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Topic # 114470 20-Feb-2013 18:31 Send private message

Wow that is a lot of personal info being asked for.

I called up their hotline and asked if I really have to answer all of these questions, they admitted that not all are compulsory and asked which questions I have issues with. I tried to get through all questions to get a list of which ones are voluntary, but they talked to their supervisor and refused to tell me which ones are left.

I am just concerned about having so much personal details in a single database. In the wrong hands that is a data security nightmare.

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  Reply # 766614 20-Feb-2013 18:38 Send private message

I still haven't even got the form to be honest. When are they expected to be delivered by? I got missed out in the last two censuses (censii?) too.

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  Reply # 766617 20-Feb-2013 18:42 Send private message

so what would be the wrong hands i suppose needs to be asked




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  Reply # 766618 20-Feb-2013 18:42 Send private message

Is the form in general compulsory?





Sometimes what you don't get it a blessing in disguise!

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  Reply # 766621 20-Feb-2013 18:44 Send private message

Kyanar: I still haven't even got the form to be honest. When are they expected to be delivered by? I got missed out in the last two censuses (censii?) too.


You should have called Statistics NZ had you not received any forms.

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  Reply # 766622 20-Feb-2013 18:46 Send private message

Is the census compulsory?
Yes. Filling in census forms is required by law. Under the Statistics Act 1975, everyone in New Zealand on census day must fill in a census form.




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  Reply # 766632 20-Feb-2013 18:50 Send private message

But, as outlined in the first post, if some questions are not compulsory, which ones are they?

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  Reply # 766637 20-Feb-2013 19:03 Send private message

I've had a flick through and nothing bothers me to have on record and most is available from other Government departments anyway.

I see no reason not to fill it out but I'm sure a few will so eagerly awaiting their reasoning.




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  Reply # 766640 20-Feb-2013 19:08 Send private message

All that is required is your name, address and occupation as well as the signature. Nine times in ten the person who picks up the form will not even check the rest.

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  Reply # 766647 20-Feb-2013 19:33 Send private message

StevieT:
Kyanar: I still haven't even got the form to be honest. When are they expected to be delivered by? I got missed out in the last two censuses (censii?) too.


You should have called Statistics NZ had you not received any forms.


Except that I have no way of knowing that.

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  Reply # 766649 20-Feb-2013 19:39

StevieT: But, as outlined in the first post, if some questions are not compulsory, which ones are they?


You can Tick "Object to answering this question " to Religion? and How many babies have you given birth to?

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 766651 20-Feb-2013 19:40 Send private message

Kyanar:
StevieT:
Kyanar: I still haven't even got the form to be honest. When are they expected to be delivered by? I got missed out in the last two censuses (censii?) too.


You should have called Statistics NZ had you not received any forms.


Except that I have no way of knowing that.


I would have thought you'd use your brain and figure that out for yourself, really.

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  Reply # 766652 20-Feb-2013 19:41 Send private message

Try again - last reply got munted!!!

quote - Wow that is a lot of personal info being asked for.

I called up their hotline and asked if I really have to answer all of these questions, they admitted that not all are compulsory and asked which questions I have issues with. I tried to get through all questions to get a list of which ones are voluntary, but they talked to their supervisor and refused to tell me which ones are left.

I am just concerned about having so much personal details in a single database. In the wrong hands that is a data security nightmare. end quote


I'll take a moment to answer this as someone who has been on the inside of the process.

I worked at STATSNZ for a period of 9 months and prior to that and post that have worked on and off as a contractor on several projects, including providing progamming support for one of the census 8 or so years ago (as well as databases that end up with census driven data).

Despite what we all like to believe SNZ is not full of CIA brainwashed monsters looking to hand your soul to big daddy. Tongue Out Quite the opposite in fact. Further more if I was being nasty, I wouuld say no Govt dept is organised enough to be able to track an individual, little less anyone else doing so using their systems. how do I know that? Experience of burecracys.

Now - in the case of SNZ - not only would the general difficulty of extracting data from a beurecratic system be in play but they are actively dedicated to making sure you stay anonymous.

One of the main concerns held by statisticians working for SNZ is the anonymising of data. The concern for this anonnimity is so great that there was once an instance where the general turnover of one of NZs larger companies could be guessed or reasonably worked out because, in the GDP break down by industry, they were such a large player that the figure given for that industry to the people who work out GDP allowed a reasonable estimate of their turn over to be estimated. SNZ had a huge internal inquiry, and I believe the minister for stats was involved. A lot of Thous shalt nots and new processes descended rapidly.

This was for a situation where a reasonable guess could be made, with no explicit information given but a probable inference was possible.

Turning back to the census. One of the first processes your information goes through is anonimisation. You are turned from Joe Bloggs into a gendered person of certain age, socio econominc demographics, race, religion and other statisitcally relevant features. At this point you are nothing more than a number which cannot be traced back to an individual. Think of it this way - your data is fed into a black box program that a on the other side of an impenertrable wall assigns a number against your stats and then hands it off to the statistical crunching machine.

Your name is no longer able to be put against your stats as the black box doesnt know who you are and the feeder of data doesnt know what number you were given. Your stats are divorced from you.

To make matters worse, the data that is collected is collated, optimised, massaged, tabulated, calculated, bifurcated, carbonated and a number of other equally nasty processes applied until it is morphed into an anonymous amorphus mass of generic stats.

Part of this process ensures your privacy. It is an essential part of what SNZ holds dear. If for instance I was to submit a query for all Wizards of age 60 plus living in the nelson area to find thier median wage and marital status I would not be able to do so unless Ian B (the Wizard of Chch who now lives in Nelson and who may or may not be on a boat during census) is able to not be identifiable as an individual (same as the company example cited above).

So what happens to your name, the forms etc? I believe they are destroyed.

The data that is your name, address and other identifying features are used long enough to check you filled in a census form but again are divorced from any statistical or personal data other than the essentials required to make contact with you and identify you as an individual for the purposes of ensuring you comply with the Census requirement of filling a form out and getting it back in. That data is then destroyed.

Many of the follow up e.g. the prosecution databases ( ) only hold those names and identifying details of individuals who failed to comply with the law - no other. They are also not accesible (or were not when I was there) from most of SNZ and defintely not from external sources.

You can request a summary of all data held about you from the relvent organisations. You can, and by law are guarenteed, that full disclose be made as to the use, disposal and dissemination of your information. The NZ privacy act is a fearful thing in the hand of beaurecrats and doubly fearful to the beaurecrats who labour under it.

Lastly - I am no fan of Govt departments. While there are many good people in them, as a whole Govt departments are normally slow, beurecratic, under performing and often incompetent. The stories I could tell if the SIS werent tapping my phones to ensure i comply with NZs Official Secrets act ( just kidding guys .. honestly .. just kidding ... you dont have to kidnap me and render me to Governors Bay or some other place start with G .... I know you arent tapping my phones - you guys arent that sophisitcated ... I mean organised .. I mean ... oh help!!!!! Long live the world order. Long live King Key ... I wont talk honest!!! )

Anyway - silliness aside , my point is that Govt is benign and if it wasnt the chances of them being interested in you are virtually nil. I know I am not interesting enough to bother with and my life is way too boring to come to their attention little less them bother using my stats which they could only get by digging out a census form from a pile of paper in a massive store house full of the paper crap we fill out for the Govt on a daily basis. Besides which I am sure it is destroyed after being processed.

AS for third parties, good luck guessing which of the 40 -50ish males, born in on a day ending in AY , working in IT, living in chch and who actually managed to breed I am. As for birth dates, middle names, first names, surnames, addresses, .... go through all the anonymous numbers, steal into a ware house and sift through a pile of ash to try to guess which one belongs to me. Personally I feel very safe.

HTH

Shane
PS do you think stats would fund me to make a documentary called Who the hell am I - sharing the above info to make people feel safe? I think it would make a nice piece of PR. The final scene would be me swimming bravely out towards the sunset with a pen and census form clutched in my teeth, aiming towards a little row boat out near the seven mile mark, manned by a man in a pointy hat and long beard to ensure NZs stats are complete and usable. - Queue shark and jaws sound track.






nunz

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  Reply # 766656 20-Feb-2013 19:47 Send private message

Bung:
StevieT: But, as outlined in the first post, if some questions are not compulsory, which ones are they?


You can Tick "Object to answering this question " to Religion? and How many babies have you given birth to?


I plan to answer 6 to number of babies and then wait to see if the stats computers blow up trying to fit a slot with men who have had babies :)





nunz

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  Reply # 766657 20-Feb-2013 19:48

nunz: So what happens to your name, the forms etc? I believe they are destroyed.



The Form states " The Public Records Act 2006 requires census forms to be retained. After 100 years census forms may be made available for research that meets the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act"

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  Reply # 766658 20-Feb-2013 19:48 Send private message

@nunz well done I'm sure that will satisfy a lot of people that were searching for their tin foil hats




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