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What to Do When Census Questions Become Instrusive

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American Community SurveyThe Rutherford Institute

Pushing back against the US Census Bureau’s attempts to require American citizens—upon penalty of monetary fines—to complete the invasive American Community Survey (ACS), The Rutherford Institute has issued constitutional guidelines for individuals alarmed by the government’s use of the ACS to extract private information about their home life and personal habits.

Unlike the traditional census, which is limited to a simple head count every ten years for the purpose of establishing representation in Congress, the ACS is sent on an ongoing basis to about 3 million homes every year at a reported cost of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Individuals who receive the ACS must complete it or be subject to potentially significant monetary penalties. At 28 pages (with an additional 16-page instruction packet), the ACS contains some of the most detailed and intrusive questions ever put forth in a census questionnaire.

These concern matters that the government simply has no business knowing, including questions relating to respondents’ bathing habits, home utility costs, fertility, marital history, work commute, mortgage, and health insurance, among others. As Rutherford Institute attorneys point out, the real danger with the ACS is in not knowing why the information is needed, how it will be used by the government or with whom it will be shared.

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© 2017 The Rutherford Institute

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