ABS response to articles about potential vulnerability in ABS TableBuilder tool

No one’s privacy has ever been compromised through the use of the ABS TableBuilder tool.

ABS TableBuilder tool is a sophisticated world-leading statistical tool that allows Census data users to construct aggregated information, while simultaneously preserving the privacy of individuals and households.

All information on TableBuilder is confidentialised, it does not include name and address information.

The ABS regularly tests and updates the protections of ABS TableBuilder, to ensure the adequacy of the privacy protections.

Since early 2017, the ABS has been working with Dr Dali Kaafar and his co-researchers on safe ways to create aggregated information for Census users. As part of their research, they constructed a very elaborate and obscure attack scenario. The researchers brought this theoretical risk to the attention of the ABS and we have worked with them to address it. The ABS has since then put in place measures to mitigate this potential vulnerability suggested by the researchers.

Had such a scenario happened, the ABS would have detected unusual activity before privacy was compromised.

The ABS continues to be vigilant in its commitment to protect individuals’ privacy. The ABS recognises that data analytics techniques are constantly evolving and is on the front foot in identifying and addressing any emerging risks to the data we hold. We have been working, and will continue to work, with leading experts to ensure we are using the best approaches possible to protect individuals' data.