Protecting the 2020 Census from Fraud

Census2020-1The U.S. national census in 2020 will be the first to rely primarily on the Internet for collecting census data, thereby creating new avenues for fraud and disruption. A new report from the JASON scientific advisory panel describes the problem and outlines some solutions.

The report says, “Several distinguishable types of fraud against the census must be considered, including: hacking the census for fun or bragging rights; social media attempts to discredit the census and reduce cooperation; mimicry of the census forms or apps for purposes including phishing; city or district-level attempts to changes population numbers or distributions; large scale attempts to affect apportionment of the House of Representatives; individual mischief and anti-government protest.”

The JASON report, prepared for the U.S. Census Bureau, included several technical and procedural recommendations to impede fraudulent activity, to facilitate its detection, and to mitigate its consequences. The report is available at

My thanks to newsletter reader Ashley Odell for telling me about the report.


What are the proposed penalties for not sending it at all? I great way for hiding isn’t it or is that why they are doing it. All the illegals will be safe.


    —> What are the proposed penalties for not sending it at all?

    “a) Whoever, being over eighteen years of age, refuses or willfully neglects, when requested by the secretary, or by any other authorized officer or employee of the Department of Commerce or bureau or agency thereof acting under the instructions of the secretary or authorized officer, to answer, to the best of his knowledge, any of the questions on any schedule submitted to him in connection with any census or survey provided for by subchapters I, II, IV, and V of chapter 5 of this title, applying to himself or to the family to which he belongs or is related, or to the farm or farms of which he or his family is the occupant, shall be fined not more than $100.”

    The fine for refusing to answer a bureau survey can be as much as $5,000, the bureau separately says online, citing Section 3571 of Title 18.

    Individuals willfully giving false answers to the government face a fine of up to $500, Section 121 says.


Fine words indeed. And will the government attempt to collect fines from defaulters. More likely, IMO, is that ‘genuine’ people will pay up. The ‘bad guys’ will default and then simply get forgotten about.


I guess we can’t expect much in the way of smarts from our goverment – what a perfect set up for identify thieft and just think almost 5 years to work on it with the government contractors, with the announcment it so well in advance – if anyone is counting, how many government programs have been hacked in just the last year? and that does not include the ACA which was set up so that the government does not need to even tell you when the system is hacked.
I worked on the 2000 and 2010 Census and trust me it is a people problem not a paper problem. – Art Young


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