The Importance of Security Assurance During a Census

Tomas Shandjemwene Mumbala

Namibia’s census project, which took place from 18 September until 3 November, represents a pivotal initiative.

A census provides crucial data for the government, organisations and researchers.

As a comprehensive population survey, its success relies on the assurance of security practices at every stage of data collection, storage and analysis.

In today’s increasingly interconnected world, where cyber threats are rampant, the need to safeguard sensitive information cannot be overstated.

It is important to highlight the significance of security assurance in the census project, emphasising the need for robust protocols to protect the privacy and integrity of collected data.

• Sensitive Information: The project collects a wide range of personal data, such as addresses, demographics and income from individuals.

This data, if compromised, could be misused to harm individuals, violate their right to privacy, or potentially jeopardise national security.

Robust security measures, including encryption, access controls, and regular vulnerability assessments, are essential to safeguard this information from unauthorised access or fraudulent activities.

•  Ensuring Data Integrity and Reliability: Without security assurance, the credibility of data collected through the census may be undermined.

Data integrity ensures that the collected information remains accurate, authentic and reliable throughout the process.

Tampering, unauthorised modifications, or the injection of false data can compromise the integrity of the dataset, misleading decision-making processes that rely on this data.

By implementing stringent data protection measures, including secure transmission channels, strict authentication protocols, and auditing mechanisms, we can ensure the data’s integrity, thereby preserving its usefulness and reliability for decision-makers.

• Building Public Trust: Another crucial aspect is establishing public trust.

Citizens are more willing to participate in a project if they have confidence that their personal information will be handled securely.

Without this trust, response rates may decline, leading to incomplete or biased data sets.

To foster trust, the project must transparently communicate its security protocols, implement safeguards to prevent data breaches, and assure the public that their privacy is being respected.

By prioritising security assurance, the census project can enhance trust and encourage broader participation.

• Legal and Ethical Concerns: Security assurance should also address legal and ethical concerns surrounding privacy, data protection and informed consent.

Governments are legally obliged to protect citizens’ information and ensure it is collected and used in compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

Moreover, ethical considerations require the project to obtain informed consent from participants and adopt practices that respect their right to privacy.

By adhering to robust security protocols, the project mitigates legal risks and can ensure that data is obtained within a framework of trust, legality and ethical accountability.

TRUST IS THE ONLY WAY

Security assurances in the case of a census project cannot be over-emphasised for multiple reasons.

Safeguarding sensitive information, ensuring data integrity and reliability, building public trust and mitigating legal and ethical concerns are essential for it to be effective.

By implementing security protocols throughout data collection, storage, and the analysis processes, the census can sustain its credibility, preserve privacy rights, and contribute to informed decision-making at both individual and societal levels.

  • Mumbala Tomas Shandjemwene is a former military police officer. He holds a bachelor of criminal justice in policing (Nust) and a post-graduate diploma in security and strategic studies (Unam).

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