The census online application now accessible to Linux operating system

A notice on the Census Website indicates that, "In response to demand, Statistics Canada has removed the restriction for Linux. This change takes effect May 13th, 2006."

While this addresses those who were concerned about Linux, this does not address the most critical concerns that have been expressed.

a) The vendor dependency still exists, which is the requirement for "Java virtual machine (JVM) from Sun Microsystems Inc. (Version 1.4.2_3 or higher), Microsoft virtual machine (any version), or Apple JVM (1.4.2_5 or higher)". This is a programming language option that is not installed on and/or available for all computers. This creates a technical barrier not only for those using alternative computing platforms, but for the majority of citizens who are not technical people who could download/install additional programming languages on their computer.

Contrary to those who were refused at the first page and thought the issue was a discrimination against Linux (a platform that is as popular as the Macintosh, depending on what statistics you believe), but a government requirement of specific Java Virtual Machine implementations.

b) The software that is downloaded and executed on the persons home computer did not receive third party audit, and the government is refusing to provide the information requested via ATIP requests to allow this third party audit. While the software 'might' be secure, and the methodologies used 'might' provide additional security over standard SSL, the software could also be a 'Trojan' or 'spy ware', and the methodologies could be fundamentally flawed. The point is that we have no way to know this, and the "trust me" pronouncements of audits done by government selected auditors should never be blindly trusted.

c) This whole problem could have been trivially avoided by publicly disclosing the security methodologies and the standards used, allowing third party implementations that could then be trustworthy and trusted to be authored. This is a problem that goes far beyond the Census, and must be addressed if the government is to continue to try to move more services online.

The government should never be in the business of becoming a de-facto marketing arm of a brand of technology, something even discussed in NAFTA Chapter 10 relating to government procurement. The government should also not be encouraging citizens to blindly trust security pronouncements, whether they be from the private or public sector. Anything that claims to protect the privacy and security of a citizen should be disclosed to that citizen so that they can be assured, by an auditor of their own choice, that the software does as advertised. It should be the owner of a computer, not any third party whether government or private sector, that should be determining what software runs on their own computer.