Experts Cite Cybersecurity Concerns in 2020 Census

Cybersecurity experts are raising concerns about plans for the U.S. Census Bureau to use digital questionnaires for the first time in 2020, Time reports. Eleven former government cybersecurity employees demanded the Census Bureau and Department of Commerce outline any planned security measures in a letter coordinated by Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection. Concerns over data security have increased after revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, harvested data from as many as 87 million Facebook profiles and that Russians involved stole personal information on 500,000 voters from one state’s elections website in 2016.

Joshua Geltzer, a former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council, said he is worried not only about Russian entities, but also about “those who may be watching and learning from what Russia has been doing.” “The stakes are huge for this information,” he said, noting that information from the decennial census helps determine how many House seats and electoral college votes each state is allocated.The Government Accountability Office issued a report highlighting similar security concerns about the 2020 census in October 2017, to no avail. At a minimum, the Census Bureau should retain an outside cybersecurity firm to conduct an audit of the bureau’s plans to either publicly confirm they are satisfactory, or address their vulnerabilities, the cybersecurity letter-signers suggest.