Census: getting personal
Following my concerns the census is collecting personal identification (rather than the data they claim to be interested in) I sent them a tweet querrying the 'statistical purposes' of making people fill out their full name and full date of birth. The first response from @2013Census was that ''It's for admin reasons so we can be sure everyone is counted.'' I thought they would say that, but they shift from a statistical purposes justification to an administratilon excuse that raises more questions. So I ask 'Is the name and DOB keyed in as data?' The reply was to go to the. What happens to your census forms?.
They tell us they digitally scan all the paperforms and destry them afterwards. What they DO NOT say - certainly nowhere I've found - is that they do not record the names and DOBs. They must be scanning everything therefore, and that means everything to identify everyone. The 'just trust us' line and assurances of legislation amounts to a skeletonised fig leaf to protect confidentiality. It isn't enough. If they admit (or at least can understand) they can have no legitimate reason to collect full names and exact DOBs then they should not demand that information. In any event it should not have to be given. The fact is as soon as they have the info it's theirs to do with as they please, it is merely a statutory amendment or regulatory order away from being over-turned. They cannot assure confidentiality, they cannot rule out future misuse. The WW1 conscription boycotters in Waikato who were rounded up because the police used the census info are testament to the fragility of such assurances.