A report (pdf) prepared by Mitre Corp. for the Census Bureau’s JASON scientific advisory panel said gathering census information electronically could leave the process at risk to fraud by hackers, pranksters and phishers. Particular concern should be paid to “large-scale, organized fraud,” according to the report, which “could pose a threat to the integrity of the census.” It also warned “the threshold for effectively manipulating the census process is surprisingly low.”
Census officials will use the Internet in the 2020 count in order to better reach “previously undercounted populations to improve accuracy,” according to Government Executive.
The Census Bureau plans to mail postcards to households containing an Internet link as text URL and scannable QR code. The postcard will include a unique identification that links the postal address to records maintained by the bureau.
Still, there are cybersecurity concerns raised by the JASON team. Their report said problems could surface because of “the Internet’s lower barrier of entry to the submission of fraudulent or mischievous forms, and the existence of a ‘hacker mentality’ that affects all things Internet. This suggests that some level of additional validation of non-ID forms is prudent, even if it goes beyond what was done in 2010.”
One thing the bureau isn’t concerned with is low-level mischief, such as someone declaring he’s “Seymour Butts of 6 E. Psycho…