UK Census 2011 contract awarded

US defence contractor Lockheed Martin has been awarded the £150m contract to manage the 2011 Census in the UK. Lockheed, which was competing with T-Systems for the bid, ran the 2001 Census. The bid process wasn’t without incident; early doubts around the reliability of automated document scanning systems, and the feasibility of online or even SMS return of Census forms had to be addressed through technology trials, and Lockheed was challenged after claims that the Census data would be subject to the US Patriot Act and might therefore have to be disclosed if the US government demanded so.

The Census has always been seen as the epitome of best practice in personal data management: its entire model depends upon individuals trusting the government not to misuse the data provided, otherwise mass dissent would follow (i.e. even more than us turning into a nation of Jedi Knights). The Office of National Statistics has always had an extremely good reputation for respecting personal data, particularly relative to certain other public sector bodies, so it will be interesting to see how they face up to the challenge of maintaining that reputation now that public awareness of data loss incidents has peaked.

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I don't want my private details made available to the US government. I'm definitely not a US citizen & wouldn't want to be so I object to any theft of personal information by Lockheed-Martin. Regardless of their obligations ref. the Patriot Act I think Lockheed will covertly provide data by incorporating a "trojan horse" in the census software. They'll do it anyway 'cos their motto is "We never forget who we're working for." Since most of their work is for the US government - enough said ! For this reason I will not be taking part in the UK census. Privacy for me is very important & the US government will never convince me to submit to their mania for people data collection. And before you ask .....No I have no intention of visiting the "US of A" !