Call it a 72-year time capsule, of sorts.
Individuals’ information given for the 2010 census will not be made available until 2082, according to census policy. Then the information will be added to the National Archives, which contains the records of other censuses dating back to the first in 1790.
This lockdown on the distribution of census data in forms other than aggregate findings is meant to protect the privacy of individuals and encourage participation. Once assembled, the aggregate data will be used to determine congressional representation and government services.
Touting this and other privacy measures, census officials are working to quell many people’s fears about confidentiality. The census forms ask for personal details such as the size of households, addresses, phone numbers and race.
Privacy “is one of the key messages we are stressing through our advertising,” said Lydia Ortiz, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Census Bureau Chicago Regional Office.
The advertisements are in 28 languages to ensure that they reach everyone in the city, Ortiz said, because privacy is a concern for many people.
According to Fr. Bruce Wellems, pastor of Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, 62 percent of people in the Back of the Yards neighborhood were not counted in 2000. Many residents, he said, are illegal immigrants afraid to hand over their names and addresses for fear of deportation. He added that each person not counted can result in $12,000 less of government funding for community services. So this year, Wellems is stressing the importance of being counted.
Another critical part of the “Be Counted” campaign is to let people know that no marketing organization or governmental agency has access to the personal data.
“The information stays strictly within the Census Bureau,” Ortiz said.