Protecting the 2020 Census from Fraud

The U.S. national census in 2020 will be the first to rely primarily on the Internet for collecting census data, thereby creating new avenues for fraud and disruption. A new report from the JASON scientific advisory panel describes the problem and outlines some solutions.

The report says, “Several distinguishable types of fraud against the census must be considered, including: hacking the census for fun or bragging rights; social media attempts to discredit the census and reduce cooperation; mimicry of the census forms or apps for purposes including phishing; city or district-level attempts to changes population numbers or distributions; large scale attempts to affect apportionment of the House of Representatives; individual mischief and anti-government protest.”

The JASON report, prepared for the U.S. Census Bureau, included several technical and procedural recommendations to impede fraudulent activity, to facilitate its detection, and to mitigate its consequences. The report is available at http://fas.org/irp/agency/dod/jason/census.pdf.

My thanks to Ashley Odell for telling me about the report.

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