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Harper is listening… be careful

In case any of you forgot this when it was reported in May.

OTTAWA (NEWS1130) – The Harper government has been monitoring political messages online, and even correcting what it considers misinformation.

They spent 75K to track discussions about the seal hunt… one can only guess what they have spent monitoring the discussions about their latest shenanigans.

So for those of you who think that certain things a certain government department may choose to do are “intrusive”, please re-read this story, k?


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  1. Ok, yeah, I’m kind of with you on the walmart thing, sort of. Although shopping at walmart is its own punishment.

  2. And yes, I know that statscan is secure NOW. But will it be secure tomorrow? What about after the next election? What about in 10 years? 20? 40? Who can say?

    I’m sorry, but I don’t trust this generation of politicians with that kind of information.

    1. trashee says:

      My crystal ball is in the shop right now. Sorry.

  3. if the identifiers are stripped immediately, why collect them at all? The primary risks, and the major complaints people have about the long form largely evaporate if the identifying information was not collected. That would also save the stripping step and therefore cost less.

    1. trashee says:

      Tracking purposes. STC needs to know who has answered and who to follow up with. And those who do the follow up see only the fields that are not complete but labeled as “must” fields.
      I could go into more detail but – that would be the beer thing again…

  4. I do know, for example, that the question on religion was dropped between 2001 and 2006. I hadn’t seen the 2006 long form until a few days ago. I was quite pleased that the government isn’t querying religion.

    If the execrable question on race can be dropped, they’ll be far along the way to making people comfortable with the census.

    I would not be up in arms if they grabbed statistical information not associated with identifying information. One of the big beefs about the census is the tying of all that information to identifiable individuals. It’s not the information collection that is the problem, it’s the combination of the information and the fact it’s tied to individuals.

    Yes, credit and debit data can be abused in minor ways, but you don’t see governments taking debit information and using it to cleansing campaigns where they kill all the people who shop at Walmart, or imprison everyone who has an Armani suit they bought on Visa.

    On the other hand, governments have been known to kill people based on where they or their parents were born and, historically, OUR government has imprisoned people just because they looked Japanese.

  5. That kind of thing is part of the reason so many people don’t like the long form of the census.

    1. trashee says:

      Hiya Squid: In a shameless attempt to gain your vote, I found this:

      which is a pretty good listing of why STC has included certain questions on the Census.

      That being said, you made some good arguments a couple of posts ago, I just haven’t had time to respond to it (last days before vacation are always nutso). But as a general comment I would say the following:
      – there is mega-intensive testing of each and every question with focus groups (you would be great on one of these!), businesses, NGO’s… you name it. Sensitivity is something that the testers are very concerned about and if it raises the rankles of someone too much, it is changed or dropped. I’d love to have a beer sometime with you and recount some of the questions we have tested on other surveys over the years.

      – Security of responses – admittedly, no system is 100% secure 100% of the time. BUT, I can tell you that STC is pretty damned close. Again, over a beer…

      – Confidentiality of responses – identifiers are stripped immediately. Data are aggregated. Committees of peeps with PhDs in Math look over the datasets armed with programmers and slide rules… nothing gets through and no one knows who answers what and how.

      – Final point – the Census does ask the respondent’s permission to access tax data in order to reduce the burden on the respondent. Now picture how up in arms you and others (including me) if a government agency not named the CRA just went ahead and grabbed your tax or other information without asking!

      From what little I know, the data that you transfer when you go to Metro and pay by debit and swipe your Air Miles card is FAR more subject to abuses than ANYTHING collected by government.

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