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SELECT noprivacy FROM census, socialsecurity, irs 169

"The Congressional Budget Office, with the surprising help of some Congressional Republicans, is angling to get its hands on Census Bureau files," reports the New York Times today (free reg. req.). Here's the interesting thing. A staffer for Rep. Dan Miller (R-Fla.) told the NYT that there is no problem with doing a little cross-correlating of your census, Social Security, and IRS files: "The Census Bureau is the government, and Congress is the government." Last April, that same Dan Miller was blaming the Clinton adminstration for making the American people distrust their government through mishandling of sensitive files.
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SELECT noprivacy FROM census, socialsecurity, irs

Comments Filter:
  • "double standards"?
  • ... it makes me glad that I was moving while they took the census, so they hadn't got to the area yet where I came from, and had already did the area that I moved to... If they would like to come back and talk to me, they may, but I'll wait for them.
  • Aren't your IRS and Social Security files cross-corellated already?? I mean, they're both owned by the Federal Government, and you do put your social security number on your tax forms...
  • never seen an SQL statement as a headline. good job!
  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @10:10AM (#679119) Homepage
    Can we at least get the same information and correlations for all officers of the government posted online? After all, if they think it's fine to correlate and snoop on us, it must be okay for use to correlate and snoop on them.

    Or they could have kept their promise not to hand out the census data. Yeah. Right.



    ________________________________________
  • I'm not... The government does at it sees fit with little to no reaction from the populace, becuase the sheep out there think that their elected representatives know best.

    But I'm not bitter...
  • There is a cross-corolation key, but as far as I know there has been no public knowledge of the databases being jointly mined. Not to say that it doesn't happen, but it isn't supposed to.

  • by wumingzi ( 67100 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @10:11AM (#679122) Homepage Journal
    I felt it would be beneficial for my wife and kid to have more Chinese-language services in our neighborhood, so I told the Census there were five guys from Mainland China living in my basement.

    Now I'm really in trouble.
  • The last I heard, the IRS is more of a "quasi-government" agency. They're a not-for-profit federally funded agency that does the government's dirty work.
  • Well, the way I see it, computers are supposed to save us time, right? So if a government employee can already open your tax form, write down your social security number, and then open your social security file and type that number in, why is it any worse just to tie the databases?

    We've been saying all along that linking itself isn't criminal. Taking the position that the government should have to access each piece of information manually and inefficiently is technophobic and, well, MPAA.
  • After all, it's not like they're publishing the results of the correlation. It's more like buying a book from Amazon and then buying another book from Amazon (yeah, I know you're boycotting them). You don't mind that they're correlating the two sales so long as the whole is maintained under the same privacy policy as the two originals. In fact, the "people who bought this book also bought ..." feature is one of Amazon's better "innovations".

    Of course, if you were lying on your Census form, or on your tax return, then you might have reason to be worried...

    --
  • by vsync64 ( 155958 ) <vsync@quadium.net> on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @10:15AM (#679126) Homepage
    That's it. Next census, I'm filling out name, age, and gender, and marking all the rest "refuse to answer". I will not sit idly by while the government uses this information against its own citizens [nwsource.com].
  • They have the method, and they have the opportunity...

    The thing to look for in this "sudden" change of face is his motive. Whom was he trying to please when he tried to get the people to distrust the government? And now who his paying his campaign funds to get him to get us to trust the same government?

    Folks, the members of Congress don't give a rat's ass one way or the other. You need to look for who is calling their shots and paying their bills if you want to see the true specific motives.

  • by EnderWiggnz ( 39214 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @10:15AM (#679128)
    this is one of those things that really makes people wonder if the crackpots wearing tinfoil hats are right.

    great, so now the government is going to check up on you. they know who you are, where you live, who lives with you, if you filed your taxes correctly, whow many tv's you own, how far you drive to work. geez...

    have you seen some of the questions on the long form? christ i wouldnt want people to be able to attribute a lot of those answers back to me, and thats exactly what they will be able to do if they cross reference all those documents.

    maybe the government should do what they are supposed to do with a census, and just count people, and not try to profile everyone and everything. imagine if they fed your long form census answers through "profiling" device such as the one being pushed by the FBI for schools.

    kids... big brother is watching.


    tagline

  • I think that the title says it all. Can you imagine what marvelous ways the government can manage to mess this up. I mean private industry and corporations do it all the time and they make so many mistakes it would be funny if it weren't so sad.

    Eric Gearman,
    Who once again got stuff from the AARP the other day.
    (I'm not old. I'm only 28.)
    --
  • So, why shouldn't the government be able to collect and correlate information about its citizens?
  • Congress would have to pass an amendment, not just a bill, an amendment to the Constitution to force the Census Bureau to turn over the data. Notice I said force. It can currently be done voluntarily. So there's plenty of opportunities, in a time when privacy issues are all over the news, to strike this down.
  • Okay... I'll admit that I don't particularly like the idea of the IRS, Census, and Social Security but is there really any compelling reason why they shouldn't, besides the paranoid (justifiable or otherwise) excuse of 'They'll have too much information'.

    Theoretically it would allow them to cross check your Tax forms to try to catch people who may not report income (but are receiving Social Security benifits from it), (or are perhaps reporting 15 children to the IRS but only 4 on the Census form).

    Anything has the potential for abuse, but decrying any utilizing of the data for fear of abuse is obtuse. I think its an interesting idea, and while I don't like the idea of profiling people, considering how much you can find out about someone on their Credit Report, I don't see why the government as a whole should be prevented from puting this sort of information together. Now... tell me that they are going to start merging in FBI files, DMV records and whatnot into a 'Citizen Registration Database' and I might get worried... but then again... the FBI already does that.
  • Highly unlikly that one government employee has access or reason to access both your social security data and your tax return, since they are seperate organizations.

  • Exactly. I don't remember the author, but someone once said that invasions of privacy are more okay if it's a mutual invasion of privacy.

    For instance, it's more acceptable if a society allows anyone to invade anyone else's privacy in any way... than it is if one person can invade anyone else's privacy in any way.
    --

  • This is exactly the kind of thing that will make people not want to fill out the form every decade. Every ten years, they beg and plead for us to fill these things out. They promise confidiality. They screen the census takers. Will they never learn?

    No wonder Joseph left town when they took the census 2000 years ago. Maybe he was on to something.

  • free reg. req

    The other (non-reg) NYT link [nytimes.com]

    1Alpha7

  • by PapaZit ( 33585 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @10:22AM (#679137)
    While I believe that the NYT has a right to require registration to read their articles, there are times like now when it's funny.

    We have to provide personal demographic data to read an article about how the government wants to misuse our personal demographic data.

    --
  • that i didn't fill out my census forms.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The government does so all the time.

    Census information is totally different however. If everyone knows that census information is as un-private as everything else, noone will want to fill out the census. (I refused to fill mine out).

  • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @10:24AM (#679140)
    Aren't your IRS and Social Security files cross-corellated already?? I mean, they're both owned by the Federal Government, and you do put your social security number on your tax forms...

    Yes, but now they want to cross reference this with your Census information. Not a big deal perhaps, if you were one of the lucky (like myself) who received the "short form," but a large number of people receive the "long form" questionaire which demands (under threat of legal action if you refuse) all kinds of personal information to which the government really isn't entitled.

    Now that personal information will be correlated to your financial information, providing one-stop shopping for spooks, police, bureaucrats (who may just not like you because your dating their daughter/sister/girlfriend/wife), and any private person who has the right personal contacts to ask for the information illicitly.

    It makes an already abysmal situation with respect to personal privacy that much more abysmal. Worse, it codifies the current trend of violating our privacy into law, which is exactly the opposite of what is needed.

    For an example of a country with sane(r) privacy laws I refer you to Germany, which has made the trading of personal information illegal, even between government agencies. After getting used to having some personal privacy over there I have to say, returning to the United States was like a bucket of cold water in the face -- we have almost no privacy here, and now that status quo is about to take on the force of law and be eroded even further.

    Not a happy development at all.
  • and is this even unconstitutional? what's to stop them from doing it? he makes a good point, they're government, and the whole point of the census is to figure out how much the govt. has to spend on you...
    --
    Peace,
    Lord Omlette
    ICQ# 77863057
  • We must either use the Census data anonymously, or we can expect bad data from the census. I never answer the questions about race, due to the way ethnic Japanese U.S. citizens were treated during World War II - their census answers were used to find them and put them in concentration camps. They weren't even doing that to ethnic Germans at the time. Interesting double-standard, isn't it?

    Bruce

  • by emag ( 4640 ) <slashdot@gur s k i . o rg> on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @10:25AM (#679143) Homepage

    Under current law, census data on individuals can be used only to benefit the Census Bureau, which has balked at turning over files to the budget office without greater assurances of individual privacy. However, the Congressional number crunchers are not taking no for an answer. Republicans may tack an amendment allowing Congress access to census data onto an appropriations bill before Congress adjourns for the elections.

    The records the budget office wants are not themselves from the 2000 Census; they are voluntary responses to monthly surveys, with confidentiality promised. Forcing the bureau to give them up would set a disturbing precedent. Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta, who supervises the Census Bureau, warned Congress this month that amending the census law would "seriously compromise" the department's ability to safeguard taxpayers' privacy and "to assure continued high response rates of the American public to census surveys."


    It seems to me as though the government is attempting to modify its own "privacy policy" with regard to the Census Bureau's data, and then use the already-collected information (from when the old (current) privacy policy was/is in force) for new uses, which would clearly have not been expected, based upon the privacy policy citizens were aware of at the time they were filling out these surveys and providing their personal information.

    It seems to me that, if it's possible to sue web sites and corporations for such abuses of the public trust, we should be able to also sue the government for such. Not that I expect it likely to happen, given that the two major parties are both intent on becoming Big Brother.

    I suppose all we can do is engage in an active campaign of disinformation if/when we're asked to fill out these surveys. That, or move to a free country, if one existed.

    --
    It's pretty pathetic when karma can drop when you do nothing
  • David Brin [kithrup.com]. The Transparent Society [wirednews.com].
  • What information about me are they going to find out? How many doors I have in my house? They already know where the back door is and have been using it for years.
  • Was there a privacy notice on the census form? I don't remember seeing one....
  • "no one will ever see your responses outside of our agency"
    OK who are these cocksuckers and who exactly do I vote against? Can I just vote democrat and be safe? That was the last census I respond to and the last census my family responds to for as many generations as I am alive. If they don't want me chaperoning them on thier dates until they are 18 that is.
    What utter bullshit.
  • "A staffer for Rep. Dan Miller (R-Fla.) was summarily dismissed today after shooting his mouth off to the NYT. Currently Congresscritter Dan Miller is in panic damage-control mode & was last seem hiding under his desk."

    Personally I don't see how this li'l drone plans to get his hands on the raw Census data - he's talking out his ass. There have been many assurances, many committments on this & I don't imagine they'll get broken, particularly in an election season.

  • I filled out the census for myself and my roommate. Before the census, I received a bunch of junk mail but my roommate never got anything. My name is on so many things so I've come to expect the junk. After I filed the census, my roommate and I started to get the same identical junk mail.
    I'm never filling out the census again. It is a waste of time and money for both me and the taxpayers. The census is so 1700's. Today, we could do a statistical sampling and have more accurate results. I always thought that it was funny when they said that only 47% of the people in an area filled it out. If you already know how many people there are, why are you counting them?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why not make use of some of the space to report what Rep. Miller was really complaining about:

    The chairman blamed "some of the recent scandals involving this administration, particularly the misuse of the FBI files" for increasing distrust of government, which he said also affected response to the census.

    There's a term for misleading or senasationalistic reporting. Look it up, and ask yourself if you really want people using it when they talk about you and about /.

  • Highly unlikly that one government employee has access or reason to access both your social security data and your tax return, since they are seperate organizations.

    Not only that, but if a government employee does access both, and perhaps your census data in addition, there will be a record of these accesses. There is a small hope that such would discourage abuses, or at least provide an audit trail if and when such abuses occur.

    Now they propose a one-stop shopping center for all your personal info, displayed very neatly no doubt in a fancy new GUI for any government employee to see (and possibly abused). Where before there was discouragement, now there is active temptation.
  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @10:30AM (#679152) Homepage
    Well, be have been declared the enemy since ,a href="http://www.unitedstates-on-line.com/FDR32.ht ml">1933, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared a number of national emergencies (banking, agriculture, etc) as part of his New Deal program and obtained sweeping, dictatorial [l0pht.com] powers under the Title 50 [cornell.edu], also known as the War Powers Act of 1917. Section 5b provides for expanded presidential powers. This act has been amended several times. We're still in that state of emergency, officially. FDR didn't assign the new powers to existing agencies, but created new "temporary" agencies, many of which still exist today. No president has been willing to end it, because they give up their special powers when that happens.


    ________________________________________
  • Of course, if you were lying on your Census form, or on your tax return, then you might have reason to be worried...

    Speaking of lying, what about all the promises that Census information was confidential? Are they allowed to simply ignore promises when it's convienent.

    A lot of people were really pissed off when etoys.com went under and sold their contact list despite promises to the contrary. Why should the government not have to face such scrutiny?

    The fact is if you promise to keep information confidential you should keep it confidential, not change your mind whenever it's convienent.
  • True... unless, of course, you use the ever-popular partners.nytimes.com [nytimes.com]link to the story instead.
  • "Consider the source" is an ad hominem attack. Ad hominem essentially means that we should think that the speaker has some irrational or underhanded motive for adopting their point of view; and therefore their point of view is invalid. Never considering the actual strength or weakness of the argument, nor whether its premises might be true or not.

    It's also a quick way out for an opponent who has no convincing argument to stand against it. Like you.
  • by dodecahedron ( 231077 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @10:33AM (#679157)
    I got the census long form and was horrified at that they expected me to tell them. So I ignored it. After the third visit from the census person, I took pity on her and called the number listed on the card she left. I told her I was the brother of the man living there, and there was no one in residence, my brother being overseas. That was the end of it as far as they were concerned. If they just wanted to count me, then that would be one thing, but when they want to know how many toilets I have, am I Hispanic (and am I SURE I'm not Hispanic?), how much I earn, blah blah blah, they've gone over the line. This story just reinforces the wisdom of that decision. It's gotten so that if the government tells me one thing, my first inclination is to believe the exact opposite. And they wonder why.
  • The government collects and integrates all this data on its citizens. Someone sues for access to this information with the freedom of information act, and eventually gains access to the info. Now said party sells the information to bulk mailers and telemarkers - what kind of value would that database have?

    I realize that I've made it sound a little too easy to get at the info, but someone WILL find a way to make it public. Again, just figure out the value of all that info to marketing scum. Hell, the govt could sell it and bail out the social security trust fund they've raped. The kind of money the list is worth will guaranteee corruption of the system.

    Not that im paranoid or distrut the government or anything...

  • Well, be have been declared the enemy since 1933, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared a number of national emergencies [unitedstates-on-line.com] (banking, agriculture, etc) as part of his New Deal program and obtained sweeping, dictato ria l [l0pht.com] powers under Title 50 [cornell.edu], also known as the War Powers Act of 1917. Section 5b provides for expanded presidential powers. This act has been amended several times. We're still in that state of emergency, officially; in fact, Clinton extended it. [freerepublic.com] FDR didn't assign the new powers to existing agencies, but created new "temporary" agencies, many of which still exist today. No president has been willing to end it, because they give up their special powers when that happens.

    It's the national emergency that lets the President legislate via executive order. The power of legislation is supposed to rest in congress, not the President. Since 1933, the President has been able to legislate on his own without oversight from any part of the government. We have been living in a nation of Public Policy, not Common Law, since then.

    Ask your favorite candidate if they plan to end all national emergencies, including the big, old one.

    (previous post due to slipup with "submit" vs "preview")

    ________________________________________
  • No president has been willing to end it, because they give up their special powers when that happens.

    Forget not the fact that the geezers vote en masse, no smart politician wants to get them angry(Or scared).

    LK
  • Forget not the fact that the geezers vote en masse, no smart politician wants to get them angry(Or scared).

    Oh, I realize it. [boortz.com] I just wish everyone did.


    ________________________________________
  • Well, seems to me you should have written:

    UPDATE Privacy P
    SET public_good = 'N',
    GOP = 'Y',
    liars = 'Y',
    privacy_rights = 'Sold to Highest Bidder'
    FROM Census C
    WHERE C.personal_record = P.personal_record
    AND C.legal = 'N'
    AND P.voting_this_election IS NOT NULL

  • by J05H ( 5625 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @10:38AM (#679171) Homepage
    Been there, did that. 8)
    My two former roommates filled out the long Census form like dutiful little sheep. I put that there was 1 other person there (all that the Constitution authorizes) and that the questions were a violation of my rights.
    A month or so later, some tool showed up at our door wanting to clarify the census stats for "Mr. Constitution". Luckily, I was at work, and my roomie respects my privacy.
  • Why would anyone be surprised by / paranoid about this? Information, even census information, wants to be free.
    --
  • by Stavr0 ( 35032 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @10:40AM (#679174) Homepage Journal
    Human Resources Canada tried to pull a fast one like that a while ago. The fit hit the shan (breach of privacy) and they had to back off and dismantle it. DROP DATABASE LLFF [hrdc-drhc.gc.ca]
    This file was a collation of Employment, Unemployment, Taxation and Customs files on Canadian Citizens. One particularly interesting usage was to XREF people returning from vacation with unemployment records. So that if you were on EI and took a week to Aruba, they'd mark you as ineligible and fine you for the extra weeks paid out.
    ---
    Vote Inanimate Carbon Rod in 2000
  • Since he hadn't filled out the form he received, we filled it out and required that all residents in his house have more than two racial subgroups.

    Actually, I seem to recall that since we're typical Americans, it wasn't hard to do that and tell the truth at the same time, but this is in Sourthern California (Santa Barbara CA).

    So, is there a penalty if you live in two houses and you fill out the census forms twice?

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @10:47AM (#679179) Homepage Journal
    The census people are going to be pissed at me. I told them I've got 87 mexicans and a rhesus monkey living at my house, but the IRS guys don't know anything about that. Maybe I should start claiming them as dependents (Can you claim a rhesus monkey as a dependent?) so that the records correlate...
  • Yet another reason to vote Libertarian:

    With no IRS and no extensive Census records, there's nothing to correlate.

    -
  • by Xerxes ( 82848 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @10:53AM (#679184)
    Write your MC (see http://www.house.gov/writerep/ [house.gov]).

    Or write Rep. Miller. Miller's site cleverly does not include his email address, but according to this site turned up by Google [webslingerz.com], Miller's email is miller13@mail.house.gov. Seems plausible, since he represents the 13th district in Florida. It won't be his personal email address, however. Ask him or his flacks to explain the apparent inconsistency in his two positions, as indicated by the links in the header. Note that http://www.house.gov/danmiller/census/faq.htm [house.gov], the official FAQ of the Census Subcommittee, hosted by Miller's office, encourages people to divulge all the requested information to the Census, and states the following to assuage their privacy concerns:

    5. Is the information I provide contained in my Census 2000 questionnaire private?

    Yes. In fact, it is against the law for Census employees to disclose the information you provide. Information that is gathered and released by the Census Bureau is not connected with your household's address. By law, the Bureau cannot and will not share your households census information with the IRS, FBI, INS -- or any other government agency for that matter. There is no court of law that can subpoena this information, not even the President of the United States.

    If you live in his District, write your local paper. Get them to ask him to explain the apparent inconsistency in his public statements. He's up for reelection. Make it an issue if you are a constituent.

    You only have yourself to blame for your cynicism and inaction. Bitching on Slashdot won't change the world. At least not in politics. Slashdot is useful to let you know what's going on, but bitching here won't do much of anything except give you some catharsis.

  • Remember the history books about how the US rounded up Americans with Japanese ancestory in 1942 and put them in concentration camps?

    How do you think they knew who was who?

    Admittedly they used several methods, but one was Census data, given quite willingly at that time by the Census Bureau...
    Herb

  • by disenfranchised ( 198342 ) <brendan&impson,com> on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @10:59AM (#679189) Homepage

    When the census guy finally got around to us, we had to sit him down and pour him a drink. The short form isn't all that short if you've got 12 people living in your house, only two of them are home, and you've got to guess at peoples birth dates, full names, etc.

    Maybe they'll connect my census records with my asbestos testing results, housing inspections, fire inspections, police records, and strong sugestions to the IRS criminal investigation about my slumlord. At that point Carole's abuse of the SkunkHouse [impson.com] residents will probably fall under RICO.

  • what about all the promises that Census information was confidential? Are they allowed to simply ignore promises when it's convienent

    It is still confidential. No-one outside the government is going to see it. You obviously missed the point of my analogy with having two transactions with Amazon. The individual transactions are confidential, and the correlation between the two is confidential. So long as none of the information leaves the organization, no breach of promise or privacy has occurred.

    --
  • by Xenu ( 21845 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @11:02AM (#679191)
    The FBI used Census Bureau information to help round up Japanese-Americans for internment during World War II.

    I hope the Census Bureau tells Congress to go fuck themselves. Otherwise, they will lose all of their credibility.

  • Because congress won't let them. Apparently the Census folks asked Congress if they could use statistical sampling to improve their accuracy and Congress said no. Apparently older richer people are more likely to fill out Census forms, which determines how funding is distributed. With the current system, richer neighborhoods tend to recieve more money proportionally than poorer neighborhoods. Some well connected people apparently didn't want to give that up.

    Personally I can't really see the justification behind forcing everyone to fill out these forms anymore.
  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <tms.infamous@net> on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @11:07AM (#679196) Homepage
    but a large number of people receive the "long form" questionaire which demands (under threat of legal action if you refuse)
    Well, they haven't come to cart me away yet, and odds are pretty good that they won't.

    I got sent the long form. I sent it back with the information that two people live here, and declined to answer everythng else.

    The Congress is authorized to conduct an enumeration, not an in-depth analysis of citizen's liefstyles. Where demographic data is needed it can be collected voluntarily, and anonymously. Or via statistical means where the respondant combines their answer with random noise so you don't know how any one person answered, but can tell how the group answered.

  • Not only that, but if a government employee does access both, and perhaps your census data in addition, there will be a record of these accesses. There is a small hope that such would discourage abuses, or at least provide an audit trail if and when such abuses occur.

    Ever see the postings to Usenet from university accounts of people who forgot to logoff their terminals? I also remember the time a collegue of mine who used to work for an airline had to find out the flight number that a particular person was on and simply walked up to vacant terminals at the airport until he found one that was still logged on. To anyone looking at him funny, he simply said he was checking his email (a capability of airline reservations systems). Since he looked like he knew what he was doing, nobody questioned him. That whole episode was scary from many aspects, since he used the info obtained to go to the departing flight, crawl into the luggage hold and switch suitcases with the guy, who had accidentally picked his up on the shuttle bus. No one stopped him. Amazing.

  • IRS shares data with lots of agencies, including SSA (to confirm FICA withholding, forward Self-Employment tax payments, etc.), Dept of Education (to confirm eligibility for Student Financial Aid), and others.

    That I know of, SSA does NOT share individual data with anyone, except death records, which they will share with anyone (not just government agencies). In some cases, SSA will take another agencies data, do a match for them, and then provide 'cleansed' results. That might be a good alternative for the curent situation, have Census do the match and then provide the results in 'cleansed' data.

    Most agencies provide data TO Census, for example, they get a HUGE data dump from the Post Office of every mailing address in the country, but Census does not share INDIVIDUAL data with ANYONE.

  • Well, 13 U.S.C. 9 [cornell.edu] is a law that requires the Census Bureau to not release personally identifiable information to ANYONE, including other parts of the government. If a member of the census violates this, they can go to jail for 5 years or pay $5000.

    The Census Bureau is only allowed to release information in aggregate.

    I believe the intent is to get the most accurate information possible by promising confidentiality, similar to drug surveys. Only in this case, it's not only a promise but a law.
    --

  • And when you sat down and entered your personal information onto a government form, you weren't even the teensiest bit concerned? The possibility that that information could be misused never occurred to you, even in a hypothetical scenario?

    If that's the case, then no one can protect you. It's like a newbie running a virgin install without changing the default passwords complaining that he's been hacked...

    You have to at least be aware that there's a reason people line their hats with Reynolds Wrap... and that it's only crazy 99% of the time. The other 1%, the tinfoil wiggers get to say "I told you so."

  • And the Census Bureau will be privatized, meaning that some corporation can make any deals they want.
    --
  • Actually, this is likely. Once I was speaking with an IRS on the telephone and part of the verification process included a short discussion of my birthdate, which was entered incorrectly in their file. The agent said that they get this information from the SSA and told me I should call them to discuss the matter more fully. The beauty of it was that my birthdate had been accidentally changed during a routine update (name change) of my SSA file-- then the SSA gave me a complete run-around in order to have it changed back to the obviously correct and former value, but that's a whole other story.
  • Is this the same page that the post is talking about? I'm just curious because hemos said that "the new york times reported" but this is a link to an opinion piece, not expected to be a objective (or even as objective as I can expect from NYT) news source.

    It also admitted towards the end that they actually were looking for something different than the actual official census answers, but voluntarily filed supplementary sheets done throughout the year.

    -Kahuna Burger

  • by Col. Klink (retired) ( 11632 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @11:20AM (#679209)
    "Its" citizens? "ITS" citizens??? Fuck you. I don't belong to the government, the government belongs to me.

    But if you must know, governments should not be able to track "its" citizens because of the history of government abuses. While the US decried to horrors of Nazi Germany rounding up the Jews, the US rounded up Japanese... with information from the Census.

    Hitler didn't have anything like the detailed information on "his" citizens that the US has today. The Nazis kept records of suspected Jews in shoeboxes.

    If a neo-fascist came to power in the US and decided to implement a final solution, having a nice cross referenced database like this would be invaluable.

    You can't say "it can't happen here" when it already did once before.
  • and the whole point of the census is to figure out how much the govt. has to spend on you...

    BZZZT! And thank you for playing! Here's [sjgames.com] your lovely partying gift.

    The purpose of the census, per the US Constitution is the apportionment of House of Representatives. Period. Congratulations, Lord Omlette, you bought the government's story - hook, line, and sinker.
  • Alright, I'll drop the (perfectly-justified) "fear the government" argument and give you a practical reason why the government should stop now: the only reason people filed honestly was because they *thought* their responses were confidential.

    Even with all the "legal" privacy protections, the Census still had trouble getting responses from those that didn't trust them. If they openly and blatantly violate that promise now, they can pretty much be sure that all future data collected will be useless.

    The Census complained that all those Republicans that were questioning the long-form were responsible for less turnout than they predicted...

    They want to correlate with voluntary surveys that were filled out with assurances of privacy. Do you think those respondents (or any others) will fill out another voluntary survey?
  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @11:34AM (#679213) Homepage
    Um, no [militia-watchdog.org].

    Thanks for the informative post. The law is simply too complicated these days. Here's the text he linked to:

    Talking about a "War Powers Act": Nasir v. Anderson (D NJ unpub 8/25/97); Daigle v. US (6th Cir unpub 1/29/96) 76 F2d 378(t); McCann v. Greenway (WD Mo 1997) 952 F.Supp 647; this myth is especially popular with a veterinarian, Gene Schroder, (sometimes spelled Schroeder, but I follow the spelling used in 800 P2d 1360), who evidently characterizes as the "War Powers Act" the National Banking Emergency Act of March 9, 1933, the first act signed by FDR, 48 Stat 1, which was mostly codified under title 12 (banking) and deals entirely with regulating banks and restricting the hoarding and exporting of currency and precious metals, contrary to various myths it has nothing to do with the flag, the military, the courts, or ordinary life; the statute apparently did not, by itself, commence a National Emergency and, if it did, that period was long over. A court decision, US v. Bishop (10th Cir 1977) 555 F2d 771, held that a Vietnam War perp's destruction of a power line in 1969 could not be especially punished under the Sabotage Act as having been committed during a time "of national emergency" as the only national emergency that could be argued was still in effect in 1969 was Truman's 1950 Proclamation arising from the Korean War. Almost immediately after the Bishop decision, Congress authorized a study into emergency powers legislation preparatory to new legislation to restrict the applications of states of emergency; the resulting study, the Report of the Senate Special Committee on the Termination of the National Emergency, Emergency Powers Statutes: Provision of federal law now in effect delegating to the executive extraordinary authority in time of national emergency, Sen.Rept. 93-549, 11/19/73, 607 pages; mostly a listing of statutory provisions that allowed the govt to skip certain procedural steps if during a declared state of national emergency. This report determined that, in 1973, there were still existent four declared states of emergency: Section 1 of the 1933 Act, which is (still in effect) now 12 USC sec. 95b (which only authorizes the issuance of new regs designed to facilitate 12 USC sec. 95a which restricts the exporting, hoarding, or melting of gold and other precious metals), Truman's 1950 proclamation about the Korean War, Nixon's 1970 proclamation about the postal service strike, and Nixon's 1971 proclamation about an economic emergency arising from the balance of trade deficit which including imposing an additional tariff on imports. As a result of this study, Congress enacted a few years later the National Emergencies Act, PL 94-412, 9/14/1976, 90 Stat 1255, codified at 50 USC sec. 1601, 1621, etc., which imposed a two year duration on any existing national emergencies and required that any future declaration of a national emergency must be reviewed by Congress at six month intervals. Subsequently, Congress amended the 1933 Act by enacting the War or National Emergency Act, PL 95-223, 12/28/77, 91 Stat 1625, which amended 12 USC sec. 95a to limit explicitly the President's capacity to impose the restrictions of the Trading with the Enemy Act and to issue regulations about international transactions involving money, credit or precious metals to "time of war" and not during a mere "period of national emergency" (striking that expression wherever it had appeared in the 1933 Act); in the accompanying committee report (Sen.Rpt. 95-466) it was explained that this 1977 law was in furtherance of the 1976 law on limiting national emergencies, and was deliberately intended to limit and terminate what it considered excessive Presidential use of the four old declared emergencies to manipulate the laws on international financial transactions. Altho militia mythology stresses that we are always in a declared state of emergency, it turns out that the emergency situations which still persist - and they do persist, according to occasional Presidential Executive Orders - relate directly to foreign events, such as Mideast terrorism, and are limited to such things as embargoes and the freezing of certain bank assets associated with a foreign adversary.
    ... I have a question for you, though; why do executive orders reference previous executive orders about the "emergency," extend it, and also reference section 5b of Title 50? The 1976 law did not repeal Title 50, or end all of the "emergencies" declared under its aegis, or nullify the executive orders that are based on it. Granted that congress requires renewal of the emergencies now, but it's always renewed. The end result if the same -- sweeping power for the President.

    Do you have a list of all current national ermegencies you can post for us? Perhaps with references to EOs that mention them?

    Thanks!

    ________________________________________
  • The point is that nobody with any influence will stand up and stop this from happening. The politicians will get on tv and lie through their teeth to the people of this country about how this isn't really a bad thing. Nobody will know what's going on, and therefore they won't get sufficiently pissed off to put a stop to it.

    I'll be writing more letters to my congresscritters about this. They're idiots apparently, given their responses to my last round of letters. (My representative took my support for the new Music Owners' Listening Rights Act as support for Napster, which I only mentioned briefly in passing. Aaargh!) They're idiots, but I don't know what else I can do right now to fight this sort of thing.

  • Well, you may be able to sue the government for violation of an implied contract. This would be a good exercise for the EFF...
  • by Wellspring ( 111524 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @12:17PM (#679226)
    Can we at least get the same information and correlations for all officers of the government posted online? After all, if they think it's fine to correlate and snoop on us, it must be okay for use to correlate and snoop on them. Or they could have kept their promise not to hand out the census data. Yeah. Right.

    Actually, for the most part, this is already the case. Congressional and executive salaries, including non-government salaries, are all publicly declared and reported. You can request all this stuff-- it is public record, and occasionally published in the newspapers if it has some shred of juiciness to it.

    Campaign contributors are the same way. Try to donate five bucks to a candidate-- you'll have to enter personal information to allow them to comply with campaign finance laws-- and much is published by the Federal Elections Commission.

    Anyway, the whole point of the Census-- the reason it is in the constitution-- is to give government agencies, especially Congress, the information they need to determine the effects of different public policies. For instance, if the Congressional Budget Office wants to determine what the effects of a tax increase will be-- who it will hit and by how much, and what the effects on revenue will be, they need that information. The Census makes government (theoretically) more science and less guesswork. There's still plenty of opinion to politics, but solid numbers helps people.

    That's one reason why libertarians and conservatives don't like how huge government has become. It has touched so many areas of our personal lives that it has to collect invasive information about us. Free healthcare for everyone? Well, we need to know if you qualify. Diane Feinstein, for instance, supported a plan to have a national ID card/database. The plan was rescinded when Congress changed parties.

    You can't support a bigger government (as Nader, Gore and Feinstein do) without supporting measures to give government the authority to gather the personal information it needs to support a larger government.

  • by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @12:23PM (#679229) Homepage
    Dude, I cannot fathom how you string together these ideas and come out convinced that everyone else is conspiring against you.

    First off, national emergencies have nothing to do with executive orders. Executive orders are just that -- orders from the chief of the executive branch of the Unites States government. They do have the power and effect of law, but can be overturned at any time by congress or the courts should they see fit. There is no special authority from executive orders that allow the president to do anything strange -- it's how every president does their job!

    Second, the whole "FDR National Emergency" is bullshit. There's no such emergency that's still going on -- if you had read the same section 50 you cite with such confidence, you'd know this:

    All powers and authorities possessed by the President, any other officer or employee of the Federal Government, or any executive agency, as defined in section 105 of title 5, as a result of the existence of any declaration of national emergency in effect on September 14, 1976, are terminated two years from September 14, 1976. Such termination shall not affect -
    (1) any action taken or proceeding pending not finally
    concluded or determined on such date;
    (2) any action or proceeding based on any act committed prior
    to such date; or
    (3) any rights or duties that matured or penalties that were
    incurred prior to such date.


    Your paranoia is about 25 years late, though clearly unfounded in the first place, considering these laws were put into place by congress due to presidential overstepping of bounds during Vietnam.

    I would find it simply hilarious that you believe this stuff, except that the message board you linked to had so many other willing believers. So tell me, the conspiracy to keep Clinton in office when his term is up (the one the whole "national emergency" was supposedly cooked up for) -- when exactly does that take place? I mean, we've only got two weeks until the election so the stormtroopers better start now.

    It might look bad for him to seize control of the government after the elections...


    ---------------------------------------------
  • The folks at Census know that public confidence in the confidentiality of the data collected is *essential* to collecting *any* worthwhile data. They have fought valiantly to maintain that trust. But if congress passes a law requiring it there's not much they can do, so raise a stink and talk to your congressperson.

    The law that protects Census data is Title 13.

    You can read about it on the Census Policy page: (at the bottom of the page)
    http://www.census.gov/main/www/poli cie s.html [census.gov]

    Or on congresses 'code' page: http://uscode.house.gov/title_13.htm Here's the meat: [house.gov]
    (a) Neither the Secretary, nor any other officer or employee of the Department of Commerce or bureau or agency thereof, or local government census liaison, may, except as provided in section 8 or 16 or chapter 10 of this title or section 210 of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1998 or section 2(f) of the Census of Agriculture Act of 1997 -
    (1) use the information furnished under the provisions of this title for any purpose other than the statistical purposes for which it is supplied; or
    (2) make any publication whereby the data furnished by any particular establishment or individual under this title can be identified; or
    (3) permit anyone other than the sworn officers and employees of the Department or bureau or agency thereof to examine the individual reports.

  • No, the reason they don't use sampling is because it is more vulnerable to political motivation. The Constitution demands an 'enumeration'. Not a guess-- even a solid one. An actual count is tougher, but less vulnerable to political manipulation-- there are long lines of clever stat people ready to skew the results the 'right way'. Look at the numbers both our candidates spout on their economic plans.

    You'd have to change the Constitution to change the Census policy.

  • Both run ancient COBOL systems for the most part.
    I find that if I make typo in a tax return- mainly forgeting a 1099- the state system catches them faster than federal, if the federal catches them at all.
  • .

    Or they could have kept their promise not to hand out the census data. Yeah. Right.

    Actually, what they promised was not to give the information to any unauthorized parties. Authorization, it seems, is pretty easy to get.

  • If the data is usable- not a given in crude federal computer systems- someone will figure out a justification for using it.

    Some states are pretty bad- for example CA. The most reliable and comprehensive database is the drivers registration database. That should be used for tracking driver licenses, car registrations, vehicle taxes, and driving violations. But CA attaches all kinds of non-driving stuff to it- because the database is relatively decent. The DMV is used for tracking rogue child support, jury duty, identification cards, immigration eligibilty, parts sold to credit agencies, marketers, plus other things. All this non-driving stuff slows down the over all computer & human system.
    Its only a matter of time before the feds get their act together and do similar data mining abuses.

  • Which is fine, considering they won't know anything about me except the number of people in my household.
  • If you have 5 minutes to spare (yeah you do), read the SkunkHouse page in the above post. It's exactly like the house that everyone lives in at college but MUCH MUCH worse. I almost feel good about my shithole of a house after seeing that one.

    -B
  • Dan Miller was blaming the Clinton adminstration for making the American people distrust their government

    So much for the Clinton-haters who say that he never did anything good for the country.
    /.

  • I never answer the questions about race

    I wrote in "Human". I was so hoping that the Census people would insist on some other answer, so I could sell the story to the Weekly World News [weeklyworldnews.com] ("Census Discovers Space Alien Living In U.S.!!")
    /.

  • by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @02:02PM (#679248) Homepage
    why do executive orders reference previous executive orders about the "emergency," extend it

    Because any "national emergency" (not any executive order) automatically expire after a year, so they have to be "extended" every year to stay in effect. Every extension has to go to Congress, and congress can feel free to say "no" to the president if they want to.

    and also reference section 5b of Title 50? The 1976 law did not repeal Title 50, or end all of the "emergencies" declared under its aegis, or nullify the executive orders that are based on it.

    It didn't repeal title 50 (why would it need to?) Title 50 is a huge group of laws, and they amended it in places so that the existing emergencies would expire in '76, and any new ones had to be renewed annually to stay in effect.

    The powers that militias claim a state of "national emergeny" gives the president are much more limited than they claim. It doesn't let him order FEMA into your neighborhood in black helicoptors -- but it does allow him to say (for example) that for the next year all transfers of assets between Afghanistan and the US have to be declared to the State department, and may be blocked at the departments's discretion.

    Congress is still congress -- the president cannot unilaterally declare himself dictator (well, he could, but it wouldn't mean anything). If they want to vote down an executive order (including any one that declares a state of emergency) they can certainly do so.

    The White House even has a searchable online listing of all executive orders [whitehouse.gov]. Most of them are boring things like "from now on the president will have a council of watchmakers to advise him, and they will be appointed by him on an annual basis."

    Granted that congress requires renewal of the emergencies now, but it's always renewed. The end result if the same -- sweeping power for the President

    It's renewed if the president wants to, but the congress has the authority to say "no". Go to the link you included on Title 50, and look around in it. It states pretty clearly all the checks and balances Congress added that restrict possible abuse by the President. Also remember that Congress is the only body that can spend money -- they make all the budgets, it's one of their exclusive checks over the other branches of government. If the president does something they don't like (even if he has the legal authority), they can just cut his budget. Just as they've threatened several times to Clinton over military engagements overseas -- even though the President can commit forces unilaterally, he can't pay the bills without Congress' approval.

    Seriously, 5 minutes of reading the actual US Code will tell you more than 5 hours of tax-dodgers who claim that FEMA is shipping "road closed" signs to huge warehouses for the Y2k takeover (oops, that one didn't happen, either!)...

    ---------------------------------------------
  • The US Census used to be specifically exempt from providing any personal data to other government agencies. That's something the US Census Bureau has been taking very seriously until now. You were not supposed to get into trouble for incriminating yourself on census forms.

    The reason for these kinds of protections is that the government needs accurate statistical data on what is going on in the country to make policy decisions. Laying open US Census information would only result in non-response. The net result would only be that the government would have much less accurate statistical data.

    If the CBO, or some other government office, wants to correlate data, they can submit IRS, INS, and other data to the Census Bureau, the Census Bureau can do the correlation, and provide aggregate statistical results back to other government agencies. If the US Census Bureau continues to take privacy as seriously as they have in the past, this should not raise significant privacy concerns.

    If Dan Miller doesn't understand the need for safeguarding the ability of the US government to collect accurate statistical data, and the profoundly negative effect tampering with the current privacy guarantees of the US Census would have on that ability, he should probably not be on the congressional census committee.

  • by The Rizz ( 1319 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2000 @02:59PM (#679251)
    I worked for the census doing the door-to-door questionaires this summer, and find this proposal to be quite troublesome - and interestingly enough, possibly completely illegal.

    When I was working for them, I was assured time and again that no information I collected would be given out in any way that could ever, under any circumstance, identify any individual. We were told that anyone working for the Census Bureau who gave out any information we collected could be fined thousands of dollars and thrown in jail for several years.

    We were told that all the information beyond the "number of people who live here" questions were used for statistical purposes - finding out the average income of households in certain areas, finding out how long most people took to drive to work, etc.

    Many people I met going door to door would never have given me the information they did if I hadn't assured them that the law stated that nobody from outside the Census Bureau would get any of this information. I would hate to find out now that although I was telling the truth at the time, I could now, retroactively, be made to have been lying to them.

    One interesting thing about it, though, is that part of the procedure of the job was to give everyone I talked to a notice telling them that everything they told me was completely confidential, and informing them of their rights in the matter.
    My question about the legality of this would be whether the Census Bureau, by ensuring people of that right through the notices I handed them before asking any questions, had entered into a contract of sorts? Or, since many people gave the information only because they were told it was confidential, would it constitute fraud?

    In any case, if this change in law goes through, it will most probably destroy the census - the only reason 90% of the people I talked to told me anything was because they beleived the information was confidential. Take that beleif away, and I doubt many will give anything beyond name, rank, and seriel number.

  • I would find it simply hilarious that you believe this stuff,

    Until you posted, I had seen no dispute of it, in spite of looking. I don't belive in a FEMA conquering force, black helicopters, etc. Just that in reading about the formation and early history of the Federal Reserve System and previous US central banks, I came across that mess.



    ________________________________________
  • Anyway, the whole point of the Census-- the reason it is in the constitution-- is to give government agencies, especially Congress, the information they need to determine the effects of different public policies.

    No, I don't think so - there is no reason to include it in the constitution if this is all it is for. It is there because votes in the electoral college, and perhaps state contributions to federal government, depend on the populations of the states. I.e. the US constitution is unworkable without knowing the populations of the states.

  • I understand perfectly. The explict promise was that NOBODY including other parts of the government would see my answers. Not the INS, not the IRS, not the FBI, not anybody except for the bean counters and statisticians in the Census Bureau who wouldn't release any of the information except in a statistical and anonymous sense.
  • Unless actually specified as such (as in the original comment), most people would assume Julius Caesar.

    Nope, just you. I mean, come on, I thought everyone knew that -- what do they teach you at school there? =^) <-- note

  • > I got sent the long form. I sent it back with the information that two people live here, and declined to answer everythng else. ... The Congress is authorized to conduct an enumeration, not an in-depth analysis of citizen's liefstyles.

    I missed out on the long form. Is there any perjury penalty associated with it? I might have been tempted to give the same kind of highly reliable personal info I give on product warranty forms.
  • One-click govt!

    All your information will be stored in a cookie somewhere, all correlated, cross-referenced, and catalogued, so that when they need to do something, all they have to do is load your profile, and... click.

    Of course, I'm not creative to actually list out what they would do to use or abuse this info. Of course, it's also late, and I'm not feeling particularly paranoid or creative, either...

    The nick is a joke! Really!

  • In any NYTimes url, simply replace the "www" with "partners" and you don't have to sign in.

    For example: http://partners.nytimes.com/2000/10/23/opinion/23M ONK.html [nytimes.com]

    Simple, huh? But obviously too complicated for the fucking morons who post these stories.


    D.

    PS: And why doesn't CmdrTacky fix that damned bug that arbitrarily puts spaces into URLs which form part of the text of comments?

  • he White House even has a searchable online listing of all executive orders.

    Actually, it seems to go back to only 1993. Is there a more comprehensive list?

    ________________________________________
  • Privatization != unregulated

    Can private prisons make deals to murder their prisoners?

    Anyway, who cares what deals a privatized Census Bureau will make? They won't be able to force you to answer their questions, so who cares what they ask?

    The only question the Constitution allows the Census to ask is "how many people live in your house?" Who cares who they give that information to?

    Are you afraid you're going to get junk mail that's specifically targetted at houses with 3 people in them?

    -
  • We control the vertical. Do not attempt to adjust your television set.
  • Just a few days ago, a guy that I work with said "I'm working," so he doesn't care about any other social or economic issue. As long as he has his job and can pay his bills, everything else is secondary.

    He's in his 40s. Attitudes are far worse with younger people. I'm 25 and I could count on one hand the number of people my age that I know who actually care about the issues.

    LK
  • Better go back and review your civics courses.

    I have, and in practical, day-to-day operations, Congress, the President and most federal and many state agencies depend on census data to maintain reliable information from which to make policy decisions. Why do you think there was such an advertising blitz in the inner cities? Because uncounted people reduce the government funds to which people are entitled.

    Most of the federal government is based on ideas which aren't specifically enumerated in the Constitution. While I am very worried about how invasive the government has become, there are many implied powers which everyone agrees is important. The census's role in keeping policy as quantitative as possible is just as important as its raw people counting role.

Science may someday discover what faith has always known.

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