- The "consensus" is growing--Census 2000 as
currently being conducted is certainly being done in violation of the law;
and this actually has nothing to do with those offensively intrusive questions
imposed by the current census. Different versions of the census have a
varying number of questions.
- No: this census may well be legally COMPLETELY INVALID
because specific notices and forms which federal law mandates MUST be included
in every census form (or similar type of information-gathering document/procedure),
as pursuant to the 1974 Privacy Act, have in fact NOT been included in
the census packages which U.S. residents have been told they are required
by law to respond to.
- Not only does this invalidate the current census but
it leaves the federal government open to billions of dollars in damages
and liabilities from lawsuits which can be filed by those who have already
responded to the census without the required Privacy Act notification.
- The Privacy Act makes specific provisions for legal remedies
on the part of those adversely affected in any way by the FAILURE of an
agency to provide such notifications.
- There could well be MASSIVE class-action lawsuits against
the federal government looming here, not to mention untold millions of
dollars wasted in implementing this clearly fatally flawed Census 2000.
- Un-freaking-beLIEVable! yet true.
- Well, all the more reason to follow our suggestion and
toss that Census 2000 form into the recycling bin. OR, maybe return it
to the Census Bureau, postage COLLECT: saying not only are you NOT responding
to the census but are considering legal action due to the Bureau's FAILURE
to inform you of their authorization, your rights, etc., as pursuant to
the Privacy Act of 1974 (codified in 5USC552a(e)(3)).
- NewsHawk® Inc. _____
- Subject: Illegal Census Forms - News Tip Date: 20 Mar
2000 19:00:03 -0000 From: lcs Mixmaster Remailer <firstname.lastname@example.org
- Many persons are concerned about the conduct of the 2000
census. Some of them are willing to risk fines for refusing to provide
the requested information. As it turns out, the Census Bureau itself is
violating federal law which may lead to an invalidation of the census and
the possibility of a huge governmental liability.
- The envelope which the Census Bureau is using to transmit
the forms for the 2000 census displays a printed admonition that a "response
is required by law."
- A census form (for example, Form D-1, "OMB No. 0607-0856:
Approval Expires 12/31/2000") and a form note (D-16A(L)) from Kenneth
Prewitt (Census Bureau director) dated March 13, 2000, are contained in
- While the census form includes a statement required by
the Paperwork Reduction Act, neither the form itself nor the note which
accompanies it provides the information which is required by the Privacy
Act of 1974 (codified in 5USC552a(e)(3)).
- (Section 552a, Title 5, United States Code, states, in
part: "(e) Agency Requirements.--Each agency that maintains a system
of records shall-- (3) inform each individual whom it asks to supply information,
on the form which it uses to collect the information or on a separate form
that can be retained by the individual-- (A) the authority (whether granted
by statute, or by executive order of the President) which authorizes the
solicitation of the information and whether disclosure of such information
is mandatory or voluntary; (B) the principal purpose or purposes for which
the information is intended to be used; (C) the routine uses which may
be made of the information, as published pursuant to paragraph (4)(D) of
this subsection; and (D) the effects on him, if any, of not providing all
or any part of the requested information.")
- (Subsection (g) states, in part: "(1) Civil Remedies.--Whenever
any agency ... (D) fails to comply with any other provision of this section,
or any rule promulgated thereunder, in such a way as to have an adverse
effect on an individual, the individual may bring a civil action against
the agency, and the district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction
in the matters under the provisions of this subsection." ... "(4)
In any suit brought under the provisions of subsection (g)(1)(C) or (D)
of this section in which the court determines that the agency acted in
a manner which was intentional or willful, the United States shall be liable
to the individual in an amount equal to the sum of-- (A) actual damages
sustained by the individual as a result of the refusal or failure, but
in no case shall a person entitled to recovery receive less than the sum
of $1,000; and (B) the costs of the action together with reasonable attorney
fees as determined by the court."
- (For purposes of Section 552a, the following definitions
apply: "(3) the term 'maintain' includes maintain, collect, use,
or disseminate; (4) the term 'record' means any item, collection, or grouping
of information about an individual that is maintained by an agency, including,
but not limited to, his education, financial transactions, medical history,
and criminal or employment history and that contains his name, or the identifying
number, symbol, or other identifying particular assigned to the individual,
such as a finger or voice print or a photograph; (5) the term 'system of
records' means a group of any records under the control of any agency from
which information is retrieved by the name of the individual or by some
identifying number, symbol, or other identifying particular assigned to
the individual; (6) the term 'statistical record' means a record in a system
of records maintained for statistical research or reporting purposes only
and not used in whole or in part in making any determination about an identifiable
individual, except as provided by section 8 of title 13.")
- Normally, federal agencies routinely provide the information
required by 5USC552a(e)(3) when requesting persons to provide personal
information. (Examples can be found on tax form instructions, passport
applications, and requests for public assistance.) Assuming that it is
as competent and knowledgeable as other agencies, the Census Bureau apparently
made a willful, intentional decision not to provide the required information
-- a clear violation of federal law. Illegally requiring persons to provide
private information to a federal government agency, when that agency by
its very action violates federal law enacted to regulate the government's
collection of such information and protect the rights of the people, creates
an obvious "adverse effect" on individuals and their privacy.
- Accordingly, if the current census form remains in use,
the federal government could be liable for massive lawsuits with a minimum
damage of $1,000 for each person affected -- potentially millions of persons,
billions of dollars (5USC552a(g)(4)(A)). In any event, since persons are
not required to comply with an illegal request by a government agency,
the 2000 census, as currently being conducted, is likely invalid.
- To correct this situation and allow a legal census to
be conducted, the Census Bureau must temporarily halt the census until
it comes into compliance with the federal Privacy Act. As a minimum, before
it continues the census, the bureau must provide all persons with the information
which is required by 5USC552a (paragraph (e)(3)), and afford them an opportunity
to retract any personal information which they may have given to the Census
Bureau prior to receiving the necessary Privacy Act notification.
- (N.B. Efforts to confirm that the 1990 census forms
contained the required Privacy Act information have been unsuccessful.)
- SIGHTINGS HOMEPAGE
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