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Will Your Answers To the Census Stay Private?

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the depends-how-you-define-private dept.

Government 902

Hugh Pickens writes "James Bovard writes in the Christian Science Monitor that Americans are told that information gathered in the census will never be used against them and the House of Representatives, in a Census Awareness Month resolution passed March 3, proclaimed that 'the data obtained from the census are protected under United States privacy laws.' Unfortunately, thousands of Americans who trusted the Census Bureau in the past lost their freedom as a result. In the 1940 Census, the Census Bureau loudly assured people that their responses would be kept confidential. Within four days of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Census Bureau had produced a report listing the Japanese-American population in each county on the West Coast. The Census Bureau's report helped the US Army round up more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans for concentration camps (later renamed 'internment centers'). In 2003-04, the Census Bureau provided the Department of Homeland Security with a massive cache of information on how many Arab Americans lived in each ZIP Code around the nation, and which country they originated from — information that could have made it far easier to carry out the type of mass roundup that some conservatives advocated. 'Instead of viewing census critics as conspiracy theorists, the nation's political leaders should recognize how their policies have undermined public faith in government,' writes Bovard. 'All the census really needs to know is how many people live at each address. Citizens should refuse to answer any census question except for the number of residents.'"

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902 comments

To all the Java weenies in the crowd (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610576)

To all the Java weenies in the crowd, you have tiny penises. Even CmdrTaco's micropenis is bigger than your penis. Stop using that shitty, baby language and writing those huge, bloaty programs. Learn a real programming language like C#.

Oh yeah, and I fucked your moms in the ass last night.

first post? (5, Funny)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610596)

White Male, 30
I don't have anything to worry about right?

Re:first post? (2, Insightful)

DaHat (247651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610698)

1x American here

Re:first post? (-1, Troll)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611086)

yes, you're so clever filling in "American" instead of giving a useful response.

Since when is idiotic WHAAARRGARBL like this allowed on Slashdot? This isn't fark.com

Re:first post? (0, Troll)

Flounder (42112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610828)

American Male, 39. And that's ALL the information they are getting out of me.

Re:first post? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610884)

Thats about all the information it asks for.

Age/Name/ethnicity and where you live. It doesnt ask ANYTHING else.

Re:first post? (3, Interesting)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610830)

White Male, 30
I don't have anything to worry about right?

Depends. Are you communist, libertarian, atheist, gun-clinging fundamentalist Christian, or Irish?

Re:first post? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31611074)

Depends. Are you communist, libertarian, atheist, gun-clinging fundamentalist Christian, or Irish?

Translated: Are you a communist, libertarian, atheist, evolutionist, intellectual, or are you an AMERICAN(tm)(c)(r)? Or Irish?

Re:first post? (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610932)

You also have to report if you are a slave, so they can compare current to historical personhood.
If you are a slave, just mark the "Slave" checkbox.

Re:first post? (4, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610978)

I think the submitter is worrying about the wrong thing.

The answers could have remained private (as in remained within the Government), but the Japanese-Americans still rounded up.

It's not great comfort when the general public, criminals and Corporations don't have access to your census info, but the Government still kicks in your door at 3am and bundles you away just because you happened to have filled in the "race" field with the "wrong race of the day".

Race: Pikes Peak Hill Climb :).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exdUD02JryI [youtube.com]

Re:first post? (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611090)

White Male, 30
I don't have anything to worry about right?

If you've got a beard, you're still on the "extra questions and special search before boarding every flight" list. Just like me, a white male over 50. Maybe they'll start adding questions on facial hair to the census as well, just for statistical purposes, of course...

I agree (4, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610606)

And the fact that Glenn Beck has said the same thing makes me feel dirty. Ugh.

Re:I agree (4, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610818)

Same here. But he said not to answer the race question because liberals value minority lives over white lives.

Re:I agree (1)

mrigney (908052) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610858)

According to TFA: "James Bovard, who worked as a census taker in 1980, is ... a policy adviser to the Future of Freedom Foundation."

From the FFF website [fff.org] : "for well over a century, the American people said "No" to such anti-free-market government policies as income taxation, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, immigration controls, economic regulations, drug laws, gun control, public schooling, and foreign wars...The time has come for us to reevaluate our relationship to our government — to repeal, not reform, these immoral and destructive government programs"

None of that changes the facts of this matter, but like you, I'm not very happy about the company I'm keeping right now.

I've got it! (2, Interesting)

wytcld (179112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611084)

Since we're facing a real possibility of insurrection from the tea party secessionists, let's encourage them to refuse to answer the ethnicity question on the census. Then we can do a sort for all those who've failed to answer that question, and march 'em to the FEMA camps!

Is Beck a double agent?

Those that make the laws... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610608)

...don't seem to be subject to the laws themselves.

So the answer is they can do whatever they want.

Re:Those that make the laws... (-1, Flamebait)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610678)

I despise this website, but I COMPLETELY agree with this proposed amendment:

"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators or Representatives, and Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States."

http://arkansasgopwing.blogspot.com/2009/11/amendment-28-proposed-by-citizens-of.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Those that make the laws... (4, Funny)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610780)

Hey, would that mean every time they vote themselves another raise I get one too? Sign me up!

Re:Those that make the laws... (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610820)

I despise this website, but I COMPLETELY agree with this proposed amendment:

"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators or Representatives, and Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States."

http://arkansasgopwing.blogspot.com/2009/11/amendment-28-proposed-by-citizens-of.html [blogspot.com]

That's pointless.

They would claim they apply equally, you just choose to subject yourselves to the more invasive treatment by choosing to fly Commercial instead of picking a private charter.

Re:Those that make the laws... (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610838)

"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators or Representatives, and Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States."

Huhhh? Laws kind of already do this. Silly Arkansas people.

Re:Those that make the laws... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31611026)

That would mean Representatives and Senators would be subject to arrest on their way to voting.

I'm sure THAT would NEVER be abused. EVER.

You know what's really sad? (5, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610618)

I no longer expect any privacy from my government. I want it, and I think it's fucked up that I don't have it...but I no longer expect it.

What the hell has happend to us as a country? Has it always been this fucked and we just have the means to know about it now? Or were things truly better back int he day?

Re:You know what's really sad? (5, Insightful)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610938)

Has it always been this fucked and we just have the means to know about it now? Or were things truly better back int he day?

Yes. Yes it has. As have all countries, everywhere, since the dawn of man. The only real difference now is information flows faster than ever before in history. So the general populace is aware of all the f'ed up stuff much, much faster. In the past it could take months, if not years or even decades, for this information to reach the ears of the people.

Re:You know what's really sad? (5, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610958)

I agree. I think we actually had more privacy in the past only from a practical point of view. Before computers, and back when the government couldn't afford massive buildings full of employees, it was simply impossible or impractical to gather much data to be used against us. Today you can have one guy in the CIA decide to gather/analyze data and have thousands of people immediately help.

So I think privacy rules have gotten stronger, but technology and government size have made privacy weaker.

Re:You know what's really sad? (2, Insightful)

LBDobbs (555102) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611002)

The US government is more careful about "privacy" now than it has ever been. It is the American culture that has radically changed. Withholding information from the government is a relatively new phenomenon in the US. The "right of privacy" was established by the Warren Court (one of the many very bad decisions that court made). And the American People have demanded more and more of it. Keeping some information private from corporations (like insurance companies) is self defense, but the government is really not the enemy.

There are no other questions (5, Informative)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610632)

I got the census papers. Besides the obvious: what's your name, race and address there are no other questions. I can lie about race if I wanted to because it's saying which race you consider yourself to be part of. I'm not a US citizen, yet I consider myself part of one of the races on the list. If you're afraid you're going to be corralled up, you could do the same thing, say you are "Other" or whatever is closest to your skin color (African-American/Negro (yes that's one of the options on there) for anyone not-white and not-native american)

All other questions (SSN, birth date, birth place) are not part of the census so if anyone asks they are not acting on behalf of the census office.

Re:There are no other questions (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610694)

Human is a race. Write that in.

Re:There are no other questions (4, Insightful)

Enry (630) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610782)

Human is a species.

Re:There are no other questions (3, Funny)

demigod (20497) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610784)

Human is a race. Write that in.

What if I'm only humanoid.

Re:There are no other questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610804)

Race: Indy 500

Re:There are no other questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610854)

Wait until you receive the follow-up American Community Survey, which you are also obligated to fill out. That's the one with the intrusive questions.

Re:There are no other questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610872)

Birth date is one of the questions.
And yes, I'm a supervisor for the census.

Re:There are no other questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610960)

I can lie about race if I wanted to because it's saying which race you consider yourself to be part of.

Problem is, you shouldn't have to lie about your race.
It shouldn't even be a question (or it should be optional).

Congress was never given the power to demand race information.
Just the number of people (including slaves (gotta love the south)) to determine the number of seats in congress for the state. [wikipedia.org]

Seems like Congress has gotten full of itself with power again, first by being able to demand information and then by asking questions irrelevant to its duties.
If I don't want to participate in the Census, I should not be required to. All it does is reduce my state's voting power.
So it's kind of like being required to vote.

Birthdate IS one of the questions (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31611034)

Question 7 http://2010.census.gov/2010census/how/interactive-form.php

Re:There are no other questions (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611068)

There are two forms of the census, the short form and the long form. Sounds like you got the short form. A random sample of addresses receive the long form instead of the short form. It asks a lot more detailed questions.

Did you catch The Daily Show and Colbert Report? (1)

BenFenner (981342) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610646)

I don't care how many times pundits from the Census Bureau muck it up with our lord Jon and savior Steven they aren't going to convince me to answer 10 questions on a census. There is only one question I will answer on that stupid form, and if that lumps me in with the "evil" conservatives, so be it.

Only Box the Census Taker Will Check For Me is... (2, Funny)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610652)

[ x ] Gun Owner.

If he's smart enough and fast enough.

Re:Only Box the Census Taker Will Check For Me is. (3, Funny)

Drethon (1445051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611010)

So if he is too slow then what, the central office will report ths? [ x ] Gun user.

Re:Only Box the Census Taker Will Check For Me is. (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611030)

Yea, take that mailman! Oh shit, Wait! Drop the netflix envelope before you run away! And comeback for it tomorrow!!

Will census data stay private? (4, Interesting)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610654)

The real question is, does it matter? Ok, so census data is kept secure. What about every other form you've filled out that asks the same questions, or similar questions. Or just plain ol Google datamining?

What difference does it make if this data over here is locked up tight when this same data over here is plastered all over the interwebs?

Re:Will census data stay private? (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610812)

Well, I think the census probably collect more information about you than these other forms.

Re:Will census data stay private? (2, Insightful)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610886)

No it doesnt. An application for your local grocery customer loyalty program usually asks more questions. Even the registration form for most home appliances asks for more.

Re:Will census data stay private? (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610966)

Why would you register your home appliances? Or is this some wacky legal loophole where companies can nix your warranty if you don't register? (Serious question, US consumer rights often seem completely insane and backwards to me).

Re:Will census data stay private? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31611078)

In some states you even have to provide the initial bill of sale.

Re:Will census data stay private? (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611032)

Are you kidding? Every credit card app I've ever filled out asked more invasive questions like how much I make annually, my SSN, and my work and address history. Hell, activating my Google adsense account asked more questions.

Re:Will census data stay private? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610952)

Time and effort to check a prepopulated standardised database? Minimal.

Time and effort required to connect dozens of different databases and write programs capable of compiling information from web searches? More than a government can manage.

If data is readily available, it will be used and abused, no matter what anybody says.

Christian Science Monitor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610656)

Yeah, what a surprise, having the opposition resist anything the other party does.

Sure it could happen... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610664)

Of course the government could abuse that information, but what is the record like? Besides 1940, are there any other situations where the data was used to locate an individual? The 2003 situation mentioned is not an abuse. Providing demographic information is standard operating procedure for the Census Bureau, and a lot of good can be done with that information.

So if 1940 is the only case of census information being used to locate individuals, I'd say their record is pretty good.

...and it did. (2, Insightful)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610874)

So if 1940 is the only case of census information being used to locate individuals, I'd say their record is pretty good.

1940 is a case where census information was used to round up an entire ethnic population and relocate them and strip them of all belongings despite assurances that census information would remain "private", which I'd say pretty much destroys any credibility of such assurances forever.

Of all the people counted by the Census over the last century (not including re-counts of same people), that's a pretty intolerable percentage of lives wrecked by abuse of Census data over the last century.

"Stroke of a pen, law of the land. Pretty cool."
"Power corrupts, absolute power is kind of neat."
- people who actually had such power.

Re:...and it did. (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610992)

I'm pretty sure AC's comment boils down to "as long as it's them, the Feds can round them up all they want."

Re:...and it did. (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611036)

The current protections came AFTER the war was over, did they not?

Compare and contrast these "concentration camps" w (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610672)

Compare and contrast these "concentration camps" with the Nazi version of "concentration camps".

Germans were soundly rounded up as well. I think the Italians got a free ride in WWII, and God only knows where the Irish were sent. Dubuque, I heard.

"Bad" vs. "worse" (2, Interesting)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610918)

Compare and contrast these "concentration camps" with the Nazi version of "concentration camps".

Ah, so we're to compare and contrast "stripped of all worldly possessions and incarcerated for no wrongdoing whatsoever", vs. "stripped of all worldly possessions and incarcerated for no wrongdoing whatsoever, plus torture & death". OK, so one is bad and the other is worse - that does not relieve the former of being bad.

Re:Compare and contrast these "concentration camps (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610944)

German immigrants weren't rounded up during WWII, you would have had to have locked 3/4 people in Wisconsin into camps if you wanted to do that. Incidentally, German POW's were sent to Wisconsin so that they would 'feel at home' during their war time imprisonment and not want to harm the nearby population. And the funny part is that it worked, supposedly the prisoners would sneak out at night and go to barn dances... only to sneak back in the morning because they just didn't have anywhere else to go.

Just the number of residents? (5, Informative)

Thinine (869482) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610682)

Perhaps in 1790 that's all the census needed to know (that and how may slaves you owned), but it's a far different situation now. Socioeconomic and ethnic data is important in determining the types of services various areas need and plays an important part in know just who an "American" really is. As an aside, the census had nothing to do with the Japanese internment during WWII. At most it made calculating the number of Japanese-Americans easier, allowing the round up to be more accurate. Maybe. Given how easy it is to separate people by obvious ethnic ancestry, the round up would have occurred any way. Besides which, it's not as if either of scenarios mentioned in the OP actually provided anything more than numbers. They didn't provide addresses, names, or any actual personal information. Merely the number who marked a certain ethnicity in a certain county. So yes, these people are still just paranoid.

Re:Just the number of residents? (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610732)

Perhaps in 1790 that's all the census needed to know (that and how may slaves you owned), but it's a far different situation now.

Then amend the constitution to empower the government to collect more than an enumeration.

Re:Just the number of residents? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610774)

I'm white, but i'll see myself as Hispanic or african-american and record that on the census then, recognize a lower income etc, and anon encourage all the people living in my state to do the same.

That way we'll get more funding right? Since there will be more "lower income" families in the area, and they'll all be minorities (on paper).

Not that i'm about to do it... but just a thought....

Re:Just the number of residents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31611022)

"Wow, we saw a surge in the African American population all over the country! Either whites are now the minority, or someone's messing with us. But nobody would lie on the form, so it must be true! Quick, reverse affirmative action!"...

Re:Just the number of residents? (3, Interesting)

berashith (222128) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610826)

Actually, even Jefferson in the first ever census saw the value in obtaining extra information. He pushed for more than just number of people, although that was the doctrine provided by the constitution. Were his motives pure evil? I doubt it. Government has reasons for what it does, which often conflict with the citizens best interest ( real or perceived ) and has always pushed the limits on every process that has been available, even the super-freedom-loving-and-creating-founding-fathers.

I gave them my address and number of residents.

Re:Just the number of residents? (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611014)

From TFA:
In 2007, a study by those researchers, William Seltzer of Fordham University and Margo Anderson of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, proved that the Census Bureau gave the Secret Service the names and addresses of all persons of Japanese ancestry in the Washington, D.C., area during World War II. The bureau responded by insisting that this was ancient history. While the disclosure may have been dated, the bureau's deceit lasted for more than 60 years and undermines its credibility. And we do not know how many other census confidentiality violations have yet to surface.

Private or "bad"? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610692)

Hold on. There are two different things here: whether the data will be kept private, and whether the data will ever be used to do "bad" things.

The headline brings up the question of whether privacy will be breached: i.e. whether the census data could ever be de-anonymized and used to identify specific people's answers. This would be a very bad thing, contrary to the ethos of the census.

However, the examples actually given in the summary are cases where the census was just doing what a census does: delivering anonymized demographic data. Specifying how many people of a particular race (or gender, or income level, etc.) live in a particular area is just data. That data can of course be used for either good (addressing social inequality, correctly distributing resources, etc.) or for evil (internment camps). But the fact that data can be used for evil is nothing new. The solution is not to distrust the census, but rather to stop the people who are promoting hateful options and politicians pushing for evil legislation.

I'm not saying that we have to trust the census people, necessarily. If the data is continually doing more harm than good, then we should oppose its collection. But I don't think that you can point to a few examples of data being used in evil ways (or potentially evil ways) and therefore conclude that the entire enterprise of data collection is suspect.

Bullshit (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610714)

What bullshit. The privacy protections regarding census answers were put in place AFTER the Japanese internment camps as a RESPONSE. This summary reads as is those protections were disregarded in that roundup, and then darkly speculates on what could have been after 9/11, if those privacy protections had been disregarded.

Slashdot isn't far from freerepublic these days, in political leaning or critical thinking.

Mod Parent Up (1)

chebucto (992517) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611062)

The privacy protections regarding census answers were put in place AFTER the Japanese internment camps as a RESPONSE.

Somehow, that sounds much more likely to be true than the frankly shocking allegation in the summary. And, as others have pointed out, the insinuation that something untoward happened with regard to Arabs after 9/11 is also bunk - no private date was released, and releasing aggregate data is what the census is for.

Just don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610716)

I didn't answer the census in 2000, won't do it this year.

AC for obvious reasons.

Re:Just don't. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31611016)

Thats ok. We know where AC posted from anyways. We are still watching you.

With Love
          Your government

PS Ignore the pizza van that has been down the street for a few days

this and other meaningful questions (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610718)

Will your answer to the census stay private?
Will your health-care premium grow extensively and will the new 'reform' get blamed for it?
Will the people make assumptions about you based on your 'political association'?
Will the corporate interest together with the government involvement ensure that the economy finally ends in a total collapse?

Stay tuned to get the answer to these, and other meaningful questions.

a bit extreme... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610738)

"All the census really needs to know is how many people live at each address. Citizens should refuse to answer any census question except for the number of residents."

yeah, send me that info too, so i can send you the appropriate amount of tin foil hats...

roll dice or flip a coin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610740)

The proper way to do it is to roll a die or flip a coin. If the coin shows "heads" then tell the truth to the question, if the coin is "tails" then lie
Statistically, if everyone were to do this, the results will still be valid, just skewed in a predicatable way

Aggregate data = No privacy (4, Informative)

crow (16139) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610742)

They say that they won't release your information for something like 85 years, but they do release aggregate data. In the 2000 census, there were complaints that it was possible to determine individual answers from the aggregate data because they were releasing data for very small areas. I think it was by Zip+4, which narrows typically narrows it down to fewer than ten houses.

For me, I'm not concerned about the privacy, but I take offense at being asked to identify as being of a specific race. Whatever happened to the Great American Melting Pot?

Re:Aggregate data = No privacy (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610936)

Whatever happened to the Great American Melting Pot?

It called the kettle the N word. But it's okay, because the Pot is black too.

Re:Aggregate data = No privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610990)

Check the other box and write in "American" race shouldn't matter at all these days.

Ridiculous (5, Insightful)

DIplomatic (1759914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610748)

Refusing to fill out the Census is ridiculous. It is in your own best interest to let the local and national govt. know as much about the people they represent as possible. If they don't know facts about, say, the social and financial background of their constituents, how can they govern effectively?

To give a hypothetical example, it would be like if you were a neilsen family but refused to fill out info about the tv shows that you liked and then complained when they got canceled.

Answers to the Census are protected by Title 13 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610756)

Check out:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_13_of_the_United_States_Code

The Census Bureau collects information and creates statistics. The actual answers are hands off.

Title 13 was not around in 1940.

Giving the security agencies statistical information about a particular group of people is no big deal. The information was probably out there already and public.

Obligatory (3, Insightful)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610758)

Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.
-Ayn Rand

What does this say about America? Read this [huffingtonpost.com] for a good overview of technology's intertwined relationship with the failings of geopolitical advancement of privacy. Basic summary: it isn't technologies fault for privacy lost, its the people who regulate it.

To quote:
"The attacks of 9-11 challenged our country in new ways. But perhaps the biggest challenge was whether we would safeguard both our country and our Constitutional heritage or whether we would have weak leaders who were unable to protect the country without sacrificing our freedoms. Regrettably, we found that our political leaders lacked the ability to uphold our laws. For electronic surveillance, they pushed aside the judiciary and asserted the President's authority to intercept the private communications of American citizens within the United States. Even with the broad powers of the Patriot Act, the White House grew impatient and colluded with the telephone companies to disclose private customer records without legal basis or judicial review."

I exist (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610762)

Chalk me up for another person who just listed:

3 Americans live here.

Re:I exist (1)

EvilXenu (706326) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610842)

Similarly, I answered only question #1... just like I did back in 2000 when I got the "long" form. After which point, I was 'harassed' on a weekly basis by census workers that wanted me to divulge more information than I felt the US Constitution required I provide.

We'll see what happens this year.

Not to defend the US government... (4, Informative)

Enry (630) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610764)

But:

1) Saying that census data will 'never be used against you' and 'are protected by US privacy laws' is nowhere near the same thing.
2) The NY Times article about Arab Americans in each ZIP code was using publicly available data from the census. As with medical records, the data used by DHS was deidentified.

So in the end, I have faith that the answers I give will stay private, though I understand that information that identify me as a community will be available - that's one of the points of the census!

I only answered the first question (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610794)

And I suggest that you do the same.

Who advocated rounding up the arab population? (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610800)

"Conservatives" wanted to round up arabs? Do you have a single shred of proof for this or are you basically a Truther or Birther at heart, with nothing but paranoia to offer us?

No-one wanted to "round up arabs" since that would have been stupid and done nothing.

Re:Who advocated rounding up the arab population? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31611042)

You didn't read Ann Coulter's op-eds on the week of Sep 11 did you?

Re:Who advocated rounding up the arab population? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31611094)

[...] that would have been stupid and done nothing.

You must be new to politics.

My privacy won't be violated (3, Interesting)

swillden (191260) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610834)

I didn't give them any information to leak or misuse. The constitutional purpose of the census is to count people, not to figure out who rents vs. who owns their homes, or what their age/race distribution is. So that's what I gave them. A complete and accurate count of the people living in my home.

Per Title 13, they could fine me $100 for failing to complete the form. I don't think that'll happen, but it's worth $100 to me to stand on the principle.

Re:My privacy won't be violated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31611040)

But they assured me that my answers (or non-answers) on the Census could not be used against me. I left off phone number, race, and are you a hispanic.

> Per Title 13, they could fine me $100 for failing to complete the form. I don't think that'll happen, but it's worth $100 to me to stand on the principle.

Meaningful Action (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610860)

I did not hear about the data being handed over to the Department of Homeland defense, but I do know a bit about the Census Bureau. Federal law prohibits all employees of the Census Bureau from releasing this data. So if the government wants to restore my faith in it and set a good precedent to prevent future abuse, arrest everyone involved in the 2003-2004 data breach, convict them and send them to prison for 5 years.

True but ignores later laws (2, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610868)

It is true that during WWII, the US government abused Census information to detain Japanese.

But the thing about America is that we FIX problems when we realize that we made a mistake.

After World War II, American realized what a horrible thing we did with the Census and we changed the laws.

Now, it is illegal for information from the Census to be given to any other government agency. Specifically:

Immigration is NOT allowed to get the information.

The Internal Revenue Service is NOT allowed to get the information.

FBI and local cops are NOT allowed to get the information.

I myself am always a bit paranoid about giving out information, but the promisses the US government has given are about as extreme as it is possible to get. It is true that governments can ignore their own laws. But if you won't trust the US government after it wewnt that far to fix the problem you are worried about, then you should leave this country.

Because if you are concerned about them rounding you up in the future after they change the laws, then you should be more concerned about them rounding you up TODAY for failing to obey the existing laws

umm (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610882)

In 2003-04, the Census Bureau provided the Department of Homeland Security with a massive cache of information on how many Arab Americans lived in each ZIP Code around the nation, and which country they originated from

The Census Bureau provides information on how many Arab Americans live in each zip code to everyone. Go to the census website.

Census Info Ultimately Becomes Public (2, Interesting)

coolmoose25 (1057210) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610892)

Census data always becomes public... According to this [census.gov] census data becomes public after 72 years. This is an invaluable resource to those tracing their genealogy. I will be filling out my form fully, but then I'm not an illegal immigrant or a terrorist. I could see why someone in those groups would not want to fill it out. But filling them out provides valuable data today for all kinds of things, from predicting how many students will enroll in your public schools to how many representatives you'll have in local, state, and federal elections.

The census isn't just about counting (2, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610904)

I understand privacy concerns, but I also understand the valuable ways this information is used. Things like trying to figure out the best place to locate infrastructure like schools and VA hospitals. I remember this "debate" from 10 years ago. Now, while you're passively rebelling against your evil government think about what answers you choose to omit from the census and how easily available that info already is.

For crying out loud... (2, Insightful)

Petersko (564140) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610908)

"The data, from the 2000 census, had already been made public on the agency's Internet site...But the Census Bureau director acknowledged at the meeting that by tabulating and handing over the data...the agency had undermined public trust..."

So let me get this straight. The data was publicly available, and the Bureau was getting in heat for... sorting it?

A six year old story about an eight year old NOTHING.

I routinely waste five minutes of time, but this block I particularly regret.

Race as American (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610910)

Not answering the race question is likely to lead to a visit by census staff and your refusal to play their game will come to naught. You'll be marked in their records as a troublemaker and your race determined by a census worker. There's a lot of pressure on them to generate the required data. A much simpler approach is to check your race as Other and in the blank fill in "American." It's true, and it foils attempts to label us racially for whatever the purpose. Keep in mind that this census is, contrary to what the Constitution specifies, very much about race. About six months ago a census worker visited my apartment wanting to know if any Native Americans lived there. He was a nice, elderly gentleman who didn't have any political agendas himself. But it was clear that, if that were true, my living circumstances would have been singled out for special examination.

Genealogy (2, Insightful)

turb (5673) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610912)

Census data is akin to medical records. You want your person information to remain confidential generally speaking but aggregated together, it's not hard to argue that such data could be used to benefit research and therefore benefit mankind. However confidentiality to one's family is probably less important. For example if your family has a history of heart conditions, you'd rather like to know that, even if Grandpa so and so never told you.

Having access to census data when trying to even research your family tree is critical. While genealogy isn't as much of a benefit to mankind as medicine, it at least means something to me at a personal level. I'm very very glad that old census records are available.

I completely agree that census data just like medical records is open to abuse. Profiling of any race is just plain wrong and the government should never have allowed that and those that did it should have been caught and prosecuted.

Pity smitty likes to ruffle feathers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31610914)

Hey submitter... next time do some research before you go spreading FUD. The 1947 privacy sections of Title 13 was specifically enacted to prevent what happened in WWII. ( or to "close the back door" if you will ) .
Lets remember folks... plenty of Chinese people were interned as well in the Japanese camps. Doesn't make it right, but it shows that people are goingto be racist regardless of whether a database gives them the zip code or not.

Sometimes your census data is used for good... (5, Insightful)

someones1 (1580023) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610934)

As an urban planner, I can say in all honesty that eliminating things like race from the census would be devastating to research processes. There is a lot of super valuable information in the census data when it comes to identifying trends and demographics, and types of services required for certain types of residents, etc. It is terrible that personally identifiable census data has been used in the past to round people up, or create "watch" lists of sorts, but understand that many many other groups and agencies use non-personally identifiable information gained from the census forms to actually do some good for communities. A ridiculous amount of stuff that urban planners do in GIS is with census data, and without it, or with significant amounts of errors, it becomes useless and entirely possible that planning decisions will be made with bad information.

Why birth date? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31610988)

Why does the census need to know birth date? Not just the year, but also month and day? That struck me as really odd and unnecessary.

Sounds like aggregated data, not individual (1)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611000)

It's not entirely clear, but the wording makes it sound like they got a listing of "this many 'Arabic-Americans' in THIS zip code, this many in THAT zip code" (etc.) rather than "Joe al-Schmoe at 123 ProfileMe Lane is one of THEM!". Not really much different than is available to the public from the census bureau, is it?

Birthday greetings from the census bureau? (1)

SlashD0tter (1748438) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611024)

That must be the legitimate reason that the census asks for the month, day, and year of resident's birthday, correct?

"Protected by law" (2, Insightful)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611058)

And remember this when they say the information is "protected by law": Laws can be changed. (Yeah, I know that sounds obvious, but how many foolish people are assuaged by being told "don't worry, your privacy is protected by law.") They're just words on paper, the government changes them all the time, and most of the time it just breaks them without even bothering to change them.

Want to protect your privacy? Don't share information. Once it's out there, it's out there.

I think the Census Bureau is fibbing (2, Insightful)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611070)

In the instructions with the census form it says that the information on the form cannot be used in a court of law. However, at the same time it says that completing the form is required by law.

So the obvious question is, if the form cannot be used as evidence, how can they prove that I did not complete it?

Either the law is not enforceable, or they are lying when they say it cannot be used as evidence.

Odd definition of private (0, Troll)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 4 years ago | (#31611072)

The whole point is to get pictures of various populations and how they're distributed. TFA is basically saying "They promise it's private but then they announce the US population. How did they count them if they are private!!!!!" These nutjobs think that privacy means as soon as they get your form they put it in a shredder. They're trying to imply that having an estimate on the number of arabs in a given area is the same thing as having each of their addresses on file and ready to go, like they had in WW2. It's also hilarious that all of the "Swear allegiance to the flag, the Federal Government uber alles! Anybody who questions the government deserves death, hang them high, you are a traitor if you question!" have made an instantaneous 180 and are now screaming "Resist, the government is the ultimate evil, don't pay taxes, don't fill out forms, shoot to kill!" FOX news pundits are even saying they hope and pray there's another 9/11 scale terrorist attack to give them an excuse to "eliminate" Obama. After all, he made America unsafe by "brutally neutering" the military by making a "dramatic cut" to the defense budget by increasing by not as much as they wanted. While they simultaniously decry him for being a big budget liberal by increasing military spending...
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