Privacy and the Census

The U.S. Census depends on your cooperation and trust, and promises to protect the confidentiality of your information. Federal law protects your information, and the U.S. Census has developed policies and statistical safeguards to help follow the law and further ensure the confidentiality of your information. Title 13 of the U.S. Code in addition to other federal laws, including the Confidential Statistical Efficiency Act and the Privacy Act reinforce these protections.


Information Collection to Produce Statistics
Your information is collected to produce statistics. Your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.  The methods used to produce these statistics include an extensive review and analysis of all our data products, as well as disclosure avoidance methodologies such as data suppression and modification.

  • Disclosure Limitation Procedures
  • Suppression
  • Data Swapping
  • Protection of Microdata Files


Sworn for Life to Protect Your Confidentiality
All Census Bureau employees take the oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data.  Violating the oath is a serious crime and hold with it a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to 5 years, or both for the unlawful disclosure of any information.


Private information is never published
The U.S. Census Privacy Principles are guidelines that cover all of their activities. These principles encompass both their responsibilities to protect your information and your rights as a respondent. They apply to the information they collect and the statistics they publish.  It is against the law to disclose or publish any of the following information:

  • Names
  • Addresses including GPS coordinates
  • Social Security Numbers
  • Telephone numbers