Pri­vacy creep

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - REAL ESTATE -

WELL, cen­sus night has been and gone, so it’s prob­a­bly safe to come out from un­der the bed now.

Do we need to be wor­ried about this lat­est cen­sus – there’s cer­tainly been an un­usual amount of com­ment about how this one’s shaped up.

Much of that has been due to the Bureau of Statis­tic’s clumsy and blase way of han­dling the sig­nif­i­cant changes in this cen­sus and the frame­work around it. It and the min­is­ter failed to pre­pare the pub­lic for the new rules that say we must give our names and ad­dresses to the gov­ern­ment which will then keep this data for four years, in­stead of the usual 18 months.

Did they re­ally think this lit­tle nicety would go un­no­ticed and un­re­marked?

If so it’s a prime ex­am­ple of the aloof­ness of gov­ern­ment and why it needs to be called out ev­ery time we meet it.

The ca­su­al­ness with which bu­reau­crats have shifted the bounds of pri­vacy is quite stun­ning.

It is “pri­vacy creep”. First they wanted our names and ad­dresses and now it’s for longer. What next?

It has taken this furore for me to dis­cover why they need our names in the first place. An econ­o­mist speak­ing on the ra­dio said it was so the mor­tal­ity rates of the in­dige­nous com­mu­nity could be mea­sured against the wider pop­u­la­tion – to help Close the Gap. Fair enough. At least now I know why.

One would hope the tak­ing of names at all is only a pass­ing thing. The hack­ing of the de­part­ment’s data­base is not a sur­prise and just demon­strates how lit­tle we can trust bu­reau­crats and their bosses. ++++++++ Speak­ing of ca­sual abuse, one won­ders whether the cli­mate change ac­tivists who this week at­tempted to use Port Dou­glas as a set­ting for an in­ter­na­tional pub­lic­ity stunt ever thought once about the po­ten­tial fall­out on the local econ­omy.

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