Internet search engines could replace the national census by providing cheap data on citizens, a government paper has suggested. The last census, which went out in 2011, missed out three-and-a-half million people but cost nearly half a billion pounds.

Under plans to cut down on census costs, labelled ‘Beyond 2011’, the government could collect data from search engines such as Google. It would be a controversial move as the company is currently facing criticism for failing to cut down on child porn, and for paying minimal taxes in the UK.

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