The Australian census is going down today. Normally, many Australians should be happy about the half-decade event that helps in the primary government’s decision. However, politicians and citizens are less than enthusiastic about this year’s census. The census requires citizens to provide their names and details regarding their physical addresses, something that was not a requirement before.
Just last year, the infamous hacking group Anonymous, hacked the US Census Bureau. According to a report by the Register, Anonymous leaked the data they acquired online such as usernames, emails and phone numbers of more than 4,000 officials working for the bureau.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics, expects more than two-thirds of the population to fill out an online census form. If the data were hacked, many Australians would be compromised. The information the hackers would obtain could be used, among other malicious purposes, for identity theft.
According to security experts, the online census system is highly fragile and susceptible to attacks as some of the software in use is out of date. But the body conducting the census continues to insist the systems and servers are secure. The Electronics Frontiers Australia notes that the census data would be a “honey pot” for hackers. The data is worth billions, something that will attract many hackers.
Campaigns to boycott the names and addresses requirements have been many over the past few weeks. Such campaigns via Facebook and other social media sites have become louder over the past few days. Senators Nick Xenophon, Sarah Hanson-Young and Scott Ludlum, have previously indicated their concern over the requirements and have publicly said they will boycott the requirement.
But there are consequences of boycotting the requirements of the census form. You will face a $1,800 if you provide a false address and false names. Deciding to leave out such details does not attract an immediate penalty. You will be given time to provide the details before a penalty can be imposed, says the General Manager at Australian Bureau of Statistics, Chris Library.
Mr Libreri further indicates that excluding your name does not mean the data will not be used. The Bureau requires all that data to provide the government with accurate statistics used in making informed decisions. However, previously the data was stored for 18 months then destroyed as opposed to the four years the Bureau intends to store data from this year’s census.
Some politicians and citizens concerned about their privacy are furious that there is no choice on whether or not to provide the name and address. ABS insists that the information is requisite and will never be commercialised. The ABS also assures that the website will handle the high volume traffic expected tonight, the Census night.
ABS reports that so far more than 2 million Australians have filled the online census form. Australians can only hope the website will not be vulnerable to hacks.