Privacy Blog

“By continuing the process of inflation, governments can confiscate secretly and unobserved an important part of the wealth of their citizens.” – John Maynard Keynes, writing about the effects of a seemingly small amount of inflation every year.

Australian Privacy Advocates say People’s Names in Census Records should not be Retained

Census records are some of the most useful records available to genealogists. However, if some Australians have their way, future genealogists will not have access to these records. Privacy advocates are calling on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) not to collect names of individuals in next month’s census, due to privacy concerns.

Actually, this is not as big a loss as it sounds. All Australian census records in the past few years have only kept the names for 18 months. Unlike many other countries, the Australian Bureau of Statistics does not preserve the names and then make them public after 72 or 100 years.

The names in past Austrailan census records were largely used for administrative purposes, to ensure everyone completed the census. The original plan was to keep the 2016 census records for 4 years but privacy advocates believe the names in the census records should not be saved at all.

The Australian Privacy Foundation is calling on the Australian Bureau of Statistics to stop using people’s names for data analysis. Some people are declaring they will boycott the census entirely because of the changes.

You can read more in an article by Jessica Longbottom in the ABC.NET.AU News site at

Categories: Legal Affairs

1 reply

  1. Correct me if I’m wrong,but shouldn’t it only be the names of LIVING people that are inaccessible?If a person has been dead for 50 or so years then it shouldn’t be a problem to see them in census records. That’s how it is here in Canada.


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