Australians Provide Fake Names Amid Census Privacy Fears

In the 2016 census, many Australians provided fake names and withheld their date of birth. A sharp drop in the number of respondents allowing authorities to keep their data archived for 99 years was also noted.

The first batch of data from last year’s bungled census was released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday with authorities insisting the information collected is useful. Privacy concerns plagued the half-billion-dollar exercise in the lead up to Census night on August 9 with several politicians, including independent senator Nick Xenophon, vowing to risk a $180-a-day fine by refusing to provide their names and addresses.

The action seems strange as the Australian Bureau of Statistics is prohibited from sharing the data with other agencies. Census records in the past in many countries, such as in the United States since 1790, have proven to keep the information private for 72 years (in the U.S.) to 110 years in some other countries.

In the 2016 Australian census, about one per cent of respondents gave no name or a fake name, while three per cent chose to provide their age instead of date of birth.

Details may be found in an article by Belinda Merhab in the Australian Associated Press at: http://bit.ly/2tm9mNL.

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