It's time to mail back that 2010 Census form, if you haven't already.
The Census is the national snapshot of who we are and where we are. An accurate count determines our political representation at the national level and helps draw political boundaries for other races.
Forget the paranoid fantasies -- there is no good reason for failing to participate. The Census is not going to sic the Feds -- or anyone else -- on you.
It's against the law to disclose or publish any significant information derived from the Census, including names, addresses (including GPS coordinates), Social Security numbers and telephone numbers. Even the Patriot Act does not trump Census confidentiality, according to the Justice Department.
A few years ago, the Census Bureau sent ZIP code information about Arab-American neighborhoods to the Department of Homeland Security. That raised legitimate concerns, but the information was widely available elsewhere, including the Internet. No confidential or individual information was disclosed.
Afterward, the Census Bureau created a chief privacy officer to increase confidentiality.
Today, penalties for unlawful disclosure are tough -- up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
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