Archive for April, 2012

So, finally, my ACS harrassment seems to have ended.  While as recently as April 3 I was still receiving the “out of area” hang-up phone calls (ie, no one left a message), they have since stopped.  (Yay.)

Unfortunately, however, there are some people who are just too helpful.  On March 31st, after 8pm, my doorbell began ringing and pounding on the door commenced as well.  Unfortunately, my neighbor’s elderly mother had been taking out her trash and the ACS worker began pumping this elderly Ethopian lady for information.  (My neighbors had been warned about this, but my neighbor hadn’t told her mom, who was visiting.)  I ended up screaming through the door at the ACS worker.  So, all they have is a name (incorrect), an approximate age (incorrect), number of people in my household (unverified) and a vague racial category (incorrect).  They sent a different ACS worker back the next weekend, who tried to interrogate another neighbor, who shut the door in his face.  (THANK YOU!) 

Major FAIL.  Just don’t play.  Don’t answer, don’t talk, do not engage.  If you live in a single family home, shred all documents before putting them out for trash pickup.  They are known to go through garbage/recycling.  If you receive an ACS form, scrub your web information, including job networking sites.  If you know someone who has received Census ACS greetings, encourage them to think about it and do research prior to participating.  Contrary to Census assertions, we are a free country and citizens DO NOT have to open the door to any gov’t employee wandering by.  If I do not wish to associate with you, I don’t have to.  (Census is not law enforcement, and they have NO RIGHT to trespass if the property owner makes it clear they are not welcome and will not be tolerated.)

The limited data they think they have is USELESS.  It is not correct.  There is no way to put ANY of the ACS data through a quality-control process.

Any data that cannot be checked for accuracy is useless, thereby making any reports using ACS data pretty much equally useless.

The Census Bureau has, according to the GAO, exceeded it statutory authority with the ACS.  Sooner or later, someone with some authority will actually slap this rogue agency back into compliance with both Federal statute and Constitutional limits.  May that day be soon.


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Back in 2006, CB was ready to roll out the American Community Survey after almost a decade of fiddling around with the program.  In order for any Federal agency to maintain databases with PII (personally-identifiable information), the Privacy Act requires a Federal Register notice outlining the purpose, scope, and protections for each PII database.  The full notice can be viewed here

However, this notice exposes the deficencies of the ACS database.  The Privacy Act requires that databases containing PII (Personally Identifiable Information) use an identifier that is separate from any PII to maintain the data.  Contrary to statutory requirements, the ACS Privacy Act notice clearly states that the ACS database will maintained by NAME and ADDRESS.  Additionally, there are no restrictions on the computers, cds, portable drives, etc. on which ACS data is stored.  This means ACS data could be on any computer with internet or wireless capabilities, unencrypted cds or portable drives, cloud accessible computers, etc.

If you aren’t scared now, you have never been a victim of id-theft, or have never worked with secured data.  I have.  The holes in this system you could pilot the space shuttle (if we had any operational ones left) through.  There have already been multiple thefts of Census Bureau notebooks & drives, and postings of ACS data on PUBLIC websites by employees.

“Your data is secure.”  Yeah, and I’ve got a bridge in some swampland that’s selling cheap as well. 

The data is IN NO WAY secure.  Unless Census starts taking PII security seriously, no sane person would ever fill this form out.  Look, I’m actually not an IT security person, but I do understand the difference between secure and unsecured data.  I can also find no evidence of who can look at or manage the PII data– Census Bureau FTEs only?  Contractors with security clearances?  Do the ACS employees have HSPD12 (cleared) credentials?  Their laptops seem to be wireless– what kind of connections are they running?  What kind of security does the data they do get in the field have, if any?

Again, just don’t even play.  This is identity theft waiting to happen.



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