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Australia Conducting Electronic Census

timothy posted more than 7 years ago | from the please-list-ammunition-separately dept.

174

ajdlinux writes "On 8th August 2006, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will be conducting the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. The big difference this year is that you will now be able to fill out your census online. The technology, developed by IBM, cost AU$9 million and is designed to be accessible to screen readers, and, unlike similar efforts in Canada, does not require any special software. However, there is concern that the 2011 eCensus could be integrated with the proposed Human Services Access Card. Will this turn the Census from an anonymous snapshot into one connected with name-identified information?"

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174 comments

GNAA campaign against PHP and ZEND bears fruit (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844614)

GNAA campaign against PHP and ZEND bears fruit
GNAA campaign against PHP and ZEND bears fruit

Impi - Diplomatic Corp, South Africa

The ongoing war against PHP by the GNAA has finally produced results that are a step in the right direction. GNAA have been aggressively involved in a campaign to educate the public at large about the tremendous control that MOSSAD has over the development of PHP and the subsequent clandestine information gathering technology that has been implemented by Jewish developers.

The co-founders of Zend, the PHP Company, Zeev Suraski and Andi Gutmans are known Israeli MOSSAD agents; they were recruited by MOSSAD during their formative years at the Israel Institute of Technology.

On Friday, 28 July 2006, Jani Taskinen, aka _sniper_ resigned from the PHP development team. FYI: I don't care at all what anybody thinks about me. I'm going to be openly anti-Israel from now on. This was the last straw for me. Fuck you Jews. I will also quit this project. As long as it's backed by some Israel company, I don't want to have anything to do with it. Good bye.

This was a direct result of the ongoing war against Hezbollah which has been backed by the USA and primarily been driven by the information gathering technologies embedded in PHP by Zend.

Several GNAA members who were also part of the PHP development team have also resigned in solidarity with Jani Taskinen.

timecop, the glorious president of the GNAA has reacted in the wake of these events by extending an invitation of honorary lifetime GNAA membership to _sniper_, for having courage in his convictions.

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Zend is an Israeli funded body that is controlled by MOSSAD.


About PHP

Crap.


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Re:GNAA campaign against PHP and ZEND bears fruit (-1, Offtopic)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844631)

Hmm. Your ideas intrigue me, I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:GNAA campaign against PHP and ZEND bears fruit (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844952)

what the fuck has this to do with the OP???

delete!

Special software for Canada? (5, Informative)

Zab UvWxy (694326) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844621)

Funny, I filled in my household's data the week the census was opened for submissions, and I sure don't recall having to install any special software. Maybe it was a Java applet, but it sure as hell wasn't anything that I had to take action on.

Fellow Canuckleheads, did you have to install anything?

Re:Special software for Canada? (2, Informative)

befletch (42204) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844653)

Fellow Canuckleheads, did you have to install anything?

Yeah, I had to install this fancy program called a 'web browser'.

Seriously, I did mine using Safari on OS X, and I surf with plugins disabled. It could still have used Java, but that's it.

Re:Special software for Canada? (1)

Ethan Allison (904983) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844711)

Isn't Java integrated into OS X on a pretty low level? (At least to the point of not bing a 'plugin')

Re:Special software for Canada? (1)

whitehatlurker (867714) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844687)

Firefox. But it's a special browser.

Re:Special software for Canada? (2, Informative)

Zygamorph (917923) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844717)

Here are the software requirements

http://www50.statcan.ca/census2006/settings_1-0_e. htm/ [statcan.ca]

Which looks fairly inclusive. The only "special" things that I can see is that you must have any one of several Java virtual machines installed and support 128 bit encryption. It all seems reasonable.

Re:Special software for Canada? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844776)

When the census site was initially rolled-out, it rejected browsers running on Linux. That was changed after complaints were made and it was noted there was nothing about the site as it was that wouldn't work with Linux.

Re:Special software for Canada? (1)

mr_walrus (410770) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844755)

just my seamonkey and possibly the java runtime.
no hassle, quick and easy it was.

Re:Special software for Canada? (3, Interesting)

Reed Solomon (897367) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844791)

I Already had Java installed. How hard is it to install Java and a web browser? Worked fine. The only sickening thing about the Canadian census was it was being handled by an american firm. Like I want my information sifted through by the american government just because it goes through an american proxy and is subject to american laws? Screw that.

We did this already in New Zealand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844900)

And nope, no "special" or additional software was required or necessary.

I guess the desire by certain 'editors' to get Australia mentioned on Slashdot supercede's the need for anything of interest in the subsequent story.

Re:Special software for Canada? (1)

ajdlinux (913987) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845171)

By special software, yes I was referring to Java. Java's bad because as we all know it's proprietary. So it's impossible to use it on a completely open source system.

Re:Special software for Canada? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15845292)

You're a cock.

NZ did it first :-) (4, Informative)

roca (43122) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844624)

The NZ census held earlier this year supported Web-based online filing. It was a very clean UI (some touches of DHTML to streamline the interface), worked in IE, Firefox, Safari and Opera, and overall seemed to work very well indeed.

Re:NZ did it first :-) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844689)

I was just going to ask if that wasn't already the case. A fellow Kiwi, eh?

Re:NZ did it first :-) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844736)

who gives a shit what the hell NZ does...

Re:NZ did it first :-) (5, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844840)

who gives a shit what the hell NZ does.

You should. NZ is often well ahead of the pack when it comes to political freedoms. Universal suffrage, indigenous rights, social services and even the McGillicuddy Serious Party were established there well in advance of most of the world.
I'm an Aussie, so I should be taking the piss out of them, but the Kiwis benefit strongly from having a compact country, well educated population and a history of pragmatic politics.

PS, I'm a little ashamed of saying nice things about UnZudders, so if uny uv ewes read thus, please take the puss ut uv yersulves. Thunks.

Re:NZ did it first :-) (2, Funny)

Pete (2228) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844994)

Absolutely agreed. It's kind of unfortunate that their economy isn't doing quite as well as Australia's at the moment, so I can't quite justify going and finding a job there, but I still like them. They still have asshole politicians, but I've always felt that even their asshole politicians are better than ours. :)

And of course, baaa.

Re:NZ did it first :-) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15845116)

Dude if we had a massive outback full of mineral wealth... Ah well, I'm waiting for global warming to help fix the climate in NZ. The dangerous animals in Aussie just scare me too much ;-)

Re:NZ did it first :-) (1)

dreamlax (981973) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845129)

I went on a trip to Aussie not long ago... I'd have to say it was rather hard to understand peeeple huuu toork liiiike theeeess. I guess it's just one of those things... potato / potaato... Feesh and cheeps / fush and chups...

Oh, and you didn't mention the Consumer Guarantees Act of 1993. The most rediculous piece of legislation if you're a retailer, but certainly one of the best if you're a consumer (like the name implies). Consumer rights are huge and also emphasized in New Zealand. I'll give you an example of one (since I work in retail). A customer brought back a vacuum cleaner that is 8 months out of warranty (it had 12 months). They said a vacuum should last longer than this before dying under normal use. This is true. Reasonably, a vacuum should last longer than two years... and according to the CGA the retailer must provide the remedy. Panasonic (the manufacturer) received a letter or a phone call from the customer and probably had their ear masticated off about their rights as a consumer. Panasonic passed a credit onto us and we refunded them the money. We didn't just refund them our cost, but also our profit, some 20 months after the purchase!!! This is just one case in many. Talk to any NZer who has worked in retail after 1993 and he/she will have a story for you, guaranteed.

Consumers deserve some sort of protection regarding purchases, but the CGA states a lot of information about "reasonable life" of products and parts of products, and this introduces a lot of gray area, and from there it only takes good persuasion skills. We all know that gray area in law is bad. Nobody can correctly state the "reasonable life" of say a washing machine. Everyone uses it differently... it's almost as if the manufacturer has no need to supply a warranty with the product as it is up to the consumer to decide how long the appliance should last. Trust me, customers which are oblivious about the CGA are much, much easier to deal with.

Re:NZ did it first :-) (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844786)

It was a very clean UI (some touches of DHTML to streamline the interface), worked in IE, Firefox, Safari and Opera,
Thanks :) Although it was Asp.Net we ended up using standards-compliant validators and it worked well. Our performance testing meant that it didn't come down during peak times too.

IBM have a poor performance record in Australia, anyone remember their Olympics site which was an accessibility nightmare and how they lied to say it would cost 50M to support WAI Level 1?

Re:NZ did it first :-) (1)

Large Green Mallard (31462) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845131)

IBM's Sydney Olympics site was a LONG time ago in terms of technology - It was launched almost 7 years ago.

We've all moved on and learned since then. It is no longer acceptable to quote $50M for a website. People have worked out that it's not actually /that/ complex.

Re:NZ did it first :-) (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844798)

Yep, NZ did it in March this year. And there was a *lot* of effort put into ensuring that the interface worked on pretty much every graphical browser known to man. Or the big four, at least. Another interesting aspect was the effort put into supporting a Maori language version.

A very well-run project by Statistics NZ and partners, even if they didn't quite get the number of online respondees they were expecting.

http://subs.nzherald.co.nz/column/story.cfm?c_id=7 09&ObjectID=10371864 [nzherald.co.nz]

Re:NZ did it first :-) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844851)

Damn those Aussies always stealing our ideas. Oh well I guess it is fair, they get all our dole bludgers.

NZ is our UAT environment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844863)

We use New Zealand as our UAT environment for this stuff :-P

Re:NZ did it first :-) (1)

htnprm (176191) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844907)

I was impressed how smoothly the online NZ census worked. I used Firefox and had by wife use IE. It was quick, easy and worked flawlessly. The Aussies will stuff theirs up though...:-P

Re:NZ did it first :-) (1)

bitserf (756357) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844966)

Yep, very impressed by how clean and usable it was. No special software required, no Java/ActiveX needed, and a fast efficient workflow. Took a few minutes and I was done.

I'd like to see the hardware. (3, Interesting)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844627)

I'd like to see the hardware they have to handle the web traffic. There will be litterally millions of people trying to access the webpage on the day. I'd really like to submit my information electronically but I'm not going to wait around for ages to do it if the system dies in the arse.

I'd rather fill out the form if its going to take me just as much time to submit it online.

Assuming the system stands up to the traffic I'm all for it. I can type my details much faster then write them and I don't have to talk to the census collector when they come to get it.

Also:
Jedi as your religion FTW!

Re:I'd like to see the hardware. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844663)

I'd rather declare my faith as a Pastafarian.

Re:I'd like to see the hardware. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844818)

That's what I'm declaring.....If my wife let's me :o

Re:I'd like to see the hardware. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844914)

I've already submitted and completed my online census...

It can be done at any time, even after the day as the questions all relate to who is in the house on the night of Tuesday 8 Aug, so if you already know who will be there it's a valid submission.

----------------
Ozzy!

May the force be with you! :grin:

Re:I'd like to see the hardware. (1)

downunda_wookiee (755913) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844946)

It's probably not too different from the hardware used to run E-Tax, which, when you actually see it, isn't that impressive (or maybe I'm just used to looking at it?).

cheers,
.wook

Re:I'd like to see the hardware. (1)

david.birch (920748) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844982)

They did have 9mil - so accounting for writing what is a very simple web app, they should have had about 8.5 left for hardware... though i guess it will be getting crippled by WAS :)

Re:I'd like to see the hardware. (1)

alephsmith (937899) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845082)

Well you don't have to complete it on Census Night. You can do it anytime from now until Aug 28th I believe. But please consider doing it as it makes the job of the collector a lot easier.

Re:I'd like to see the hardware. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845169)

There will be litterally millions of people trying to access the webpage on the day.

Lets test it. I propose that all .au slashdotters submit their form at exactly 10:00:00 UTC on the day. Maybe we can melt a server. Its unlikely though. The ABS (of all people) would have forseen this.

Behind the times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844628)

Online census submission was done in New Zealand earlier this year, that is how I filled out mine.

What special software? (4, Informative)

Minwee (522556) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844629)

The Canadian online census form required a web browser and Java [statcan.ca] . While that's a step up from being a plain HTML form, I think calling it "special software" is a bit of an exaggeration.

Re:What special software? (2, Insightful)

ispeters (621097) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845061)

Well, it didn't work for me. I s'pose I'm not the typical Canadian, but Firefox on Linux is not supported by the 2006 Canadian census (although Firefox on Windows is).

At first I thought it was 'cause I'm running a 64-bit Firefox on AMD64, but even the 32-bit version on my x86 laptop wouldn't let me finish. I tried to bypass their checks using a Firefox plugin that spoofs the User Agent, but then it froze part way through and I lost all my work. I was very frustrated, to say the least, considering it's just a friggin survey and you don't need anything more than SSL and HTML 4.0.

Ian

Don't Fear the Census (4, Insightful)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844647)

It is silly to worry about the cenusus being used to collect your personal information. The government already does that much more frequently and accurately through taxes.

Re:Don't Fear the Census (2, Informative)

askegg (599634) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844735)

While the government could track certain things about you via BAS statements and tax returns, there is a LOT more information available in census data.

Re:Don't Fear the Census (1)

jkburges (991357) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844813)

...assuming you're in fact a tax payer (or at least have a tax file number), which of course, not everybody is.

Re:Don't Fear the Census (1)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844886)

The people who don't pay taxes (the poor) aren't important to the government. They have no voice, nor can they afford weapons to create unrest. Of course children don't pay taxes either, but their parents note them as dependants, so the government does have a record of them.

Re:Don't Fear the Census (1)

jkburges (991357) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844910)

I disagree - surely the government is very interested to know how many people are out there who require social welfare (poor) and education (children). Whether or not they choose to do anything about it (i.e. provide "adequate" social welfare/health/education) is of course another matter entirely.

Re:Don't Fear the Census (1)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844997)

I was talking about collection information about individuals in a privacy invasive way. The government has no need or desire to do that in order to set up whatever public services for the poor the voters insist on.

More traffic than a slashdotted site (2, Funny)

wildman6801 (763038) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844652)

Just think about it for a second if a site that will hold that kind of information is going to get more traffic than a slashdotted site. Hope they don't do it in the US because no server the goverment can afford take that kind of beatting or cowboyneal could give to it!

Re:More traffic than a slashdotted site (1)

ChaoticChowder (971057) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844942)

I'd beg to differ... I'm in the military and we have a server or two that could handle the slashdotting. However, the bandwidth on the other hand, we don't have that...

Got my information pack a couple of days ago... (2, Funny)

Centurix (249778) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844672)

Little old lady knocked on the door, gave me all the gear I needed. You get the normal forms and then an envelope containing your online code to be entered in for your household. I'll give the online one a bash and then fashion the paper one into a nice evening jacket...

Re:Got my information pack a couple of days ago... (1)

g-lock82 (993180) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844716)

Those little old ladies are well equipped too. If you tell them that you're filling out your census online, and you don't for some reason, they'll get a text message telling them to pop back over to your place and gently remind you/see if you need help.

Re:Got my information pack a couple of days ago... (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844894)

Those little old ladies are well equipped too.

I wonder how often thay get invited to share some liver with fava beans and a nice chianti. Probably after the first week their laughs are bit forced.

Re:Got my information pack a couple of days ago... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845172)

Probably after the first week their laughs are bit forced.

I remember that last time one of the people running the census commented in an interview that they were totally sick of hearing "nude" stories.

Re:Got my information pack a couple of days ago... (1)

aaza (635147) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844883)

...fashion the paper one into a nice evening jacket...

No, your supposed to do that with your tax reciepts.

Or maybe I've watched too much Black Books. Nah, can't be. No such thing as too much British Comedy.

Anonymous...Bullshit (1)

cloricus (691063) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844676)

How can it be anonymous when you have to give your name, address, where you work, and what you are currently doing as well as the IP address if you are doing it online and other random bits of information. This is the most invasive census I've ever been a part of.

Re:Anonymous...Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844763)

we're coming to get you, cloricus

Re:Anonymous...Bullshit (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845011)

So use the paper version.

Re:Anonymous...Bullshit (1)

cammoblammo (774120) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845285)

The paper version asks for:
  1. Address of where you spend the night on 8/8/06
  2. Other people living at the same place that night.
  3. Gender
  4. Date of Birth or age
  5. Relationship to other people in (1) and (2)
  6. Marital status
  7. Aboriginality
  8. Usual address
  9. Usual address 12 months ago
  10. Usual address 5 years ago
  11. Citizenship

...And so on in the same vein. Okay, it doesn't ask for your IP address, but it still asks a bit!

Re:Anonymous...Bullshit (1)

alephsmith (937899) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845097)

Who cares if it is anonymous. Are you afraid they will find out your are Jedi?

This Census is a Wasted Opportunity (3, Insightful)

sasha328 (203458) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844681)

The census comes around every 5 years. The questions are so bland, and demographic as to really make this census, not useless, but a wasted opportunity.
It would have been so easy to include some extra questions (not political ones, because no government would agree in mid-term), but rather social questions. Like some national survey instead of a selective one (like a poll of a 1000 people).
I can think of one question that would be highly applicable to all Australians:
Would you support recycled sewerage being pumped back to the potable water supply?
Or
Rate your preference for a solution to the water shortage problems: 1) Desalination, 2) recycling, 3) more dams, 4) long distance canals, 5) relocate the towns/cities, etc...

But, all the questions are related to how do you get to work, how much do you earn and where do you study...
Sad. Same questions as last census.
Hopefully in the future this will change.

Re:This Census is a Wasted Opportunity (1)

g-lock82 (993180) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844695)

The reason they don't ask for your views is that the census is run by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and they couldn't give a stuff about people's opinions. Their job is to assemble population snapshot data.

Re:This Census is a Wasted Opportunity (1)

Pete (2228) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844721)

(re: the ABS not giving a stuff about people's opinions)

Except of course for that one little (optional? I wouldn't know, I haven't even looked at the last two Oz censuses, much less filled them out) question about religious affiliation. Which, of course, is about the only question with which the form-fillers can have a bit of fun. Damn Jedi :).

Re:This Census is a Wasted Opportunity (1)

ross.w (87751) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844747)

This information is to help decide where to put new churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, whatever. To do that you have to know where the people who need them are.

Re:This Census is a Wasted Opportunity (1)

Pete (2228) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844980)

You may have misunderstood me a tad. I wasn't meaning to imply that the question was entirely valueless (though it is - if religious communities can't work out where to build their disinformation centres, fuck them), I was taking an opportunity to mock religion as nothing more than an (ill-informed) opinion :-).

The overall effects of including such a question in the census are (IMHO) more negative than positive. People really don't need more excuses to separate themselves from the dreaded "Others". I can especially see this sort of shit causing paranoia among the WASPier Australians when they get more detailed info about how the Muslim Australians are outbreeding them.

To a large extent, this is a racial/ethnic question in disguise. Stupid. I can see some justification for the rest of the census (though I still choose to not participate), but not this question.

Re:This Census is a Wasted Opportunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844707)

Those are questions for referenda, not the census.

Please, spare us (5, Insightful)

violet16 (700870) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844820)

Christ, the last thing you want is to start putting questions like that on a census.

Almost all social research can deliver highly accurate findings using a relatively small sample. Interviewing one thousand people will give you extremely high levels of confidence in the results, providing of course you don't fuck up the methodology. After that, you're mostly wasting everybody's time.

Australians are required to complete the census by law. Even if you make the questions optional, adding a bunch of "nice-to-know"s is a big misuse of national manpower. And just imagine the kind of push-polling you'd get if you opened the floodgates and let government departments throw in social-research questions. ("Do you support the government protecting the lives of unborn babies by banning stem cell research?")

There's a need for social research, and governments already do enormous amounts of it. But you don't need to interview 20 million people to find out that most people don't like the idea of drinking recylcled sewerage.

Re:Please, spare us (1)

bmgoau (801508) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845293)

Australian here...

It's actually a common misconception amoung our population that when the people behind water saving development schemes refer to "waste water", people imagine they are talking about recycling sewerage. Of course this is not true, infact when they refer to waste water they mean in the form of "storm water".

In many cases the storm water, after similar treatment to dam water is much cleaner then dam water itself, having not been prone to turbidity and eutrophication, as well as having lower levels of dissolved solids.

However...

The recycling of waste "storm water" is only a stop gab, as all recycling eventually is. Entropy must increase, isaac asimov would say, and so the real push for the government should be to invest in desalination and more dams (the dams around sydney were built when Sydneys population was 1/5 of what it is now).

Re:Please, spare us (1)

wynterx (148276) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845322)

So are you telling me that all the conflict in Toowoomba at the moment is about storm water, not recycled sewerage?

As a disclosure, I am Western Australian, but have spent time in QLD, so I am distant from the actual events, but am interested in what is going on...

Re:This Census is a Wasted Opportunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844843)

"Would you support recycled sewerage being pumped back to the potable water supply?"

lol it already is. Any town that is downstream from another gets the upstream ones sewerage.

Re:This Census is a Wasted Opportunity (4, Informative)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844908)

I can think of one question that would be highly applicable to all Australians: Would you support recycled sewerage being pumped back to the potable water supply?

How about "Have you stopped beating your wife?".

All water is "recycled sewage". Every drop you drink has been pissed out of billions of creatures. Back to the question: You have to give alternatives, obviously no one will choose to drink "recycled sewage" whewn you ask that question. What is the alternative "fresh, clean, distilled water at zero cost"? (I think not.) Paying more for desalinated water? Paying more to pipe it in from thousands of miles away? Singapore has been drinking "recycled sewage" for decades, and a more antiseptic place you've never seen.

Re:This Census is a Wasted Opportunity (1)

spuzzzzzzz (807185) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844978)

I think you missed his point. Queenslanders recently voted [theage.com.au] not to recycle their water on the grounds that it's too icky. OP was just curious as to whether we're all that stupid.

Re:This Census is a Wasted Opportunity (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845115)

I think you missed his point.

Maybe I was unfair to him. But it's still a loaded question. If you look at, e.g., the amount of rat shit or preservatives legally permitted in food, who would agree to that if you asked them? There is no choice for "pure" food and drink, everything is polluted to an extent. And I had a look at your link; "Citizens Against Drinking Sewage". What a bunch of loonies, the same kind of idiots who opposed fluoridation and gave me a mouthful of fillings in my teens.

Screwing up methodology? (3, Interesting)

NewsWatcher (450241) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844688)

"Will this turn the Census from an anonymous snapshot into one connected with name-identified information?"

I would think another problem is that it will mean the census is no longer a snapshot of a single day in Australia.

Check out this article [theage.com.au] .

Re:Screwing up methodology? (2, Interesting)

askegg (599634) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844746)

And no one ever filled in their census forms before the "official" day before now?

Special Software? (2, Informative)

nuckfuts (690967) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844698)

...unlike similar efforts in Canada, does not require any special software.

I filled out my Canadian census online and didn't need any special software. All I used was Firefox, IIRC.

Information ON the card? No, but ... (1)

askegg (599634) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844783)

Privacy groups have expressed concern that any Human Services Access Card could easily morph into a de facto Australia card and be used to house sensitive information. Human Services Minister Joe Hockey has dismissed such claims, saying the card will only have information on it which is approved by the holder.
The Minister is probably right; they house sensitive information in a central database - the card itself only has a unique identifier on it.

Seriously, by what process do I approve what is held on the card and how can I check they are the only things being stored? How do I know some clandestine government organisation is not collating the data and tracking my every move? What do I care if they are?

Anonymous snapshot? (5, Insightful)

Swift(void) (655825) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844789)

Will this turn the Census from an anonymous snapshot into one connected with name-identified information?"
Errr, the first 2 questions of the census is "Whats your address" and "Whats the name of everybody at this address on census night". They dont need some card to tie the data to particular people. They can already do that if they want, and have been able to for many many years. I am sure it would not take too much effort for them to find out how much money i was earning 4 years ago, whether i have moved house, and what phoney religion i put in last time.

Re:Anonymous snapshot? (5, Informative)

Elvis77 (633162) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844941)

The Commonwealth Government already know all about you if you:
1. Pay taxes
2. Get allowances for your children or
3. Have a child born.

When our 4th child was born I earned too much money to be able to claim the $15.00 per fortnight allowance so we didn't fill in the forms in the hospital ($15.00 I don't have to earn is better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick right?). Three years later when Ethan was going to day care they (the Commonwealth Public Servants) had kittens

"When did you adopt Ethan?", "Are you his natural mother?" "When did you get possession of Ethan?" His birth certificate sorted it out in the end.

For the non Aussies out there the State Government registers births and issues birth certificates but the Commonwealth Government pays the $15.00 per fortnight and childcare allowance.

Canadian special software (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15844794)

ya that special software was the latest version of Safari.

did the whole thing in about 15 seconds.

there was no step three.

Hmm (1)

Zelbinian (992687) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844819)

The strange thing about the Australian census is they're really strict about it. I'm an exchange student here right now, and despite the fact that I'm not an Australian citizen and may never be, I have just as much obligation to fill this out and fast. We get like, 1 or 2 days to fill it out and turn it in or we're charged fines of $100/day until it's done. Makes you wonder what happens to people traveling who can't even get the paperwork, nevermind to somewhere that they can drop it off.

Re:Hmm (1)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844950)

If you don't get given the paperwork by someone then filling it in's not your problem.
And afaik they hand out the forms a good week before the count date.

Re:Hmm (1)

Pete (2228) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845008)

I can only say that I haven't filled it out for at least the last two times and I haven't been hassled by anyone. Maybe I'm just lucky. We'll see.

I've often wondered how high that $100/day bullshit could go before it falls into the too-stupid-for-words category. So, not filling in a form gets you a fine that's much larger than that for not voting, for driving over the speed limit, drink-driving, physical assault... and unlike all the others, it keeps increasing. Yeah, right :).

Re:Hmm (1)

Macgrrl (762836) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845043)

If you are staying at a hotel or other public facility, they will give you a copy of the Census to complete. If you are staying at a friends, you are supposed to be included on their household form. IF you are overseas presumably you don't need to fill it in.

Re:Hmm (1)

Zelbinian (992687) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845069)

The reason I found this weird is that it would seem that the results from such rules would be inherently askew. For instance, what happens if an entire household is out visiting someone else at that time? Do they consider that household vacant now? And does the place their visiting get to include all those people for taxation purposes? If so, everyone come over my place. The electronic form version is a good idea, as it would eliminate a lot of these irregularities. People could just jump online from wherever, fill it out accurately, and then go on their way. Way to go, Australia.

the ABS faq on privacy (1)

quogmire (689511) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844844)

The already can track you with the paper forms, but they don't and are forbidden by law to do so. http://tinyurl.com/juxwc [tinyurl.com] This is not America, despite the current government's best efforts.

Re:the ABS faq on privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15845126)

This is kinda false. Any secret agency can ignore the Privacy Act and collect as much information as they want. Moreover, once it's in their hands, ASIO is not bounded by any law not to disclose them... I'm very suspicious about this Census...

Re:the ABS faq on privacy (1)

ajdlinux (913987) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845212)

Australia is not known for having the government break the law. Politicians, that's a different matter. But when the ABS collects data, they are bound under the Census and Statistics Act never to release it without permission (e.g. Census Q59), and even with directions from the Minister they can only release non-identifying information. I don't really see this as a privacy issue myself. I actually don't really have much problem with the new e-passports and welfare cards, as they actually have good points (speeding up immigration and preventing welfare fraud.) Also unlike the US, Australia has not had any major issues with election fraud, at least not on the part of the Electoral Commission, and major events like elections and censuses tend to be more open (e.g. scrutineers (all appointed by candidates or the Governor [General]) watch over the counting and the destruction of the census forms is watched by observers.)

On the religion choice (2, Funny)

Mir322 (519212) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844854)

Jedi,

Down under, may the force be with you!

Re:On the religion choice (1)

TheDugong (701481) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845084)

One can only pray that these heathen Jedi will one day drop their lightsabres and be touched by his noodly appendage.

Having completed the census (2, Interesting)

dcam (615646) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844931)

I can say the they have done quite a good job. It is pretty slick. Some DHTML (mostly disabling questions based on earlier answers).

I imagine it will seriously cut down the amount of time taken to process the census. I have a friend who works on this stuff so I might ask him.

One complaint they have is that lots of people are filling out the census before the actual census night. This is allowed, you are answering questions about what will be happening on a night in the future.

Re:Having completed the census (1)

dcam (615646) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844935)

Oh, and it works fine in Firefox. I didn't bother to try any other browsers.

Census != sense (2, Funny)

bunhed (208100) | more than 7 years ago | (#15844973)

The Canadian census fiasco caused me no end of grief. They never sent me a form and then hounded me for a month about not sending the form they didn't send me in. Then one day I get a notice pinned to my door, without the form of course, threatening jail time and fines (3 months and $500). Well that's motivating so I tried to fill the thing out on-line but since I did not get a form I did not get a special code to punch in. On top of all that the java thing wouldn't run in FF and linux anyway. (At least they tried to keep it non-IE specific, I'll give 'em that.) So I called the toll-free number on the notice and dude did the question thing over the phone in 2 minutes and gave me a confirmation number. "What's that for?", I wonder. "In case anyone calls", he says. Yeah, yeah, I'm here now go away. But no. They continue to leave me threatening notices and phone messages for another two weeks so I finally find the local number and give dudette my confirmation number. She apologizes and tells me there is no way for her to know if I did the thing on-line or by phone. "Say what?? But isn't it in some computer somewhere? I clearly heard dude tapping on a keyboard!" Well yes but how it works is I have to call her directly and give her the confirmation number because she does not have access to that computer and the people that do (in our nations capital I presume, or possibly the District of Columbia which would explain much) don't send the info back to the local door bangers. I guess that feature would complicate things and I suppose they're still working out a few bugs.

Maybe if Vista is out for the next one in 5 years the info will be able to move in both directions.

Re:Census != sense (1)

RajivSLK (398494) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845227)

I thought the Canadian census went pretty well. I filled out the form online and despite that the Canadian Goverment had the genuine deceny pay for a gorgeous girl to comeover and tell me that I had an apartment "B" attached to my house when clearly I didn't (The must have noticed that I indicated I was "single" on the form). I invited her to share some wine in the garden with me and we are now both very thankfull to the Canadian goverment. Thanks guys....

I'm just wondering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15845007)

When do us Yankees/Rednecks get to fill our census online?

Computerworld have the story wrong.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15845031)

Computerworld didn't RTPR (Read The Press Release) and got the story wrong.

There won't be any inclusion of census data or linking of data to the smartcard. See http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/d3310114.nsf/4a25 6353001af3ed4b2562bb00121564/3f66b0f18ba6dd0dca257 1be0006834b!OpenDocument [abs.gov.au]

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is tin-foil-hat-league paranoid about protecting the confidentiality of information that it gets from its surveys and censuses.

Disclaimer, I work there.

(Oh, the online census form works fine on Firefox/Linux in case you are in Australia and need to fill one out...but not before the 8th of August, ok!)

Specific Questions (1)

glowworm (880177) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845070)

I've been in and had a quick look and it's a nice site that works under Linux (all you need is Javascript enabled).

What will be fun though are the answers to specific questions. There is a grassroots push for anyone who doesn't wish to answer the religion question to put FSM or Pastafarian (Flying Spaghetti Monster if you were wondering, as a protest against intelligent design) in. This would be more fun tha listing Jedi as 70,000 people did in 2001, and as we have the option to release full uncensored details in 2105 to our descendants it will be a great joke on them. Pity that we won't be around to see them scratch their heads on that one.

The other "informal" answer question is number 5, marital status. There is a similar push to have "Same Sex Marriage" put in as the answer for anyone who wishes to protest the Howard/Costello coservative constitutional amendments rushed through to stop such an act.

Re:Specific Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15845150)

Thanks for the comment about the site, I had a little to do with the "initial" trimming and standardizing of it. Also you can avoid Java Script (I think) by selecting the accessable version from one of the first pages.

Re:Specific Questions (1)

mickford (879336) | more than 7 years ago | (#15845178)

anyone who doesn't wish to answer the religion question

The religion question is optional.

Worry about incompetence, not malice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15845219)

This will be a bit long, and I can only draw the dots for you (my conclusions are too inflammatory). If you are on this page, you are concerned about you privacy and security, and you deserve to know enough to make your own mind up about whether you are being well-served or not.

I feel able to comment on this because of my previous lives as:

1) Designer of well-known loyalty programs, both in Oz and other countries, both market analysis AND transactional. This was crossed with census data.

2) A former public servant who had MAJOR fights about non-compliance with privacy and accessibility of web sites.

3) I was competent enough in the 1980s to be invited to be the tech lead in an electronic warfare project, which I refused, and I've seen hints that Oz agencies have been snooped on by non-allies (hint May 2001).

Whether or not there is "Big Brother" malice by our double-plus-good government, very few agencies are up to the task of good data custodianship - and this opens things up for abuse. It's worth considering the commercial value of census information......

OK, the first thing to realize is just how small a Census Sub Sub District (CSSD) is, and what this allows an unscrupulous person to do. It's pretty easy to narrow things down to a single household unless most of the people in your half-block have the same number of adults, same number of kids, similar relationships, etc. You won't be sure you know who the stats belong to, but you can guess. An analogy is with an employee database, when you aren't allowed to query an individual's salary, only averages and totals for groups - but you can select a group WITH and WITHOUT the person of interest, and then it is just simple maths.

Combine this with the generally poor recordkeeping, data custodianship practices and technical competencies in many agencies, (I'll tell you how to figure out how good an agency is at dotting i's and crossing t's in a minute or two), the number of contractors now in agencies (who don't realize they have a regulatory requirement to act just like a public servant, and may have other agenda), poor governance, and you might begin to see the problem.

MIND YOU, MANY PROBLEMS COULD BE AMELIORATED SIMPLY BY A TEN-FOLD INCREASE IN FUNDS TO THE AUDIT OFFICE (www.anao.gov.au), BUT FEW IN POWER WANT THAT?

So, the trick is to see just how competent an agency is. How do you do that from the outside? Well, examining the web pages of a site (don't hack, just LOOK at what they send you during normal activities) will give you some indications. Compare what the agency DOES with what the MINIMUM requirements for websites of agencies (or government owned businesses, or agency work sub-contracted out). You can find these requirements at www.agimo.gov.au/practice/mws and use the theory that "if there are cockroaches at the front of the restaurant, it will be REAL bad in the kitchen where customers don't go". As "The Economist" said, website quality is a good proxy indicator of the quality of the company or agency that owns the pages.

DO THESE TESTS MANUALLY, ONLY TEST DATA THE AGENCY KNOWS THEY SEND TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD AS PART OF NORMAL ACTIVITY, AND YOU CAN'T GET DONE FOR HACKING.

How do you tell an agencies committment and competence in technology and contract management?

A. Do they know HTML, the basic language of web pages?

      If a website cannot give you error-free HTML, which is pretty easy, then there is little chance they are doing the hard stuff in the back office, which you cannot see. So, how many stupid errors does the home page have. Check it out using http://validator.w3.org/ [w3.org] and type in the web address you want checked. Compare the number of simple syntax errors between agencies and companies. For starters, http://www.abs.gov.au/ [abs.gov.au] has 48, http://stream0.census.abs.gov.au/eCensusWeb/ [abs.gov.au] has 1, http://www.ato.gov.au/ [ato.gov.au] has 119. OUCH! What is it like in the tax-department's kitchen where they have to be ultra secure and ultra accurate to the last cent?

B. How do they rate for accessibility and privacy?

      The easiest way to check this is by the occasional use of webxact.watchfire.com. Again, just type in the address you want checked. The eCensusWeb page does not seem to have a "P3P compact policy" (warning) and uses http-get for forms (bigger no-no), but at least they meet the minimum accessibility requirements.

C. Recordkeeping

      For years, all government documents, especially websites, should have been "metadata-ed" up, with a description, author, audience, keywords, etc, in the HTML header. See national archives (naa.gov.au) for what they should do. The eCensus web page has NONE of these. Of course, if government documents even on their intranets had this information, ministers would be able to know what was going on in their departments by "googling" their departmental or whole-of-government intranet. The tax office (www.ato.gov.au) at least does this, as does www.naa.gov.au.

Conclusion:

So, if you are concerned that your personal data is safe from falling into the wrong hands and being abused, (even if you are confident there is no malice), then find out the differences between what government agencies SHOULD do and what they DO do. If this difference is too great, get agitated and active. I tried. I've still got the scars from trying to do the right thing for you all.

Oh, by the way, you can use the same techniques to get proxies of management competence between banks, telcos, major IT suppliers..... before you invest or buy.

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