Census data security called into question

The deadline to fill out the census is coming to a close this weekend and information will be stored and used by the government to help and fund services like transport, education and health.

Taking part in the census is compulsory and anyone who does not participate or supplies false information could face a fine.

However the database and security of the information has come into question. A security professor, who wished to remain anonymous, tells us: “Yes, the census isn’t new but any extra database is ludicrous. The government has proven time and time again that it can’t be trusted with a laptop, let alone the details of millions of people.

“And it’s not just the Office of National Statistics staff we have to be concerned about, with the fact that this data will be shared out with the police, MI5 and other “security” bodies all of which will be able to see the information.

“The question here is – how can they successfully transfer and share this information and how can they ensure it doesn’t leak?”

The professor added that this is just another sneaky way to keep all of our information on record and to spy on us. “There’s no doubt we’ll be hearing soon that our details have been hacked,” he said.

A spokesperson for the National Statistics told us there’s “a lot of misinformation in the media.”

He said claims that the information would be shared are – “no one gets access to the records”.

“What they do get is statistics, for example genders, by age etc,” he told TechEye.

“Any personal information is kept secret, we don’t share it with people and we have a 200 year record for keeping the census information secure,” he added.

The information is also legally restricted, with the spokesperson adding that the office is bound by law to respect individual rights to confidentiality.

When it comes to website security we were told: “Information submitted online is protected by strong encryption and identity protection. All data processing will be carried out in UK  No data will leave or be held at any point outside the UK.”

Security may be performing, according to the census spokesperson, but when we were reassured that the website wouldn’t crash – like the Tax site did when it was under pressure – we’ve had comments from readers reporting bugs.

But The National Statistics Office has said: “We weren’t aware and haven’t had any complaints.”