Census 2016: why the privacy assurances from the ABS are not good enough

A concerned user of the online link aggregator Reddit recently highlighted some issues with the way the Australian Bureau of Statistics intends to link your personal data across other government databases. In addition, an article posted today by former Deputy Privacy Commissioner of NSW, Anna Johnston, outlines her reasons for boycotting the 2016 census. This led us to question some of the methods the ABS may be intending to use and how they might be of concern and in the public interest.

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Census 2016: Will collecting names result in bad data?

By Andrea Leong and James Jansson

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From 2016, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will retain all names and addresses collected in the census. The ABS quietly announced these plans in November 2015 and made the change after a 3-week consultation process. The fact that this change was made so quickly and so quietly is concerning in itself. The announcement has since spiralled into a public relations nightmare.

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Dear Scientists

Dear scientists: Join a political party.

In the wake of the 2016 federal election we ask that you, as scientists, join a political party and at the very least join the political discussion. We're not asking you to join the Science Party in particular (although that would be great!), but any party. What we want more scientific discussion in parliament and the community. We need your voice!

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The Science Party is serious and ready to build our future

Science Party has run a strong campaign, with a detailed policy platform, serious candidates, and the support of thousands of people. We’re establishing ourselves as a new, serious force in Australian politics.

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The adventure of Science: Tom Gordon, Candidate for Watson

My name is Tom Gordon, I’m running in this federal election for the Science Party because there is a vacuum of representation for science and scientific thinking in parliament. Evidence-based policies, rather than ideology-based policies, will provide a higher-quality, peer-reviewed parliamentary debate. 

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Health advances, policy and ageing populations

Every day 150,000 people around the world die. The biggest killer is aging, killing around 100,000 people every day. Up to 90% of deaths in developed countries occur due to age and age-related diseases.

Broadly, the causes of aging are well characterised and understood. One of the pioneers in discovering one cause is an Australian, Elizabeth Blackburn who won a Nobel Prize for her discovery of telomerase. Telomerase replaces a short section of DNA that is lost every time that a cell divides. If it is absent, eventually cells reach their Hayflick limit and the cells stop dividing. Telomerase is necessary to prevent cancer, which is basically cells that divide without ever stopping. The slowing of the action of telomerase over time is one cause of aging. 

 

 

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Hans Willink: Let's put scientists and engineers in parliament

Ordinary Tasmanians deserve extraordinary and smart politicians to fight for them. Scientists and engineers that are smart enough to understand and deal with the complex technological and social challenges that lie ahead, like finding real solutions to climate change without wrecking the economy and a faster, cheaper and more reliable Internet.

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Hans Willink, candidate for the Senate in Tasmania.

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Science Party startup policy pays the rent

Science Party cofounder and Leader, Dr James Jansson, announced the Science Party Startup Policy today. The policy includes a basic income for startup founders, new startup coworking space funding and grants for early stage startups for office space. It also includes new measures for consumer protection, and better tools for the Bureau of Statistics and Tax Office to collect information about the success of startups.

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James Jansson, Science Party Leader and NSW Senate Candidate

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Eve Slavich: Why I'm running for the Science Party in the NSW Senate

I am Eve Slavich and I am running for the NSW Senate for the Science Party.  I was prodded into politics by despair that those in power often seem to neither respect science nor understand the value of money spent on science and research. I believe these industries will provide us with future prosperity.

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The Greens want a sugar tax: the GST proves it won't work

Science Party is all about evidence-based policy. Today the Greens suggested that Australia put a 20% tax on sugar. There's only one problem: we know it won't work. 

When the GST was introduced, it put a 10% tax on non-fresh food: effectively a tax on unhealthy food and beverages. We've had a fat/sugar tax since 1999, and what has happened? Australia got more overweight and had more diabetes. 

Here's us getting more diabetes:

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