The propaganda from the Office for National Statistics claims, falsely, that you must fill in your Census Form, so that the Government can "plan" the doling out of taxpayers' money for new hospitals or schools etc. The last 2001 Census and the mismanagement of public finances thereafter by the then Labour government, proves that this is claim is simply untrue.
However, in a time of budget cuts, due to the financial disaster caused by Gordon Brown and his Labour party colleagues, it is more likely that Census Information will be used to "justify" cuts in in budgets and services by the current Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government.
Anybody who believes that, for example, answering Question 13 "How is your health in general", will somehow magically lead to an increase in funding for their local National Health Service is utterly wrong.
is was technically illegal to complete your Census Form and send it by post or via the internet, before Sunday 27th March 2011, despite the Office for National Statistics propaganda.
This year's Census, unlike previous ones, no longer has absolute legal protection from the demands by other Government departments and agencies (including foreign government agencies) for the Sensitive personal Data which the Census Form requires.
See previous Spy Blog articles e.g. Indy Letters page - Glen Watson confirms lack of Census 2011 confidentiality legal powers
It is not that the Office for National Statistics will willingly compromise your individual privacy and security, they no longer have any legal powers to prevent individual or mass database trawling and copying by other Government agencies.
It is actually the British government which is more of a threat to your personal privacy and security, than the involvement of Lockheed Martin, the US defense contractor, a division of which is the prime contractor in this year's Census (they also did the 2001 Census).
Why make it easier for them to put your privacy and security at risk ?
Here are some suggestions for civil disobedience or just traditional British bloody mindedness when faced by bureaucratic red tape, or for pranksterish lulz, short of an outright refusal to comply with filling in the Census Form and returning it, under the threat of a criminal record and a fine of up to £1000.
Whether the extra manual work which these suggestions may cause has already been budgeted for, or whether it will marginally decrease the profits of Lockheed Martin, remains to be seen:
- "Accidentally" cut off the individual page tracking barcodes
- Do not use blue or black ink
- Use joined up writing
- Use "The Occupier" or other pseudonyms
- SQL Injection statements
- Return the Census Form in a non-windowed envelope
- Send some or all of your junk mail to ONS via FREEPOST
- Individual Census Forms
- Terrorism Act 2000 section 58A Eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of armed forces etc
- Partial Post Codes
- Data Protection Act 1998 section 10 Right to prevent processing likely to cause damage or distress.
- Tick all of the checkboxes
- Do Not Sign the Census Form
- Assert your own Copyright - All Rights Reserved, to your own Personal Information
- Return the Form as Late As Possible
- Do not cooperate with "non-compliance" spies
- Complete both a paper and a slightly different online web Census Form
Please feed back any further suggestions, either here in the (anonymous) blog Comments or via email to email@example.com (PGP encryption key available)
If enough people can cast doubt on the statistical validity of the Census, because of civil disobedience caused by its intrusive, security risking questions and the lack of legal assurance of absolute confidentiality from other government departmental snooping and data trawling, then perhaps then next Census will be radically shorter, simpler and less expensive.
Opening the Census Form envelope with scissors and somehow "accidentally" cutting off the bottom centimetre or so i.e. the white footer which contains the page numbers and the barcodes which individually identify each page.
The paper Census Form envelopes are to be semi-automatically slit open and then guillotined along the spine of the booklet to remove the metal staples, into separate A4 pages for the US made scanning equipment to cope with. Scanned page images can be stitched together electronically using this barcode (e.g. when a scanner jams or is stopped part way through an individual form) a system which was used in the 2001 Census.
However, this year, for the first time, the individual page barcode tracking is also to be fed in to the Questionnaire Tracking database to try to hunt down "non-compliance".
There are up to two barcodes at the bottom of each page - one is simply a pre-printed Page Number which appear on each side of each sheet e.g. 101001 for page 1, 101002 for page 2 etc. Presumably the scanner reads both sides of an A4 sheet at the same time, as the overprinted unique 10 digit barcode only appears on one side of each A4 sheet
Unlike many forms used by the financial industry e.g. credit card payment giro transfers etc. there are no instructions such as "Please do not write or mark below this line" protecting the individual page tracking barcodes at the bottom of each page.
By "accidentally" cutting off or overwriting these page tracking barcodes, you will cause the Lockheed Martin worker drones to have to do some manual work in checking the form.
Page 2 says "This questionnaire will be scanned by a computer"
The instructions say "you should" rather than "you must under penalty of prosecution".
Therefore, presumably, there is no penalty if you disobey this guidance, provided that you do technically fill in the Census Form.:
"use black or blue ink to answer"
Why should you ? For £500 million, they could and should have bought some colour scanners.
N.B. the project has actually spent £6.5 million on IBML ImageTrak IV (superceded last April 2010 by the ImageTrac 3exp model) scanners - see http://www.ibml.com and http://www.ibml-news.com/spring-2010/latest-news. IBML are based in Birmingham, Alabama, USA.
These sophisticated high volume scanners should be not be easily confused by non- black or blue ink.
Older scanning technology used to insist on pencil marks rather than ink.
In order to test the sophistication of the US technology and to give the bored Lockheed Martin employees in the Manchester Trafford Park data capture centre something to check manually, you could:
- Use a hard 4H ultra fine pencil (very thin lines) or a soft and smudgy 4B pencil or charcoal pencil.
- Use Red or Green ink - if you are colour blind, how can you be always expected to tell the difference from Blue ?
- Use Purple ink which closely matches the purple / mauve colour of the Census Form
- Use blood (animal or human ?) , as some of our readers are wont to do.
- Use a lot of ink e.g. a fountain pen, quill pen, permanent marker etc. so that the ink soaks through to the back pages
I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.
Patrick MacGoohan, The Prisoner tv series
Again, in order to make things more difficult and perhaps more expensive for the Office for National Statistics and Lockheed Martin, there is no reason why you should unnaturally force yourself to try to squeeze your handwriting into the boxes provided on the Census Form.
These could easily have been printed at twice the size they are, especially if there were far fewer Questions, just like both the USA and Canada have done with their most recent censuses.
Use joined up handwriting and do not feel guilty about your writing straying outside of the printed boxes.
e.g. Question 3 "What is your date of birth ?" could be answered, with joined up handwriting, just like on the old historical Census Forms as:
"First of April, Nineteen Eighty Four" rather than "01" "04" "1984" which is what they are trying to force you to do, for their benefit, not yours.
If the expensive and sophisticated Optical Scanning system cannot then automatically read what you have written, then so what ? Human operators will then have to manually read what you have written, something which may relieve the boredom of their temporary jobs.
Given that there is a barcode number and a unique random Personal Internet Access Code printed on the paper form , there should actually be no reason to fill in your Name correctly or legibly.
You are literally a number to the Census system, not a human individual and they will be using their specially improved, up to date property Address Register (which they intend to sell / give back to their private sector partners who helped to compile it) combined with the barcode and or the Internet Access Code to run a Questionnaire Tracking Database to target those people who have not returned a Census form.
Since they claim that they will never reveal your Personal Information, they cannot have any legitimate, statistical use for your Name, so it is not "necessary in a democratic society" as per the Human Rights Act 1998 / European Convention on Human Rights Article 8 Privacy
You could simply fill in some or all or your Census Form barcode number or the Personal Internet Access Code, in place of your real name.
Despite the efforts of the previous, authoritarian, Big Brother / Nanny State Labour Government and its now repealed Identity Cards Act 2006, it is still perfectly legal to use any Name that you wish, provided that you do not intend to defraud anyone. This is especially true for married women and those who use professional or stage names e.g.
The wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair is simultaneously, and perfectly legally known as either Mrs. Cherie Blair or , when acting as a barrister or Recorder (a type of Judge) in Court as Ms. Cherie Booth QC i.e her maiden name.
Perhaps there will be many people calling themselves "Spartacus" or "Luther Blisset" on this Census Form
You could choose to use the same pseudonym which the ONS used to successfully send you ("The Occupier") the Census Form. So in answer to Question H3: First Name: The and Last Name: Occupier
If you decide not to have an individual Census Form, then you could fill Question H3 with
First Name: Person Last Name: 1
First Name: Person Last Name: 2
First Name: Person Last Name: 3
First Name: Person Last Name: 4
First Name: Person Last Name: 5
First Name: Person Last Name: 6
If there , for example two people in a household, there is no reason that the second person should submit to being categorised as Person 2, they could choose to have say the Person 6 section filled in instead.
If the ONS have designed and tested their computer software properly, this should make no difference to the final statistics, but each cumulative act of disobedience to the Census Form, conveys your opposition to the intrusive bureaucracy, whilst staying within the letter of the law.
For those of you who work or play with databases:
In theory, if ONS have designed and security penetration tested their backend Oracle database systems correctly, as they claim to have done, there should be no problems caused by writing SQL Injection code
As part of your name or address fields etc.on either the paper Census Form or the Online web form.you could include text such as:
'drop table name (note the leading single quote character) or 'drop table address
Alternatively the faster and more permanent (because there is no Rollback)
'truncate table name or 'truncate table address etc.
You would need to guess or have a whistleblower insider (hint hint) reveal the actual database table names being used, for this to have a chance of working.
In the unlikely event that such commands are not filtered out and do actually cause any problems, either to the front end web servers or to the middleware application servers or to the backend database servers, or the output to microfiche systems, that means that these systems would also be vulnerable to unauthorised access and / or data modification hacking by insiders.
In such a case, then the individual managers and senior civil servants at the Office for National Statistics must be prosecuted under the Data Protection Act 1998, which they claim to comply with. They should also be prosecuted for misfeasance in public office.
The Royal Mail has been equipped with barcode scanners which will feed into the Questionnaire Tracking database by scanning the barcode through the cellophane window of the provided envelope.
However, as the form says, if you have lost the supplied envelope, you can simply write "FREEPOST 2011 Census, Processing Centre, UK" on any other, non-windowed envelope instead.
There are no instructions, or penalties, for returning the Census Form in a standard non-windowed envelope i.e. one where you have to fold the Census Form to fit (which will again cause the scanning systems some extra manual work).
If you are returning the paper Census Form , you could "accidentally" insert it into the pre-paid Freepost envelope so that the Questionnaire Tracking barcode is not visible through the cellophane window i.e. upside down or back to front.
You may be fed up with junk mail delivered by the Royal Mail, who are profiting from the Census Form contract. You could use the "FREEPOST 2011 Census, Processing Centre, UK" magic words to send the ONS some of of your junk mail, after carefully removing your name and address etc.
You could just fill the provided pre-paid Census Form Envelope with junk mail.
The Census Forms are meant to be pulped and disposed of in an environmentally friendly fashion, after they have been scanned onto encrypted disks and then output onto microfiche so perhaps they will be kind enough to do the same with your junk mail.
If you are fan of the CSI tv series, you may also decide to take precautions against leaving fingerprints, fibre, dust, hair or DNA samples or characteristic scissor tool marks, easily traced envelopes or other forensic evidence.
Back to List of Suggestions
Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Where is your brother Abel ?' Cain answered 'I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper ?' Genesis chapter 4, verse 9
Although much of the Census Data will be out of date even before it is analysed and published, some bits of it will remain valid and potentially dangerous to you and your family for the rest of your lives e.g. the information about your relationship with other members of your household.
This was not much of a problem in previous Censuses, but this time, it should be examined in the light of Speculative Familial DNA database trawling, a real technique which is often seen on the entertaining (if inaccurate) US television imports like CSI or NCIS. A partial match of some of the alleles in a DNA "fingerprint" can betray your brother or sister or mother or father, some time in the future.
On its own this is not enough to cause problems to the innocent, but if combined with access to the Personal Information relationship data from the Census Form, no matter how old, then whole families and tribes and ethnic groups will be put under suspicion unnecessarily.
If you demand and use Individual Census forms, then you do not have to betray or confirm any relationships between people over the age of 16 in the same household on Census Day.
If you are a current or even a former member of the Armed Forces, of the Intelligence Agencies (MI5 the Security Service, MI6 the Secret Intelligence Service or GCHQ) or a Police Constable, regardless of whether you have retired or have been fired in disgrace, you can take advantage of the authoritarian previous Labour government's stupidly worded anti-terrorism legislation..
The Census Form demands that you fill in your personal household name, address (including whether this is an "Armed forces base address"), date of birth and similar details about your family members ls (Questions It also demands details about your occupation or former occupation details i.e. "full and specific job title", brief description of what you do (did), main activity of your employer, name of the organisation you work (worked) for, address of your workplace, how you travel to work in Questions 32 to 40 and also the questions about your race / ethnic background and religion.
This is clearly falls under
58A Eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of armed forces etc
(1)A person commits an offence who--
(a) elicits or attempts to elicit information about an individual who is or has been--
(i) a member of Her Majesty's forces,
(ii) a member of any of the intelligence services, or
(iii) a constable,
which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or
(b) publishes or communicates any such information.
Part of the justification for this stupidly worded bit of law brought into force by the previous Labour government was one case which involved the specific targeting of Muslims serving in the British Armed Forces by terrorists, something which has also applied in the past to Catholic or Protestant members of the British Armed Force or Police in Northern Ireland.
There are several people in prison who only had access to the home address of a single soldier. Daniel Houghton was offering some of these details for about 35 of his former MI6 colleagues with even fewer details for perhaps a hundred MI5 colleagues for £2 million, which the authorities went along with in the sting operation which led to his arrest and prosecution under the Official Secrets Act 1989.
Interestingly, even Daniel Houghton, who had resigned from the Secret Intelligence Service MI6, before his treachery, is covered by this stupidly worded legislation as he is "an individual who is or has been"
This law also applies to "households" which include any members or former members of the the armed forces, police or intelligence agencies e.g. wives or children who work or have worked for these organisations, but where the "householder" who is filling ion the Census Form on their behalf does not fall into those categories.
Instead of answering these Questions, you could, if applicable, write on the Census Form something like::
"Office of National Statistics or Lockheed Martin subcontracted employees face up to 10 years in prison under the "Terrorism Act 2000 section 58A Eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of armed forces etc" for demanding this information"
N.B. there is an as yet untested reverse burden of proof legal defence
(2) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that they had a reasonable excuse for their action.
but that only applies once proceedings have reached a Court, after someone had been arrested, fingerprinted, DNA samples, photographed, charged and prosecuted for this Serious Crime.
Back to List of Suggestions
If it is good enough for sitting Members of Parliament to hide the exact locations of their Constituency homes or second or third homes from the public, when they stand for re-election, there is no reason to give the exact Street Address and Post Code on the Census Form, either for your employer's address.
This is especially true for Post Codes allocated to large employers e.g.
New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service, Broadway, London, SW1H 0BG
Police constables ( and civilian employees) would be well advised to just use the Post Town and the first 2 to 4 digits of their employer's Post Code on the Census Form i.e. simply, London, SW1H
The Outward Post Code i.e. the first 2 to 4 digits, consisting of the "postcode area of one or two letters, followed by one or two numbers, followed in some parts of London by a letter." is more than ample for any possible Transport or other infrastructure planning which the aggregated Census statistics may ever be used for.
Remember that the Census Address Register database and the Questionnaire Tracking database already have your household Address and Post Code, which the Census Form does not ask you to fill in, regardless of the mistakes which they have already made e.g. not sending a Census Form at all to some properties, or sending a Census Form to a non-human Pay and Display machine in a Car Park near Bournemouth.
There is almost certainly a full Post Code printed on the top left of the front page.
You should obscure this either entirely, or just the Inward Post Code section i.e. the rightmost 3 digits which zoom in on your street or building.
Data Protection Act 1998 section 10 Right to prevent processing likely to cause damage or distress.
The Data Protection Act 1998 section 10 Right to prevent processing likely to cause damage or distress was introduced to combat abuse by "junk mail" direct marketers etc.and to try to correct some of the cockups caused by negligence and incompetence by Data Controllers.
(1)Subject to subsection (2), an individual is entitled at any time by notice in writing to a data controller to require the data controller at the end of such period as is reasonable in the circumstances to cease, or not to begin, processing, or processing for a specified purpose or in a specified manner, any personal data in respect of which he is the data subject, on the ground that, for specified reasons--
(a)the processing of those data or their processing for that purpose or in that manner is causing or is likely to cause substantial damage or substantial distress to him or to another, and
(b)that damage or distress is or would be unwarranted.
(3) The data controller must within twenty-one days of receiving a notice under subsection (1) ("the data subject notice") give the individual who gave it a written notice--
(a) stating that he has complied or intends to comply with the data subject notice, or
(b) stating his reasons for regarding the data subject notice as to any extent unjustified and the extent (if any) to which he has complied or intends to comply with it.
There are many groups of people for whom the "data processing" of their personal data on the Census Form will cause Damage or Distress. e.g.
- The people (or their relatives) who survived the Nazi holocaust or other more recent Database State assisted genocides e.g. in Cambodia, Rwanda or Bosnia
The Scottish version of the Census Form specifically has tick boxes for Gypsy / Irish Traveller or Polish ethnicity. This is insulting and distressing to those people who have family members who suffered racial discrimination and genocide as a result of the Censuses taken by the Nazis from the conquered countries of Europe during World War 2. It is irrelevant that the current Census is not intended for use as an aid to genocide, it could be so be used in the future, just like the Censuses in Europe of the 1930's were in the past.
- Pacifists and anti-American activists who object the involvement of the Lockheed Martin defence contractor in the UK Census at all. Thee major data privacy risk comes not from their involvement, but from the data sharing exclusions which exempt other British government departments and agencies from any legal action by the ONS to prevent them from exercising their own data grabbing legal power.
- People who need to keep their names and addresses secret, because of real or perceived threats of violence or blackmail against them or their families. Apart from the current and former members of the Armed Force, Police Constables and members of the Intelligence Services mentioned above under the Terrorism Act 2000 section 58A, there are plenty of other categories of people at risk e.g.
- Judges and prosecutors in Terrorist or major Serious Organised Criminal Gang trials,
- Prison governors and warders,
- People in Witness Protection Schemes,
- Battered wives or girlfriends hiding from violent ex-partners or stalkers, etc.
- Judges and prosecutors in Terrorist or major Serious Organised Criminal Gang trials,
Just write to the Data Controller quoting the "Data Protection Act 1998 section 10 Right to prevent processing likely to cause damage or distress" and they must reply within twenty one days.
The Data Controller for the Census is "The Statistics Board", a member of which is Jil Matheson, the National Statistician (whose signature appears on the front of the Census Form)
The entry on the Information Commissioner's Office's Register of Data Controller#is :
Registration Number: Z1404686
Date Registered: 18 July 2008 Registration Expires: 17 July 2011
Data Controller: STATISTICS BOARD
OFFICE FOR NATIONAL STATISTICS
UK STATISTICS AUTHORITY
You will need to send a letter in writing, rather than via email, but unlike a Data Protection Act Subject Access request, there is no fee to be paid.
The paper Census Form, can, of course be filled in with all of the checkboxes ticked, rendering the intrusive snooping data statistics useless.
The Online Web Form, attempts to force you to complete every Question and it offers two standard web form methods of completing multiple choice answers. You are forced to make a Radio Button choice for say, Question,.
However, in spite of the ONS claims that it has been properly tested and designed, controversial Questions like Question 20 on religion, use checkboxes and allow you to fill in at least one or all of them.
In some respects, this is the most important section of the Census Form to obfuscate, for the simple historical fact that the Nazis used the naive and innocent answers about race and religion by grandparents in 19th century censuses, as the basis for the targeting of their descendants for persecution and genocide of Jews and Gypsies in the 20th century. Even if you trust the current government, what about future ones ?
There is a personal security risk in physically signing a paper form, which will be image scanned and stored on a database.
The Land Registry had to take offline from the world wide web their image scans of Property Deeds, because the personal details, address details and scanned signatures were being used by criminals to forge fraudulent property transfers mortgage applications.
Given that the Questionnaire Tracking system does not care about you as a human being, there is no need for you to put your real signature to the paper Census Form.
If you feel that you have to sign, then you should use a unique signature and / or pseudonym, very different from your usual signature, so that any future abuse of this image by corrupt insiders, will be obvious, and will not put your finances at risk.
The Online Census web form has no method for using a cryptographic Digital Signature.
They assume that the individual Internet Access Code printed on the front of the Census Form, is somehow sufficient.
Interestingly, you can partially complete the Online Census Form, and save your Answers to the Questions and resume at a later date.
However if you do not complete the final step to Submit the for, your complete or partially complete Answers will be automatically submitted when the website closes some time in May 2011.
There fore there is no need to cooperate with the ONS and actually "sign" / submit the Census Form electronically.
Obviously you do not need to provide a telephone number on the front cover either.
The attempts by the Office for National Statistics to claim that they actually own your Sensitive Personal Data is a creepy legal nonsense.
They may own the Copyright, or rather Crown Copyright may apply, to their own scanned Census Form images and data processed databases, but they must not be allowed to pretend that they have any property rights over your name or address or any of the other information which you may choose to supply to them.
This attempted expropriation, without financial compensation, of the ownership of your personal data can probably be challenged under the Human Rights Act / European Convention on Human Rights.
Remind these overzealous bureaucrats that you , "The Occupier" / barcode number / Real Name etc. retain Copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved, not them.
Similarly, ONS have no legal rights to the perhaps Trademarked Names of companies or organisations mentioned in the Employment Questions section.
They must not be allowed to give away for free or to sell name and address lists, or lists of job title cross referenced with company names or geographical addresses or post codes etc.
There is no legal obligation to rush to complete the Census Form immediately
The million or so responses which ONS claim to have already received before the official Census Day on Sunday 27th March 2011 are technically illegal - how do you know, for sure, exactly who will be even alive then ?
presumably the ONS and Lockheed Martin consortium systems will be geared up for an initial peak demand , in the week after Census Day.
If you delay until say mid-April, they may have to retain extra temporary staff and computer infrastructure for longer than planned.
This could lead to reduced profits by Lockheed Martin, especially if they have to send out human "non-compliance" spies to visit your address
Post your Census Form (either inserted backwards so that the Tracking Barcode is not visible or in a different Freepost addressed envelope without any cellophane window) on , say 6th April or later.
Back to List of Suggestions
You may be unlucky enough to be "followed up" by the temporary army of "non-compliance" spies have been recruited by the Office for National Statistics. They will start to work from lists of addresses compiled from the Questionnaire Tracking database , from about 6th April onwards until May.
In previous years the "Census Takers" used to visit your home and actually fill in the form for you, presumably because of higher levels of illiteracy amongst the population.
This is now considered too expensive and , very obviously, far too intrusive and the army iof temporary workers are supposedly only there to help vulnerable members of the public or those wiithout adequate English (or Welsh) language skills.
Several Local Councils and Police Forces have already issued warnings about "bogus census callers", who are likely to use the opportunity for "distraction burglaries" or intimidation of vulnerable people at the doorstep. If you are suspicious of such door to door callers, then call the Police.
Most of the 38 prosecutions for "non-compliance" after the 2001 Census were against people who threatened or abused visiting Census Takers, so provided that you are polite, or simply tell them that the "Census Form is in the mail", they will go away satisfied that they have done their low paid, temporary job.
Much more likely is that they will simply post a card through your letterbox claiming that they tried to contact you , but that you were out.
All they are supposed to do is to "remind" people to complete or return their Census Forms and to act as a conduit for new copies of Census Forms if required by people who feel that they must cooperate with the Census (probably the majority of people)
If you are unlucky enough to be confronted by one of these temporary workers, especially ones who may have been sent to "investigate" your "non-compliance", remember that they have no legal powers to demand your Name etc. or to enter your property.
You should be able to add to the confusion of the Office for National Statistics bureaucracy and to the human intervention extra processing costs to the Lockheed Martin consortium, by taking advantage of both the paper and the onliine web site versions of the Census Form.
- Make sure that you provide slightly different details in each version. e.g. Occupation: "Environmental Health Pest Control Officer" on one version, but "Rat Catcher" onthe other.
- Change your Ethnicity slightly between the two versions, especially if you are not a pure blood vampire or aryan race supremacist
- Do not sign the the paper version.
- Do not complete the final "submit" step on the online web form - your saved Answers to the Questions will be automatically submitted when the website is closed down.
- Remember to use Tor or other techniques to hide your IP Address and web browser details etc. from the online Census Form web server logfiles.