If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Ten Things about the Census

From NO2ID:

10 Census Lies

The propaganda push for the 2011 census has begun. NO2ID opposes this census because it represents the worst features of database state, the insatiable desire for ever more information, and the presumption that official purposes override privacy.
Here are the ten worst lies you will be told in the coming weeks:

1. The Census is essential for government and business planning

On the contrary, it is worse than useless because it is expensive, inaccurate, and quickly out of date.
One could also ask: what bloody planning?
2. Our Census data is trusted and respected worldwide

Even were this true, should we care? Most countries do have some sort of census, but would being respected at doing something essentially useless be worth more than £300 millio.

3. It's a great source for genealogy

100 or 200 years ago there was little record of most people's lives, and old censuses may be the only documents available. It is ludicrous to assume the same will apply in 100 years time, and outrageous to suggest it justifies spending public money.

4. It's 'good for employment', it provides jobs.

Temporary ones, Yet the money spent would otherwise be spent on something — probably something useful involving permanent jobs.

5. Census data is confidential for 100 years.

Not any more. Census forms are kept from the public for 100 years. But EU legislation allows the 2011 census to be shared with all 27 member states, and the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 created powers to share the information with public bodies, and "approved researchers".

6. The census results in high-quality information.

No one knows how many people lie in their return. The 2001 census is generally believed to have 'missed' around 900,000 men under 40.

7. Everyone should be proud of playing their part in the census.

There is no reason to be proud of being tallied like cattle. There is every reason to oppose the waste and the intrusion. There is a long history of public resentment of the census. In the 1800s census officers had to be given police protection; in 1911 the suffragettes boycotted it in protest; and in the 50s TV publicity told people it wasn't "another bit of snooping"

8. Communities can use census statistics to help gain recognition.

Whether a group is "officially recognised" is a political decision, not the same as individuals being located and categorised. 390,127 people recorded their religion as Jedi in 2001; they have yet to be officially recognised. More seriously, the Board of Deputies says the census underestimates British Jews, precisely because some of that community are nervous of officials knowing where they live.

9. Completing the census is straightforward, convenient and secure.

New questions are more intrusive than ever before, requiring details of employer's addresses, the details of any visitors to your house, and where they usually live. This is a direct danger to people who have sensitive occupations. The online version is a perfect cover for phishing attacks.

10. Your personal information is protected

Security is only as good as the shortest route to breaking it. Thousands of people will be involved, large commercial contractors and government agencies will process it, and the law newly provides that the data may be accessed for a variety of reasons, not just for making a statistical summary.
It cannot be guaranteed there won't be a security breach, or that data once captured will be used legitimately.

They cannot protect it; they shouldn't collect it.
I'm with the Jews on this one. If you have lived in a country where the State is actively hostile to you (for whatever reason), then the more they know about you, the more nervous you get. Old habits die hard. And while we have a nice, cuddly, caring-sharing, Centrist government now, who is to say what use future governments may make of the information? Can we guarantee that all future governments will be benign?

Point 8 is, I think, the main purpose. They want to get us all labelled and categorised so that, at some future time, certain approved groupings can claim recognition and funding. We won't be people, we will be 10% gay, 80% straight, and 10% other, or something. And then we will be asked why 10% of public funding isn't going to gay issues. Or that 60% claim that they are nominally Christian, so that my taxes can go to create faith schools (for, after all, if you allow Christian schools, you must allow all the others too).

That is the bit I won't co-operate with. They can have my name, address and date of birth, and nothing else. The rest is absolutely none of anyone else's business.

The only question is whether to leave those bits blank or get creative. I think I'm leaning towards creative at the moment.


  1. Already printed out and stuck up next to the front door!!

    I REALLY hope I'm at home when they come knocking...

  2. And, our helpful Government, using its Taxpayers' money if making that census form available in 56 different languages.

  3. One thought - if they are checking on population numbers (which to me is quite a legitimate request), then how are they going to count the illegal immigrants? They are hardly going to co-operate with a census, now are they? I've read an estimate that in the last 10 years there have been approximately 3m illegal immigrants, which is a significant proportion of the population which won't be allowed for in future 'planning'.


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