SAN MATEO (03/27/2000) - U.S. CENSUS 2000 is now grossly violating our privacy rights.
And what I want to know is where are the Internet's privacy paranoids now that we need them.
The American Civil Liberties Union (www.aclu.org) suffers a sanctimonious snit whenever some Internet site asks your ZIP code, but it will overlook a gross privacy invasion such as Census 2000 when it suits its ideology.
That's par for the ACLU, but where are the rest of you privacy paranoids?
Census 2000 came alive for me last week walking up the road to our farm in Maine.
A stranger leaned out a car window and asked, "How many live up there?" Then he handed me an envelope from the Bureau of the Census.
The envelope contained a 40-page booklet of questions, which I'm required to answer under U.S. Code Title 13 (www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/13).
I'm among one in six Americans getting a long form.
The ACLU actually demands that the feds project my long-form answers into statistics for my short-form neighbors (www.aclu.org/congress/l020899b.html).
I'm not supposed to worry because, "No one other than Census Bureau staff can see your form or find out what you tell us -- no other government agency, no court of law, NO ONE." Sure.
Were I to answer my 56 questions, plus 33 for each family member, I wouldn't want them seen by census employees.
Nor by anyone willing to break into mailboxes. Nor by employees of the United States Postal Service. Nor by Clinton-Gore operatives in another of those White House file snafus.
Inside my securely sealed envelope would be the names of everyone living with me and details including their telephone numbers, sex, age, race, marital status, education, ancestry, languages, birthplaces, medical conditions, disabilities, employment, automobiles, wages, tips, other income, public assistance, mortgages, value of their homes, and much more.
The ACLU sued the feds because 56-bit encryption is not protection enough for our privacy on the Internet.
Fine, but then why encourage those same feds to gather private information through the mail in completely unencrypted paper envelopes that are conspicuously marked as census data?
Congressional representation is the first reason to fill out census forms.
But the Bureau gives a second, "more important" reason, which is that people "who answer the census help their communities obtain federal and state funding [of more than $180 billion per year]."
A third reason is a $100 fine for failing to respond. Answer falsely, $500.
Now, if the Marxism that's present in the U.S. Census 2000 doesn't offend, how about the racism?
The long form asks if you are part Spanish, Hispanic, Latino, Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, white, black, African American, Negro, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Native Hawaiian, Guamanian, Chamorro, Samoan, other Asian, other Pacific Islander, or some other race.
Is this "institutional racism" or what?
Why is the ACLU not paranoid about Census 2000 long forms?
Because census data is used to justify growth of government and to redistribute the wealth of our nation's people.
This suits the ACLU ideology, which is, to paraphrase Karl Marx, take from each by force of law according to his abilities and give to each according to his needs and race.
I don't suggest you violate laws by not answering these questions. That would be wrong.
But how could they fine me for writing that I'm actually North Atlantican? And because scientists say we're all descended from a woman in Kenya, I can also check the box for African American.
Privacy paranoids revolt. Start at www.census.gov.
Call (800) 471-9424 early and often. If you received a long form, be difficult and ask for a short form, or vice versa.
Technology pundit Bob Metcalfe is a Norwegian-Norwegian-English-Irish Native African Femian American who earned less than $999,999 last year and was not last week temporarily absent from www.infoworld.com/metcalfe.