuesday night after a spate of attacks which resulted in blocked access to the site. It took 40 hours for the website to be restored but the questions of what went wrong and who is responsible are yet to be resolved.

Among the issues considered in an Inquiry launched by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, is why the website had insufficient protections against such an attack.

The responsible party is yet to be identified, with the Prime Minister saying, “Which heads roll, where and when, will be determined once the review is complete.”

The website is up and running, but is it safe?
The Federal Government has denied ABS claims that the Census website was shut down by hackers, suggesting instead that it was blocked intentionally in order to protect users’ data.

Since the Census is compulsory, all Australians are required to complete it. In an update on its website on 11 August, the ABS apologised for the inconvenience and thanked “everyone affected for their patience and helping shape Australia’s future”.

The ABS has assured the 2.33 million Australians who managed to complete the form that their data is “secure at the ABS”.

How long do you have to complete the survey?
Concerned that Australians will forget to complete the form in the wake of all the hubbub, the Government launched a TV ad last night to remind those who have not completed the Census to do so.

Australians have until 23 September to fill out the survey or risk a $180 fine for each day it’s late. You can also be fined $1800 for supplying misleading information.

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    COMMENTS

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    16th Aug 2016
    11:18am
    Who cares? The information I submitted is hardly confidential as there will be a number of computers around that hold similar information about me and my household.
    GeorgeM
    17th Aug 2016
    8:39pm
    Firstly, agree, who cares, they did not ask anything much!
    Secondly, this article and several in the media are diverting from the issue - the failure of ABS (and IBM) to have a properly tested and working web site - and they foolishly insisted all to use the system on the same day (rather than say over a week). This web site inability to handle the high volume of traffic is a standard issue in IT and all attempts are made to cover up that fact - I know because I managed one Govt program where I got it fixed.
    Franky
    16th Aug 2016
    11:20am
    I have not received any forms, nor log in details to complete online, nor has the post office any knowledge of census forms - according to the newspaper they were supposed to be available at post offices. Where to from here? Seems to me that it's a total mess up this time.
    Retired Knowall
    16th Aug 2016
    6:06pm
    The forms were Never to available from Post Offices.
    Lozza
    16th Aug 2016
    7:23pm
    Franky, same thing happened to me. I rang the ABS Enquiry Service on 1300 214 531 a few days ago and they emailed me the online code the same day.

    16th Aug 2016
    11:20am
    Who really cares if it is up and running it is the most unimportant form anyone can fill out and should be the least of your worries.
    Watto
    16th Aug 2016
    11:38am
    What a load of frog's droppings . is it safe ?????!!!!
    You can learn more about me in the phone book . The Gov already has all my info . I did a tax return online and it was already prefilled with bank interest , share dividend etc,.
    Sometimes I think journos struggle to find a topic to write about . There has to be something more important out there .
    RogerA
    16th Aug 2016
    11:40am
    Why are so many people, led by M. Turnbull, hyperventilating over the census issue? Get some street wisdom. We did the form late on Monday night, after the eastern staters had gone to bed. Street wise. No trouble, a breeze, well-designed online form. As to privacy, get a perspective. Above right on my screen now is an advert for garden sheds, something I now see when visiting a number of media sites. How come I'm being targeted? About a month ago I did some investigating of prices and specs for garden sheds. Unknown search engines and marketeers have acquired my data and are hammering away, but how can I say, and to whom, "Back off, we decided instead to build a tree house with scrap timber salvaged from free pallets, not gonna buy a shed?" Unfortunately, my simple searches for free pallets led, to ... you guessed it. The census as a threat to your privacy is a near trivial risk compared with the on selling of data about your searches for garden sheds, free pallets, ... be very careful what you search for, and stay away from clickbait stuff on Facebook, etc.
    musicveg
    16th Aug 2016
    5:17pm
    Adblock will stop those pesky ads
    buby
    17th Aug 2016
    1:38pm
    I AGREE with you roger they are like vulchars.. online.
    Doing the census, was a bit weird this time i reckon anyway, i didn't do it on line cause i personally just couldn't get on it, so had a form sent out. I don't know why they didn't do this to most of the oldies???
    And it seems they have not advertise too much about it, Cause i met an oldie today, and she has 14 grandchildren, and none of her kids even mentioned to her that they had to do one lol.
    I thought that was funny. but anyway i did inform her.... lol.
    i wouldn't like to see her get that stupid fine.

    16th Aug 2016
    11:40am
    To all of you who have said previously, "give the government a chance, it's the first time it has been done this way, only teething problems" or similar: this goes to show you that NO ONE in government gives a crap about the census or ANYTHING ELSE! If anyone did this fiasco would have been fixed by now. They couldn't run a bloody bath let alone a government! Absolutely pathetic!
    buby
    17th Aug 2016
    1:39pm
    OH (rolling me eyeballs) i think you are so right FAST EDDie.
    I think some of use on here are faster than our government at present lol.
    HarrysOpinion
    16th Aug 2016
    11:47am
    Yes, the safety of information given to ABS census online is no different to the safety of your information online banking and /or online credit card applications. Many whingers have made a song and dance about the ABS Census safety of information only to cause civil disobedience for self-serving political gains and / or because they are simply anarchists who intentionally want to divide our society. Much of the information asked for in the Census already exists with various government agencies. It's about time we had one Australia Card for each bona-fide citizen that combines all of the different ID's such as driver licence , motor vehicle registration, Centrelink, Medicare, E-Health, Birth Registry, Marriage registry, Land Title registry,Rates, ATO, AEC, Education records,Criminal and court records.......THE LOT....Then there'd be no need for a public census, all the statistics could be drawn from the single source and this would separate the illegals from the rightful citizens in Australia.
    Peking
    16th Aug 2016
    1:34pm
    I completed the census online on the day. Since then, the utterances of the confused political and public servants have given me pause to reconsider. There are too many hints of sharing the content with other authorities. In this age of Big Data and the advance of software to mine it, I am less happy about sharing name, address, income and occupancy etc.
    As for those who liken it to tax returns, Facebook etc, the risk in the Census is related to the amalgamation of particular data, in massive amounts. I worked in the field for one of the agencies named and am uneasy with the movie "hacker recruitment" approach to enlisting staff. Although there will be "positive vetting" in the process, I think it smells of a populist approach to protecting our privacy, and settling public concerns.
    HarrysOpinion
    16th Aug 2016
    2:00pm
    Peking- That's rubbish talk. Only people who don't want to be identified as genuine citizens talk like this. The only privacy you are entitled to is what you do inside your own home and that you are the only person to read your e-mails, the letters received through the post and what you tell your family, your doctor, solicitor or a psychiatrist. What exactly are you afraid of?
    Peking
    16th Aug 2016
    3:28pm
    No fear here.
    Easy to recognise your right wing allusions to "bona fide citizen", "illegals", "genuine citizens", "rightful citizens", and your perceptions of "the only privacy", Big Brother.

    Would you willingly allow all the other sources of data you mention published about you, including name and address?

    Your Australia Card solution was raised and thoroughly discredited. Pity, you could have reduced everyone to an ID number.
    Anonymous
    16th Aug 2016
    5:38pm
    great, disagree with peking duck and you are a right winger, brings back memories of labor mick, just shows where the duck priorities lie in regard to free speech, I just turned the corner, guess, left or right?
    roy
    16th Aug 2016
    8:32pm
    I blame Mrs Thatcher.
    HarrysOpinion
    16th Aug 2016
    9:25pm
    Peking- You are off your head when you state that the government would publish such information to the public. Even the government authorities are legally bound to uphold Privacy Laws regarding citizen's names and addresses, except perhaps in case of criminal acts and breaches of national security , for example : espionage, treason, terrorism. Besides, like with the ABS Census form you'd be given the option whether you would permit the publication of your name and address AFTER 99 years, etc,etc....Most people would say NO. End of story.
    Scrivener
    16th Aug 2016
    4:03pm
    We asked for paper forms at this house after the online wait, wait, wait, debacle. They sent us an email to say they valued us and they supplied a receipt number saying they would respond to our request for a paper form. We tried the next day and they told us we were valued and gave us another receipt number for another paper form - but still no forms have arrived.
    So, we will fill out the Census when they respond to our request for a paper census and not online. The damn line has been mostly down since the Census in any case. Can't Russia and China do their own census's's's's. Why do they need ours. It's total rubbish anyway. Give me back my internet access please.
    No. It is not safe to do the census online. Any grade one computer nerd knows that a Denial of Service attack is one of the best beards known for a real hack of data.
    Sorry Malcolm, the Russkies and the Chinese governments now know ALL about you. I wonder how the Census would have turned out if we all have fibre to the home internet like we should have got years a go for half the money. Between TurnBULL and Pine we are well and truly 'fixed'.
    Just a rant, I know, but I am really rather cross about all this stupidity being perpetrated by so many morons. I'm moving to another country - Queensland! God help me.
    Scrivener
    16th Aug 2016
    5:38pm
    Well, it turns out it is really Turnbull who is to blame for online crapshoot called the Census, if this piece is credible - and it looks to be. NBN Turnbull style may not have made a jot if difference.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5S3s6jPHscERXRrczk5NGFFMXc/view?pref=2&pli=1
    roy
    16th Aug 2016
    8:31pm
    I blame Mrs Thatcher like so many of my British communist friends.
    HarrysOpinion
    16th Aug 2016
    9:30pm
    Fred- don't forget that it was Thatcher and Gorbachev who dismantled USSR and Communism, after they had dinner together at
    No 10. Must have been some hell of a dinner and plenty of Vodka.Give her some credit.
    buby
    17th Aug 2016
    1:42pm
    HEY but i spotted PUtin smooching UP to Trump. Crickey what the hells going on in this world.....HEck! lol
    cdbstock
    16th Aug 2016
    4:38pm
    Old Man - but wouldn't it be valuable to a hacker to sell the huge database to marketers - giving the income of each individual so that marketing could be tailored to incomes
    Old Geezer
    16th Aug 2016
    5:13pm
    People surely don't disclose their correct income on census forms.
    Scrivener
    16th Aug 2016
    5:47pm
    Old geezer's point is very salient because they say "You can also be fined $1800 for supplying misleading information." Which MUST mean that they are actually using your current and previous tax information to cross-check. Which means that the TAX data may also be compromised. It must also mean that every bit of government information about you is cross-checked as well. Or how can they say they will fine you for providing misleading information? HOW CAN they know if the information is misleading if they don't breach your privacy by cross-checking your data?
    Old Geezer
    16th Aug 2016
    7:30pm
    Since the Census form asks for your income for the week of the Census how is it relevant what your ATO income is? My income for the week of the census is very different from what it is for the whole year so how can my tax data be used to verify it?
    HarrysOpinion
    16th Aug 2016
    9:34pm
    cdbstock- Finance companies do it and Veda Credit Check did it.
    Old Geezer
    16th Aug 2016
    9:39pm
    Did a credit history check and was told I didn't have one as I have never asked for money from finance companies.
    Old Dog
    16th Aug 2016
    5:14pm
    Probably correct, Old Man. Bugger me, with the way Windows 10 (and other computer programmes) collect info on us the only thing that is probably still private is what we do in the bathroom. Still, for all of that, as I was one of those people who actually had a census form ACTUALLY DELIVERED, by a person, no less. (Yes, we who live in the "bush" probably don't have, or don't know how to use, a COMPUTER!) So, those bright folk in the government provided us with PAPER and that is what they got back, eventually.
    A. N. Onymous
    16th Aug 2016
    11:03pm
    Scrivener (at 5:38 pm today),

    Thank you for the article link. Very interesting.
    Pendrey
    17th Aug 2016
    11:18am
    Log on do it in 10 minutes. What a fuss! is it safe!! of course it is safe. This is important to all governments so get on with it and don't respond to publicity seeking politicians like Xenophon.
    buby
    17th Aug 2016
    1:46pm
    ya I reckon X is a pussy, he must be up to some rubbish if he's cracking up or is it just the media Hyping it all up out of proportion cause they can't any decent news to dish up!!!!one has to wonder about that thats for sure
    Anonymous
    18th Aug 2016
    6:38pm
    time Australians are waking up to x, another polly only looking after his own interest, he is a lawyer, creating a party bearing his own name, remember the palmer party, it states enough about his self egocentric attitude, just another polly who follows the popular path instead of making the hard decisions to bring Australia back from disaster.