Dodging the Census Spies

Yesterday, I discovered that Google appeared to be tracking each page of NZ’s online 2023 census form. Tomorrow, census day, I’ll be filling out my form, but with a little privacy protection in place. Here’s how you can do the same…

NoScript is a free browser add-on that blocks what’ s called “active web content” by default, and that includes trackers such as Google Analytics. It’s available for all the well-known browsers such as Firefox (desktop and mobile), Chrome, Edge, Brave, Vivaldi, Tor and many more. Download it through your browser’s extensions library, or go direct to the NoScript website and choose your browser’s base.

Once added, it should appear on your browser’s toolbar:

If it doesn’t, you may need to click on that jigsaw puzzle piece-shaped icon and pin it there.

Now go to the online census data entry page You’ll see the NoScript icon now displays a “2” above it:

That means it’s spotted two items of “active web content”. Click on the icon and you’ll see what they are:

Click the icon to mark as “Trusted” and mark as “Untrusted”:

And… you’re away. As you proceed through the census, the top of each new page with show a “1” — meaning you’ve trusted Click on the icon and you’ll continue to see Google Analytics is “Untrusted” and effectively blocked.

The big question is, why should this elaborate process be necessary to protect your privacy? If Stats NZ care about it as much as they profess, and if you can complete the census without it, what the hell is Google Analytics doing there in the first place? It’s almost as if they wanted to encourage the loony, conspiracy-seeking fringe…

As you’re filling out that form on March 7, remember it’s cost more than $50 to get it to you personally. With a budget of $259 million, that’s the effective cost to every woman, man and child in the country. For that sort of money, you might have thought Stats NZ would at least try to get it right.

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