TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Canadian Census Going Online

Canadian Census Going Online

Stefanie Kranjec (
Mon, 1 May 2006 22:20:23 -0500

By Stefanie Kranjec

Canada is joining a small club of countries that is bringing the
census into the Internet age, and aims to have 20 percent of
respondents fill out their surveys online this year.

Paper census forms that try to track the habits, backgrounds and
movements of Canada's 32 million people will arrive at households in
the mail this week, and with them will be a special Internet access

"What (the code) allows you to do is go to the Web site where the
system checks if your computer has the necessary security
requirements," Canadian census director general Anil Arora said on

"It's possible that with some older browsers, a machine may not have
the level of security that we would like," he said. "The level of
priority we place on confidentiality, on security, is pretty high,
pretty impressive."

The Internet initiative puts Canada in a small group of countries that
have attempted to conduct a national census online. Among them, New
Zealand and Switzerland have been successful, with about 30 percent of
the Swiss population opting to fill in the questionnaire on the

Statistics Canada, the government agency that conducts a national
census every five years, says that its census Web site is "10 times
more secure than the average Internet banking site."

Anne-Marie Hayden, spokeswoman for the Privacy Commissioner of Canada,
said the system meets her agency's standards. "We didn't come across
anything that would pose a threat to privacy."

The online census will be backed up by three call centers, as well as
about 27,000 enumerators, who scour the country to make sure as many
people as possible respond.

Canada's Statistics Act prohibits anyone from refusing to take part in
the census. Those who do not comply may be charged C$500 ($450) or
face up to three months in jail.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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