Home Open Sauce ABS head and Brandis are as peas in a pod

Author's Opinion

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of iTWire.

Have your say and comment below.

ABS head and Brandis are as peas in a pod Featured

There are many similarities between the head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics David Kalisch and federal Attorney-General George Brandis.

Nobody who was in Australia during the time when the government was trying to push its metadata retention regime will ever forget the trainwreck of an interview that Brandis had with Sky anchor David Speers.

It was clear that Brandis had no idea what he was talking about and even clearer that he was annoyed at being questioned.

Similarly, Kalisch appears to have no idea about the concept of privacy even as he and others at the ABS try desperately to offer a figleaf of justification for the high-handed decision that was taken quietly in December, to retain names and addresses in this month's census.

Kalisch was even willing to admit that the ABS had been lying for years, and double back on the period of retention, reducing it from an indefinite period to four years, in order to try and plead his case.

But it has all fallen flat.

To the public in an increasingly digital and connected world, Kalisch appears like some arrogant landlord of old, disconnected from reality, who is trying to raise the rent without telling the tenants about it.

There was a time when data in one area of government would stay there and be used for that department alone. It was too difficult to be brought across to another department.

Now, with the era of big data upon us, it is child's play to collate data across agencies to find out more and more about the citizens of a country. The US National Security Agency is a master at this; Google is not far behind.

The treasurer, Scott Morrison, alluded to this during the federal election campaign when he said that there would be efforts to cut back on welfare payments based on information that the government had about those who were beneficiaries. Information that could be well derived by government-sanctioned collection of data. The census springs to mind.

And if Kalisch thinks that people are naive enough to believe that separating names from the remainder of a person's data means that the two cannot be correlated, then he is living in a fool's paradise.

As the online newsletter Crikey pointed out yesterday, (paywalled) it is child's play to tie so-called "anonymised data" to an individual.

The publication has been a harsh critic of the name retention policy and has called on Australians to boycott the census altogether.

It is remarkable that no politician has come out and criticised this high-handedness. iTWire has written to the Labor Party and the Greens and also contacted independent Andrew Wilkie. Neither party deigned to even reply, while an aide of Wilkie's responded and provided some inane government advice that had been sent to him when he asked the government about it after one of its constituents had approached him.

One thing is sure: this time, the ABS hoped for better quality data than ever before. Given the bid to invade people's privacy, the data is likely to be much worse. And for that, Kalisch will have only himself to blame.

47 REASONS TO ATTEND YOW! 2018

With 4 keynotes + 33 talks + 10 in-depth workshops from world-class speakers, YOW! is your chance to learn more about the latest software trends, practices and technologies and interact with many of the people who created them.

Speakers this year include Anita Sengupta (Rocket Scientist and Sr. VP Engineering at Hyperloop One), Brendan Gregg (Sr. Performance Architect Netflix), Jessica Kerr (Developer, Speaker, Writer and Lead Engineer at Atomist) and Kent Beck (Author Extreme Programming, Test Driven Development).

YOW! 2018 is a great place to network with the best and brightest software developers in Australia. You’ll be amazed by the great ideas (and perhaps great talent) you’ll take back to the office!

Register now for YOW! Conference

· Sydney 29-30 November
· Brisbane 3-4 December
· Melbourne 6-7 December

Register now for YOW! Workshops

· Sydney 27-28 November
· Melbourne 4-5 December

REGISTER NOW!

LEARN HOW TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF A CYBER ATTACK

Australia is a cyber espionage hot spot.

As we automate, script and move to the cloud, more and more businesses are reliant on infrastructure that has the high potential to be exposed to risk.

It only takes one awry email to expose an accounts’ payable process, and for cyber attackers to cost a business thousands of dollars.

In the free white paper ‘6 Steps to Improve your Business Cyber Security’ you’ll learn some simple steps you should be taking to prevent devastating and malicious cyber attacks from destroying your business.

Cyber security can no longer be ignored, in this white paper you’ll learn:

· How does business security get breached?
· What can it cost to get it wrong?
· 6 actionable tips

DOWNLOAD NOW!

Sam Varghese

website statistics

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the sitecame into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

Popular News

 

Telecommunications

 

Sponsored News

 

 

 

 

Connect