Census workers can enter your apartment in your absence. WTF?

This is news to me; most disturbing news. Census workers can come into your home in your absence to conduct a "count". Even more disturbing is that if the landlord refuses he can be fined.

Why isn't this page one news? It seems that our civil rights are in a state of decline.

The following article was authored by Bob Barr and appeared on ajc:

Census workers can enter your apartment in your absence

6:00 am May 26, 2010, by Bob Barr

Thousands of census workers, including many temporary employees, are fanning out across America to gather information on the citizenry. This is a process that takes place not only every decade in order to complete the constitutionally-mandated census; but also as part of the continuing “American Community Survey” conducted by the Census Bureau on a regular basis year in and year out.

What many Americans don’t realize, is that census workers — from the head of the Bureau and the Secretary of Commerce (its parent agency) down to the lowliest and newest Census employee — are empowered under federal law to actually demand access to any apartment or any other type of home or room that is rented out, in order to count persons in the abode and for “the collection of statistics.” If the landlord of such apartment or other leased premises refuses to grant the government worker access to your living quarters, whether you are present or not, the landlord can be fined $500.00.

That’s right — not only can citizens be fined if they fail to answer the increasingly intrusive questions asked of them by the federal government under the guise of simply counting the number of people in the country; but a landlord must give them access to your apartment whether you’re there or not, in order to gather whatever “statistics” the law permits.

In fact, some census workers apparently are going even further and demanding — and receiving — private cell phone numbers from landlords in order to call tenants and obtain information from them. Isn’t it great to live in a “free” country?

This is truly scary stuff.


  1. If it were true, this would, indeed, be absolutely shocking. However, it's not true. The language of the law basically allows the census workers to enter gated communities and apartment buildings to do their jobs--the law does not NOT authorize census workers to enter apartments or dwelling units themselves. Consider this comment from E Masters on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution website, where it appears that Barr originally published his commentary:

    "...The relevant language is at Title 13, Chapter 7, Subchapter II, § 223 of the US Code. The section prevents the owner or manger of “any hotel, apartment house, boarding or lodging house, tenement, or other building” from refusing to provide a list of the buildings occupants or providing access to “such premises”. This means a building’s owner or manger cannot refuse to let a census worker into or out of the building and cannot refuse to provide a list of occupants for the purpose of the census count. The penalty for refusal is $500. No where in the section does it authorize entry into individual apartments, lodgings, or “living quarters”.

    The relevant code section is found at:—-000-.html"

    I respect Mr. Barr for his principled libertarianism, but to all appearances, he's not very good at reading.

  2. Wow. I work for the Census Bureau, and this article is ridiculously false. If we can't get the information we need (not even the whole questionnaire) from the resident, we check with a neighbor/proxy and try again. We have no special permission to bust up into someone's home and take a count of people who aren't even home.

    I also don't appreciate the riot police photo in relation to this article.


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