Will the Census Bureau share your personal information?

Mike Riggs Contributor
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It has before, according to the Miami Herald:

• During the Civil War, the bureau provided maps annotated with 1860 census data to Union Gen. William T. Sherman, who used them to launch a war not on the Confederacy’s army but on its civilian population. The most infamous product of the Census Bureau’s assistance was Sherman’s march from Atlanta to the sea, a 300-mile swath of looting and destruction that would properly have been labeled a war crime if the Japanese or German armies had done it in World War II. Not that Sherman lost his table manners: Afterward, he sent a polite note thanking the Census Bureau for its maps and research. “Without them, I would not have undertaken what was done.”

• Early in the 20th century, the Census Bureau was virtually a field office of the Justice Department. Census data was used to help catch draft dodgers during World War I and to help round up left-wing immigrants for deportation during the Palmer Raids of the 1920s.

• In 2002 and 2003, the Census Bureau helpfully sent the Department of Homeland Security lists of ZIP Codes with high concentrations of Arabs, broken down by country of origin. But don’t worry! Homeland Security says it just wanted the information so it could make better airport signs.

• Most notoriously, the Census Bureau was at the heart of the internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans (two-thirds of them U.S. citizens) during World War II — and not at all reluctantly. Within five days of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the bureau had issued three reports using 1940 census data to pinpoint the Japanese-American population by state, city and county.