T Nation

The New Census


An All-Out Assault On Your Privacy

 The federal government has quietly begun using an incredibly intrusive new census form called "The American Community Survey." Up to 1 million households a year will receive this form.

 This new "census" form is 24-pages long, and demands that you lay bare every detail of your life, including how much you earn, what your home is worth, details of your health, when you leave for work, previous addresses, pregnancies, monies received from government, and on and on.

 I say demand because you can be fined up to $1,000 for each of the 72 questions you don�t answer or which you answer "incorrectly." However, so far no one has been fined for not answering, nor are they likely to be if public resistance is strong.

 The ways the government could use this information to harm you are mind-boggling. For instance, any financial discrepancy with IRS or Social Security records could result in your criminal prosecution. Knowing when you leave for work could enable police, acting under the Patriot Act, to secretly enter your home.

 The American Community Survey also demands that you to report on the activities of relatives, employers and roommates. Joseph Stalin could hardly ask for more surveillance powers. You can download the survey at www.census.gov/acs/www/

 Article I of the Constitution allows the government to conduct a count of the American people once every ten years to determine voting districts. Nothing in the Constitution gives government the power to continuously spy on the people or probe every intimate detail of their lives.

 As Congressman Ron Paul observes, questions on the American Community Survey are "both ludicrous and insulting," and this information is simply none of the government's business. I fervently hope that millions of Americans will burn their forms or accidentally lose them.


Assuming an average household of 4 individuals and a population of 300 millions, that means that less than 2% of citizens will be polled.

Verification of "incorrect answers" is extremely difficult to do. Unless you've given the same information elsewhere, such as salary with the IRS, there's really no way to verify the info, unless they hire an investigator to do actual surveillance of your activities.

If you're cheating on your taxes, hopefully you're smart enough to "cheat" on the survey too. If not, well, you won't be the first dumb criminal in prison.

If the police wishes to enter your home, it doesn't take much surveillance to determine when you're not there.

A large portion of the public works 9 to 5, so showing up at noon on a weekday is a rather safe bet, survey or not.

We've had a similar survey in Canada (without the financial penalties for not complying), and the rationale for such an extensive survey was to gather data to better allocate funds for roads, social services, cultural grants and so on.

I'm not saying that I'm a fan of government surveys, but the information can be used for worthwhile causes just as well as nefarious ones. To simply assume the worst is not reasonable.

People often complain of bad government spending, or of incompetent allocation of funds. If the government tries to gather more information to better allocate then funds and offer better adapted services by demographics, people then complain about privacy issues.


In the year since this article was written, is there any new news on it?


In between the other 'news' about scott peterson, kobe bryant, and random kidnappings on the national news?
You mean did that news report anything on it?


I agree with you here!

It is amazing what elite big government will do when it runs amuck!