Protecting Your Personal Information
Federal law protects your identity and information given.
Be assured, your information is safe.
The Census Bureau depends on your cooperation and trust, and promises to protect the confidentiality of your information. Title 13 of the U.S. Code protects the confidentiality of all your information and violating this law is a crime with severe penalties. In addition, other federal laws, including the Confidential Statistical Efficiency Act and the Privacy Act reinforce these protections.
It is against the law to disclose or publish any of the following information:
- Addresses including GPS coordinates
- Social Security numbers
- Telephone numbers
Information is Collected to Produce Statistics
We use your information to produce statistics. Your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.
Sworn for Life to Protect Your Confidentiality
All Census Bureau employees take the oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data.
Violating the Oath Is a Serious Crime
The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to 5 years, or both.
Common Privacy Questions
How is my information protected?
All Census Bureau employees take the oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents' answers with anyone, including the IRS, FBI, CIA or any other government agency.
Can my neighbor see my information?
No. Individual census records are not shared with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement entities. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents' answers with anyone, -- not the IRS, not the FBI, not the CIA, and not with any other government agency. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to 5 years, or both.
How can I keep my information safe?
The easiest way to keep your information safe is to fill out your census form and mail it back right away. Also, look for identification from census takers and remember the Census Bureau will NEVER ask for any information to be submitted online.
What steps are taken if my information is compromised?
A determination of the sensitivity of the information and the specific details associated with incidents determines the action the Census Bureau takes. Actions range from sending notification letters to providing credit-monitoring services. All incidents are reviewed and Census Bureau senior management receives regular status reports on the incidents.
Why is the Census Bureau using Global Positioning Systems (GPS)?
The Census Bureau uses Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to help locate addresses. A handheld computer is equipped with GPS and is used during the address canvassing operation. Address canvassing is a field operation where census workers systematically travel all known and new streets and roads to identify every structure where people live or could potentially live and update the address list and maps. For the 2010 Census, the Census Bureau attempted to collect GPS coordinates for each structure to make sure it was recorded in the correct location. The census workers also confirmed, added and deleted addresses using a GPS-equipped handheld computer. All this work was done to ensure a complete and accurate address list for delivering the 2010 Census questionnaires next year.
Are the GPS coordinates collected during the 2010 Census kept confidential?
Yes. All address information, including GPS coordinates, is protected by the confidentiality requirements of Title 13 of the United States Code. All Census Bureau employees take an oath for life to protect identifiable information about individuals and businesses gathered by the agency. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents' answers with the IRS, FBI, CIA or any other government agency. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to 5 years, or both.
How your data is used?
If you're curious to as to exactly how the data the census collects is used, visit the 2000 Census overview for an in-depth description. Visit the 2000 Census website.
6. Protecting your Personal Information
7. Key Dates