Census 2022: Why is there an obligation to provide information, what is an inquiry

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Census 2022: Why is there an obligation to provide information about what can (not) be inquired about

How many people live in Germany? How many empty apartments? The census should show it. In the map: People at an event in Hannover in 2017, with a view of Erfurt in the background

© Editing: rös / stern / Picture Alliance

From Sunday, the country or population will be re-measured. Start of the 2022 Census. Questions and answers about the Great Census.

Germany calculates: from Sunday, the country’s residents will be re-registered. Census results should form a database for future policy decisions, such as public housing. The last population census was in 2011. Like all EU countries, Germany is obligated to collect new data on people in the country every ten years. In fact, it could have been last year, but due to the Corona pandemic, the census has been postponed to this year. Unlike the European Championship 2020, which was held in 2021, the number is also called the 2022 census.

Who is responsible for the 2022 census?

The statistical offices of the federal states and the federal government are responsible for the census. State offices conduct surveys, while the Federal Office is responsible for the necessary technical applications and provision of the IT infrastructure for data collection. The deadline is May 15, 2022.

What data is collected and how?

According to the Federal Statistical Office, the following data is collected:

  • Current population numbers
  • Data on demographics, i.e. age, gender or, for example, the nationality of the population
  • Data on living and housing situation such as average living space, vacancy or ownership rate

In contrast to the classical census, not the entire population of Germany was interviewed for the survey. Mainly data from administrative and population registers, supplemented by a random sample, are used. About ten million people were questioned in this survey. A full census of the halls of residence and collective housing is carried out, since they are not fully recorded in the records and often there is a high level of volatility. In addition, a census of apartments and buildings is conducted. Surveys should be conducted using online questionnaires as a standard.

Can I refuse scanning?

No. As part of the census, there is an obligation for citizens to provide information, which is caused by the 2022 Census Act. Anyone who does not provide incorrect or incomplete information or information commits an administrative offense and can be subject to a penalty or fine of up to 5,000 euros. This also applies if the information was provided too late or in an incorrect form.

Why the obligation to provide information? Does this violate the right to informational self-determination?

Informational self-determination is a special expression of the general right of personality in the Basic Law. According to the Federal Constitutional Court, it means the right to “limit the disclosure and use of personal data”. But: if there is a prevailing public interest in the processing of personal data, this right can be restricted by law. “This is the case with the census because data about the population and their living and working conditions is the basis for many important decisions in politics, business, and society,” according to the statistical offices.

Can anyone see my data in the future?

No data protection is also guaranteed by law. A confidentiality procedure is applied. Other statistical offices may also access the data “exclusively to perform their tasks under this law and the 2022 Census Preparation Law to the extent specified there,” according to the law.

The data published as a result should not make people identifiable, and it should not be possible to draw conclusions about individuals from them. However, the goal is to draw as many structural inferences as possible from the entire data. Personal data may not be transferred to other authorities such as tax offices.

According to statistical offices, personal information such as name and address is also deleted as quickly as possible, that is, it is not stored permanently. They serve organizational purposes, for example to avoid duplication.

What can be inquired about? And what not?

Only demographic and housing data mentioned above are collected. Data on personal income or vaccination status is not explicitly collected. Bank details, PIN numbers, passwords, credit card numbers, ID numbers or email addresses are also not required. Survey officials also don’t want to know when vacations are planned. Investigators do not come without warning. Official survey officers also have a corresponding identification card that legitimizes them. You can show this to you, it is only valid with an official photo ID (eg ID). You do not have to let the interlocutors into your apartment, you can also answer questions at the door.

sources: Census 2022 (1) (2), (3) Census Law 2022, BPB, Bundestag

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