Power to the Population? Census Policy Under Review


The population census is regarded by many as the backbone of national statistics. It is also regarded as a national institution; a data source held in high regard by the academic, policymaker, historian and genealogist alike. However, technological advances, pressure on resources and the availability of alternative information about the demography of the population have led to a recent review of the census. The results of this review have led the UK to develop a population census that in future will be conducted online and augmented by data derived from other government sources, for example health and social care records, without the need for explicit consent of the population. It is therefore an opportune time to build upon previous studies relating to privacy and the census (1) and examine the impact that these confirmed changes to the population census in the UK will have on public perceptions on the confidential nature of the census, with a particular focus on information security, privacy and ethics. This paper will discuss the results of a study examining public attitudes to an online census, information sharing between government agencies without explicit consent, and attitudes to private companies processing census data. Furthermore, the changes to the census have been made with limited input from the public leading us to question where ultimate power lies? Is it with those making the changes, or those providing information, to the census? Heeney, C., 2012. Breaching the Contract? Privacy and the UK Census. The Information Society, 28, pp.316'328.

Author Information
Lynn Killick, Edinburgh Napier University, UK
Alistair Duff, Edinburgh Napier University, UK
Mark Deakin, Edinburgh Napier University, UK
Hazel Hall, Edinburgh Napier University, UK

Paper Information
Conference: ACTIS2015

This paper is part of the ACTIS2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon