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Defending Privacy Rights: The Battle Against the U.S. Census Bureau’s Intrusive American Community Survey (ACS).

The Rutherford Institute, a stalwart defender of individual privacy and constitutional rights, is once again challenging the U.S. Census Bureau's relentless pursuit of sensitive private information through the mandatory American Community Survey (ACS).

Championing Privacy Amidst Invasive Inquiries.

In its ongoing efforts to compile an exhaustive dossier on citizens and their properties, the Census Bureau has expanded the already intrusive ACS questionnaire. The proposed additions delve into the realm of personal disabilities, encompassing mental, psychosocial, cognitive, and speech impairments. Furthermore, the Bureau seeks to probe into households' possession of electric vehicles, utilization of solar panels, sewage disposal methods, and other intimate matters.

Pushback Against Unprecedented Intrusion.

Notably, the Bureau had previously considered including questions about sexual orientation and gender identity. The Rutherford Institute swiftly responded by submitting formal public comments, vehemently opposing the mandatory nature of ACS responses. The institute argued that the Bureau's tactics, laden with threats and intimidation, infringe upon the First Amendment by compelling speech and violate the Fourth Amendment's protection against govenment intrusion into privacy.

For those concerned about the Census Bureau's quest to amass and monitor private information, The Rutherford Institute offers updated "Constitutional Q&A: American Community Survey" guidelines. Additionally, the institute provides a formal complaint letter template for objecting to the ACS, empowering individuals to safeguard their privacy rights.

Navigating Constitutional Concerns.

Constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, the President of The Rutherford Institute, cautions against the potential abuse facilitated by the ACS. With the government wielding considerable technological resources for unwarranted surveillance and data harvesting, concerns arise about the misuse of information for profiling or mapping based on factors such as race or religion. Whitehead emphasizes the need for extreme caution when dealing with government programs like the American Community Survey, highlighting the program's seemingly benign nature while raising significant constituional concerns.

Decoding the American Community Survey (ACS).

The ACS, a monthly survey administered by the U.S. Census Bureau, serves as a pervasive tool for collecting detailed housing and socioeconomic data from approximately 3.5 million households annually. Recipients of the ACS are compelled to divulge extensive and sensitive information, ranging from work schedules and physical disabilities to the number of automobiles and access to communication services. Notably, the information provided is not anonymous, including details like name, age, sex, race, and home address, raising alarms about the potential misuse of such data.

Intrusiveness Beyond Questionnaires.

The ACS's intrusive nature extends beyond the questionnaire itself. The Census Bureau deploys field representatives to the homes of non-responsive individuals, creating an environment of harassment and intimidation. Reports indicate representatives waiting for hours, walking around homes, and even engaging with minor children in the absence of parents. The sheer volume of questions on the ACS, estimated to take an average of 40 minutes per household, has led many to initially perceive it as a phishing scam aimed at pilfering personal information.

Guarding Against Data Exploitation.

The Rutherford Institute underscores the potential dangers of the data collected by the Census Bureau through the ACS. With its non-anonymous, detailed nature, this information becomes a potential goldmine for criminal exploitation. The Institute urges individuals to be vigilant against unwarranted intrusions into their private lives and emphasizes the importance of safeguarding constitutional rights.


In the face of the U.S. Census Bureau's persistent efforts to pry into the private lives of citizens, The Rutherford Institute stands as a bulwark against unwarrented intrusions. Through legal advocacy and public education, the institute endeavors to protect individual privacy rights, urging citizens to be informed, vigilant, and proactive in asserting their constitutional protections against overreach.

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