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What You Need to Know About Census Confidentiality

From the Census Bureau:

Your responses to the 2020 Census are safe, secure, and protected by federal law. Your answers can only be used to produce statistics; they cannot be used against you in any way. By law, all responses to U.S. Census Bureau household and business surveys are kept completely confidential.

Your Census responses are safe and secure

The Census Bureau is required by law to protect any personal information we collect and keep it strictly confidential. The Census Bureau can only use your answers to produce statistics. In fact, every Census Bureau employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life. Your answers cannot be used for law enforcement purposes or to determine your personal eligibility for government benefits.

By law, your responses cannot be used against you

By law, your Census responses cannot be used against you by any government agency or court in any way. Not the FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, or ICE. The law requires the Census Bureau to keep your information confidential and use your responses only to produce statistics.

The law is clear – no personal information can be shared

Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about individuals, households, or businesses, even to law enforcement agencies. The law states that the information collected may only be used for statistical purposes and no other purpose.

To support historical research, Title 44 of the U.S. Code allows the National Archives and Records Administration to release Census records only after 72 years.

All Census Bureau staff take a lifetime oath to protect your personal information, and any violation comes with a penalty of up to $250,000 and/or up to five years in prison.

You can read more about the Census Bureau’s commitment to confidentiality here.