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Bureau of Statistics hides trade data about monitors. Yes, monitors!

Help us out here readers: why is it useful to hide data on which States import monitors?

By Simon Sharwood, 12 Oct 2016

The Australian Bureau of Statistics' Confidential Commodities List has gain turned up something odd, this time in the form of restrictions on reporting of trade in “Colour video monitors (excl. cathode-ray tube monitors), whether or not incorporating radio-broadcast receivers”.

As we've reported previously, the Confidential Commodities List makes it possible to conceal trade data when exposing it could offer hints about a transaction that could represent commercial intelligence or distort a market. The August 2015 Confidential Commodities List, for example, excised networking kit. Which could be just the sort of thing a large networking vendor or network operator could request to hide a big build or the price paid for a stack of kit. Think Cisco or Huawei not wanting the other to know the value of a deal as it lands on the docks. The August 2016 Confidential Commodities List removed server data, which we speculated could hide a big cloud concern's buying patterns. Or perhaps a spooky cluster construction project of some sort.

We'll never know because applicants request restrictions on trade data through a confidential process: the Bureau of Statistics won't ever divulge who requested data be fuzzed, or why.

On this occasion, monitor data has been stripped of “State Details” so import/export data will only be stripped of information on screens' destination. The only reason The Register can imagine for this restriction is a retailer trying to hide evidence of where it will open new stores. But as our coverage of data centre startup Airtrunk showed, big developments leave a paper trail it's not hard to follow. So help us out here, people – why would someone hide screen sales?

Oh and while we're here, trade data on “Automatic data processing machines, weighing 10 kg or more and presented in the form of systems, (excl. personal computers and machines comprising in the same housing at least a central processing unit and input and output unit)” has again been crimped for September 2016. ®

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