Tuesday, 27 September 2016

#CENSUSfail: so there was this little survey....

On 21 September 2016 The Sydney Morning Herald reported:

Almost 95 per cent of households have completed a census form despite an embarrassing website outage on census night and lingering political controversy over the national headcount.

The Bureau of Statistics says it already has sufficient data for a "high quality" census, ahead of the deadline for forms on Friday.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) also tries to pretend that refusal to complete the census form is the only civil disobedience it has to contend with when collating household responses.

However a little survey which was included in one submission to the Senate Economics References Committee Inquiry into the 2016 Census indicates that the ABS may have other problems with reliability of the data it can subtract from some Census questions.

The possibility that false information has become a significant factor in Census data sets is buttressed by previous findings in the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey Research Report 2013.

Responses of the 1,000 participants in the OAIC combination fixed line/mobile 'phone privacy survey resulted these percentages:

More concerned about providing personal information electronically or online than were 5 years ago – 67%
Concerned about possibility of becoming victim of identity theft or fraud in the next year – 69%
Provided false personal details when completing online forms – 31%
Provided false name when completing online forms – 30%
Refused to deal with government agency/public sector organisation due privacy concerns - 23% 
At some time have refused to supply personal information – 90%.

Excerpt from that little submission to the current Senate inquiry:

Q4 If you did fill out the 2016 Census, did you include your real name and address?

This question was required and had 3 answer options from which respondents could choose only one: Yes, No and other.

A substantial majority (74%) of respondents either did not fill out the census form at all or responded in ways intended to frustrate efforts to share their information in ways that could identify them as individuals, match their census data to other data or track their census data from one census to the next. The commonly found terms below are not mutually exclusive of one another.
This high number of people who have chosen not to complete the census or refused specific questions/ removed identifying information is directly relevant to the Inquiry Terms of Reference seeking feedback on impacts on data quality for the 2016 census.
Click on the commonly used terms to explore responses or click here to display all responses alphabetically

54 comments provided under 'other'

9/1/2016 8:06 PM : address only.
8/30/2016 8:17 PM : Blank address- name The Householder
9/3/2016 2:05 PM : census not done. Not going to be done either
8/30/2016 11:44 PM : completed address- left names blank
9/2/2016 6:49 AM : created a new persona for street address
9/1/2016 5:19 PM : Current address was already on the form- provided suburb and postcode for other addresses.
9/1/2016 7:10 PM : False name
9/4/2016 11:04 AM : False name- address- and some personal details. Only what I consider relevant to stastical analysis was completed approximately accurately.
9/1/2016 9:25 PM : false name- correct address
9/1/2016 5:38 PM : Filled in address but gave name as UNDISCLOSED
9/1/2016 6:53 PM : First name only. Make the computer work that little bit harder.
8/30/2016 6:35 PM : Gave correct address- no name
8/30/2016 7:08 PM : Gave first name- not last
9/3/2016 5:04 PM : I cut out NAD and identifying bar codres before returning the form
9/3/2016 10:59 AM : I did- but am unhappy about having to do so under threat of a fine
9/2/2016 5:48 PM : I didn't put my real name
8/30/2016 8:17 PM : I do not intend to use my name or address
9/3/2016 7:07 PM : I included a false name for privacy and security reasons.
9/1/2016 8:42 PM : I included it in the palest of blue coloured pencil- so it could not be scanned but required dedicated effort AND inckuded cover letter saying it was complted under duress asnd in great anger at them compromising such an important process.
9/1/2016 6:25 PM : I intend to leave name and address blank
8/30/2016 10:03 PM : I intend to leave name- all addresses (both current and past)- and age blank- to frustrate creation of an SLK or any possible link to past census data
9/3/2016 2:04 PM : I left name blank but the address was already printed on the form
9/1/2016 5:49 PM : I made a statement of objection but I gave Postcode.
9/7/2016 9:09 AM : I made my address suburb only with previous addresses
8/30/2016 7:33 PM : I provided a false name but address and other details were true
8/30/2016 5:05 PM : I put in my postcode and suburb only.
9/2/2016 11:50 AM : I put not necessary for purpose of Census data
9/3/2016 1:54 AM : I redacted identifying information and competed the data section truthfully
9/1/2016 9:15 PM : I used a false name but real address. [This should be a category]
9/6/2016 9:55 PM : i will be using a false name
9/8/2016 5:08 PM : I will do it but am unhappy about it and have no wish to take it seriously again. I think the info will be used for any purpose the govt wants and fear lack of security.
9/1/2016 4:07 PM : I will fill in the Census form when asked to in writing by the Chief Statistician. When I fill it in- I will omit my name and address details.
9/2/2016 11:35 AM : I will leave blank space for my name on the paper form.
9/3/2016 1:12 PM : I will not fill in the form if this is required.
8/30/2016 8:02 PM : I would never provide my name. The ABS is only authorised to hold statistical dat!
9/3/2016 3:45 PM : I'll use false name if/when I do it
8/30/2016 7:08 PM : If I complete the paper form- I will be leaving off my name and address. Still debating whether to do this or boycott.
8/30/2016 7:49 PM : if instructed by chief ABS to complete form- I will not include my name and add
9/1/2016 6:04 PM : Just address as it was printed on the form won't get names though as I feel names make the census a data trawling tool.
9/3/2016 7:27 AM : Misrepresentation of the depth of data linkage-cross referencing and retention
8/30/2016 6:56 PM : No name. Correct address
9/1/2016 6:29 PM : Not in Aus
9/2/2016 8:11 AM : Put initials
8/30/2016 8:20 PM : Real address but a blank name
9/1/2016 5:18 PM : Real address- as it was printed on the paper- fake names.
8/30/2016 6:05 PM : Removed all tracking items on form
9/1/2016 5:30 PM : silent voter ...omitted name
9/1/2016 5:57 PM : Tossed up + in the end did a variation
9/7/2016 5:32 PM : Used a very runny ink from a fountain pen which might 'accidently' smear
9/1/2016 9:21 PM : used married name- which I don't use in real life
9/1/2016 6:21 PM : Yes I did- but reluctantly!!
8/30/2016 6:58 PM : yes- but i didn't really want to
8/31/2016 10:36 PM: Names and DOB blank
9/10/2016 2:44 PM : Stated suburb-postcode-age and gender.

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