How to sign up for the census and stay safe online

By Jay Hammel

The Constitution mandates that the U.S. takes count of its population once every 10 years, administered by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Each home should’ve received an invitation asking residents to fill out a secure, quick, and easy questionnaire via online, by phone, or by mail.

Participating in the census is required by law and an accurate response is essential to helping communities and businesses make data-driven decisions that grow the economy.

According to The 2020 Census and Confidentiality fact-sheet, more than $675 billion in federal funding flows back to states and local communities each year based on census data impacting health care, senior centers, jobs, political representation, roads, schools, and businesses.

Getting a precise calculation can be troublesome because older generations may not be as tech-savvy, or trust online databases with their information. 

Tony and Jean Mathias, 85, from Potsdam, New York, have been around long enough and still to this day have not gained confidence for the worldwide web.

“The internet includes a Facebook and I don’t trust that at all. I’m not gullible,” Jean Mathias stated.

“The emails I get all the time are a bunch of nonsense. I don’t trust any of it. None whatsoever,” Tony Mathias said.

Michael J. McCabe, 1980 graduate of Missouri Institute of Science and Technology, has 37 years of experience in the IT and Telecommunications fields, He is the director of IT services for Quincy University.

McCabe anticipates the website people will use to participate in the census to be trustworthy.

“In light of the fact that they have a .gov website that is tightly controlled and it starts with https: vs http which means it is encrypted, and everyone is mailed unique 12 digit code to sign in with, I expect it to be pretty safe,” McCabe said.

As stated in The 2020 Census and Confidentiality fact-sheet, the Census Bureau is required by law to protect any personal information they collect and keep it strictly confidential, by using your answers to produce statistics.

In regards to the 2020 census, McCabe was able to provide basic internet security measures people leary of the internet can take every day.

“Always keep your operating system up to date as well as your virus protection,” McCabe stated. “Ensure anytime you are inputting personal data it is to a website that starts with HTTPS vs HTTP. HTTPS stands for HyperText Transport Protocol Secure, similar to VPN but of different methodologies it allows information to be moved across the web without its being eavesdropped on or tampered with.”

The 2020 census will mark the 24th time that the country has counted its population since 1790.

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