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2020 U.S. Census

Confidentiality

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A key component of the United States census is a promise of confidentiality. The Census Bureau is required by law to protect any personal information they collect and keep it strictly confidential. The Census Bureau can only use your answers to produce statistics. In fact, 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 5 years in prison.

By law, your census responses cannot be used against you by any government agency or court in any way - not by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), not by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), not by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and not by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In addition, your census data cannot be used to determine your eligibility for government benefits.

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. 

Resource: The 2020 Census and Confidentiality