A census is a kind of inventory, only that no goods in the warehouse are counted, but data on the living situation in Germany is also collected. All EU member states are obligated to conduct the census, which will take place every ten years and has been postponed from 2021 to 2022 due to the Corona pandemic.
The so-called censuses have always been controversial. The census of 1987 in the Federal Republic of Germany, against which there were civil protests and boycotts, is especially controversial. This census was originally supposed to take place in 1981, but was finally banned by the Federal Constitutional Court because the questions allowed conclusions to be drawn about the identity of the defendants.
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Why is there a census?
The Federal Statistical Office justifies the need for the census by saying that it helps politicians plan for the future. How many new apartments does Berlin need? Where should the new nurseries be built in Freiburg? The federal government, states and municipalities use population statistics as the basis for planning – which should be as up-to-date as possible.
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The data is mainly used from current administrative records. However, since some of them are incomplete and out of date, the census is taken as a complement. In 2022, about 10.3 million randomly selected people (this equates to just over ten percent of Germany’s population) will be affected.
Additionally, there are 23 million living space owners who have to provide information on net rents and reasons for vacancies.
There are clearly some loopholes in the survey, Lorenz Maroldt reported in Tagesspiegel’s Checkpoint newsletter.
Census 2022: How can I participate and where is the online survey?
Anyone who must participate in the 2022 census will be required to do so by letter. Questions can be answered either online or postage paid. Anyone can view the various online surveys, even without accessing the data.
Respondents are given a deadline; Deadlines can vary between federal states and collection agencies.
A part of the population is also directly interrogated. These interviews are conducted by volunteers in person and on a pre-announced date, either at the door or online.
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Obligation, refusal, false information: what punishment can be expected?
According to the 2022 Census Act, anyone who receives the letter with questions about the census is obligated to provide the information. Incorrectly completed questionnaires should be noted with a reasonableness check. Those who do not answer will be asked several times to answer the questions. Finally, anyone who provides incorrect, incomplete or untimely information can be liable to pay a fine. Payment of the fine will not be due until after the period has elapsed. Fines are a possible later penalty.
The amount of fines and penalties is determined by the federal states. In Berlin and Brandenburg, the fine starts from 300 euros. Possible fines across the country of up to 5,000 euros.
What data must be provided?
Demographic data is required, eg age, gender or nationality. There are also questions about the living and housing situation, for example the number of family members.
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What exactly does the census provide?
It is about the view of Germany from above. Individual attitudes play no role in the census. are collected:
- Current Population
- Data on the age, sex or nationality of the population
- Data on living and housing status such as average living space, vacancy or ownership rate
frankly not It is collected, among others:
- Social security number
- vaccination status
Why does the 2022 census also ask about apartments?
The 2022 census also includes a census of buildings and apartments for their owners. Reason: Germany does not have a consolidated administrative register for the national stock of apartments and buildings.
How is my data protected?
According to the Federal Statistical Office, the transmission of questionnaire data over the Internet meets “the highest security standards according to the specifications of the Federal Office for Information Security”. Federal and state statistical offices want to make sure that no unauthorized people have access to data that has yet to be identified.
The data must be evaluated anonymously. No individual cases were presented in the treatment. Results are expected to be available in November 2023. Data will be deleted by May 2026 at the latest.
Criticize the level of data protection
As described above, the Federal Statistical Office claims that the “highest security standards” will apply to the 2022 census. However, criticism of data protection has emerged since then. Heise online and kuketz-blog.de, which specializes in data protection and IT security, have criticized the collaboration between the census website and the US service Cloudflare.
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Cloudflare aims to ensure that hacker attacks are repelled on the enumeration site and this process can also take place under maximum load – many users on the site. The company has some of its servers located in the United States. Could the data therefore flow into the United States of America in the 2022 census?
First of all, the data protection announcement on the census website did not report cooperation with Cloudflare. In the meantime, this shortcoming was addressed under the subheading “Using a Content Delivery Network”. The Federal Statistical Office confirmed online that only European Cloudflare servers will be used.
In addition, according to the data protection declaration issued by the Federal Office and information received from the company, Cloudflare will not be able to access sensitive data that census participants are required to disclose after logging in to the survey area, such as name, place of residence and gender. According to the Federal Statistical Office, this data is encrypted end-to-end and is only processed on federal servers in Germany.