Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The American Community Survey (U.S. Census)

We were selected to fill out the ACS.

From the ask.census.gov website:
Question

Do I have to respond to the American Community Survey / Puerto Rico Community Survey?


Answer

Yes. Respondents are required to answer all questions on the American Community Survey (ACS) to the best of their ability. Response to this and other Census surveys is required by law (Section 221 of Title 13, Chapter 7, United States Code). This chapter also contains information regarding offenses and possible penalties. According to Section 221, persons who do not respond shall be fined not more than $100. Title 18 U.S.C. Section 3571 and Section 3559, in effect amends Title 13 U.S.C. Section 221 by changing the fine for anyone over 18 years old who refuses or willfully neglects to complete the questionnaire or answer questions posed by census takers from a fine of not more than $100 to not more than $5,000. More information.

Your answers are very important because they represent the answers of many other similar households in your community. The data that you and others provide in response to this survey are required to manage or evaluate federal and state government programs. If you submit an incomplete form or provide data that are unclear, we may contact you by phone or in person to obtain or clarify the missing information.

The ACS is part of the Decennial Census Program. It is a survey that is sent to a small percentage of our population on a rotating basis. These data previously were collected only in census years in conjunction with the decennial census. Since the ACS is conducted every year, rather than once every ten years, it will provide more current data throughout the decade. The Census Bureau may use the information it collects only for statistical purposes. Title 13 requires the Census Bureau to keep all information about you, and all other respondents, strictly confidential. Any Census Bureau employee who violates these provisions is subject to a fine up to $250,000, a prison sentence up to five years, or both.


Let's start with this claim: "The Census Bureau may use the information it collects only for statistical purposes."

Only one proven example is necessary. I'll supply three.

While the U.S. Census Bureau claims it "may use the information it collects only for statistical purposes" the truth is that the data are used for racial and other types of profiling in times when the Government is afraid of certain groups. The data from the US Census has been used by the Government to detain, imprison, and harass citizens of the US.

When the new appointee to head the TSA, Erroll Southers, in a large, wandering answer can say that "Christian Identity groups" are a terrorist threat to the U.S. I can find reason to not want the government to be able to do profiling.

Now to the second claim: "Title 13 requires the Census Bureau to keep all information about you, and all other respondents, strictly confidential. "

This claim means that they will: 1st, never intentionally give the information about you to anyone else. 2nd, the claim means that they will safeguard the information from data theft.

Both claims are bogus:

The first part of the claim depends upon whom they trust. The above examples show that they have no problem "trusting" DHS and the Secret Service using the data against U.S. citizens when asked.

The US Census Bureau has no problem trusting Lockheed Martin Corp. with all the personal data. This article also points out that they will be gathering GPS data on the location of houses.

The Census Bureau has grown to depend upon private industry to carry out the complex survey type census. Personnel from companies like Lockheed Martin, Kodak, and SI International have direct access to personal data because they manage the computers, the networks, the scanning equipment, the databases, and the stored digital images of the census responses. Those are just a few of the "approved" corporations with access to the data.

According to the article on Lockheed some more companies with access to the data "include Cardinal Technologies Inc. of Bethesda; Computer Sciences Corp. of El Segundo, Calif.; Evolver Inc. of Reston; International Business Machines Corp. of Armonk, N.Y.; Metier Ltd. of Washington; Nortel PEC Solutions of Fairfax; and Pearson Government Solutions Inc. of Arlington."

The second part of the claim is that they can protect the data.

Well, they can't, and they haven't.
Now it's one kind of incompetence when someone steals lots of computer equipment and data from them.
So, even though they claim that we are required by law to fill out and return the survey, their actions show that the US Census Bureau is not bound by any clear interpretation of the law to "use the information it collects only for statistical purposes" or to "keep all information about you, and all other respondents, strictly confidential."

It is ironic that the cover letter sent out by the Census demonstrates that they have no intention of using the data "only for statistical purposes." The cover letter also proves they have no intention of keeping our information "strictly confidential."

The cover letter states:
This survey collects critical up-to-date information used to meet the needs of commuities across the United States. For example, results from this survey are used to decide where new schools, hospitals, and fire stations are needed. This information also helps communities plan for the kinds of emergency situations that might affect you and your neighbors, such as floods and other natural disasters.
So the "use" is not merely for "statistical purposes." The actual use is for social programs and guiding spending of Federal money and choosing which communities are more deserving of funds. The data are then, in fact, not confidential, but must be made known for such social engineering to be accomplished.

So now, what do I do. I conscientiously object to the US Census' previous misuse and planned misuse of this data. And I have a very reasonable fear that not only will my personal information be sold/compromised, but also stolen.

What am I afraid of? You need to read the American Community Survey to appreciate how intimate it is.

All the public record stuff I can understand. But the Government has that already. They already know how many people there are, when we were born, where we live, what our income is, if we have mortgages or rent, whether we collect food stamps, etc.
  • What kind of physical or mental debilities does your family have [Q 18a b c, 19]
  • Is your wife deaf or blind[ Q. 17a, 17b]?
  • Are your minor children at home during the day [Q10, 11]?
  • What kind of transportation do you use to get to work [Q. 31]?
  • Did you take anyone else with you[Q32]?
  • Exactly what time to you leave home for work each week[Q. 33]?
  • Precisely how long is your commute to and from work[Q 34]?
  • How many weeks of the year do you work [Q 38]?
  • How much time do you regularly spend at work during the week [Q 40]?
This is exactly the kind of information a thief, a child molester, and a statist want to know: Who's weak, who's young, who's vulnerable, and when you are not home.

I feel really uncomfortable telling these people this stuff so that it's all in one nice big database, ripe for the picking.

2 comments:

A Stafford said...

I heard on the radio (forgot if Beck or Hannity) that there has yet to be a single case of someone being charged for not answering the census. But-----odds are, you'd end up being the first!

madhenmom said...

I know we were able to opt out of participating in the Census Bureau's health survey. http://theblogiwouldwrite.blogspot.com/2009/07/our-valuable-health-information.html
I can't see how they can mandate you to participate.

wv: perel - You may decline to participate at your own perel