Census GPS-tagging your home's front door
Coordinates being taken for every residence in nation
Posted: May 05, 2009
8:32 pm Eastern
By Bob Unruh
According to an online Yahoo program, the Global Position System coordinates for the White House, probably one of the best-known publicly owned buildings in the world, are 38.898590 Latitude and -77.035971 Longitude. And since you know that, it's no big deal for the White House to know the coordinates for your front door, is it?
Some people think it is, and are upset over an army of some 140,000 workers hired in part with a $700 million taxpayer-funded contract to collect GPS readings for every front door in the nation.
The data collection, presented as preparation for the 2010 Census, is pinpointing with computer accuracy the locations and has raised considerable concern from privacy advocates who have questioned why the information is needed. The privacy advocates also are more than a little worried over what could be done with that information.
Enhancing the concerns is the Obama administration's recent decision to put White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in an oversight role over the census, which will be used to determine a reapportionment of congressional seats and could be used to solidify a single political party's control over the nation, its budget, military and future.
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Commerce Secretary Gary Locke recently told the Washington Post: "The census director reports to me, and, of course, I serve at the pleasure of the president." He added the White House told him "it has no interest in politicizing [the census]."
But at American Daily Review, blogger Douglas Gibbs had more than a few doubts.
"GPS coordinates of your front door will make it easier for the government to monitor you," he said. "The U.S. Census Bureau is simply an excuse – a harmless looking means of obtaining the front door coordinates. The creation of GPS coordinates for front doors has nothing to do with the census, in all honesty, no matter how much the United States government tries to convince you that it does."
He recalled wondering why, just weeks ago, the Obama administration announced its oversight of the census, "literally taking control of the census away from the Commerce Department."
He put that together with Obama's longtime push for national service.
"The Obamites, thirsty to serve their new messianic figure, have lost enough of their objectivity to be willingly recruited into such an insidious program like gaining these coordinates for the U.S. government. … I ask again, what would be the purpose of shooting the GPS coordinates of American doorways?" he wrote.
The answer he provided was alarming.
"Imagine, if you will, that there are a number of people in a neighborhood that could not find the addresses they are tasked with finding. They are not locals, maybe are unable to read a map, or perhaps do not have the time to pull out a map, and they need to find you with specific GPS coordinates. Their devices would lead them to your front door with these coordinates. Imagine a crisis is afoot, and martial law is put into place. U.S. troops need to round up particular folks," he wrote.
"Let's take this a step further. After all, with Barack Obama desiring to decrease the number of folks in the military, and with forces committed worldwide, we may not have sufficient military forces at home to deal with a rising national emergency. If the government decided to rely on foreign troops, perhaps United Nations personnel, most of which may not understand the street signs, much less know the lay of the land, they could use GPS devices to direct them to your front door," he wrote.
According to the Census Bureau's website, the GPS technology "allows us to reduce the amount of time spent by census workers in locating addresses. … Most importantly, by adding a GPS coordinate to each housing unit, the Census Bureau is able to ensure that residents are counted in the right location."
At Canada Free Press, commentator J.B. Williams said, "I can't resist the urge to question the authority and purpose behind such a BIG BROTHER initiative, when the official census itself is not due to be taken until 2010…
"No imagination is required to think up a whole laundry list of evil that could be done with a nationwide GPS grid of coordinate's markers painted on every private home across the country. But I was having trouble thinking up one good reason for it, even one legitimate use that would justify what must be a very expensive undertaking," he said.
"Why does the Obama administration need or want the latitude and longitude coordinates for every home in America? Why the rush to GPS paint every home in the next 90 days? Why must the marker be within 40 feet of every front door? For what possible purpose does the Fed need GPS coordinates for every home, and under what authority do they have the right? Census workers, whom I asked, had the same holy-crap look on their faces that I had by then," he wrote.
Then he cited the cooperative effort that the U.S. Census Bureau has reached with ACORN, the organization of community activists with which Obama worked.
"Obama's interest in an ACORN-controlled 2010 Census, for the purpose of redistricting to the advantage of Democrats before the 2010 mid-term elections, comes as NO shock from a regime known for their heavy handed Rules for Radicals political strategies. But what does this have to do with GPS marking every home in the country?" he questioned.
Ask those who have served military duty, he said. They are very familiar with the most common use of GPS target painting, and the rest might want to read books such as "The Precision Revolution: GPS and the Future of Aerial Warfare."
Online sources noted that Google Maps already probably has listed most homes in the nation.
"But the front door? Sounds like a jackboot convenience to me," said RightSoup.com.
Added Williams, "What I do know is this … Coincidences of this number and magnitude don't happen. … I also know that people had better start asking the right people the right questions and demanding answers fast. Begin with asking the mainstream press why there has been no public notification of the federal governments GPS marking your front door?"
A number of concerned citizens have contacted WND about the program, and repeatedly have cited warnings delivered by the GPS squad members that their failure to allow the readings would result in fines and possibly imprisonment under Title 13, which allows the census to be taken.
But repeatedly they've gotten no answers when asked what a GPS reading has to do with the number of people living at the home – which isn't supposed to be subject to questions until 2010 anyway.
One WND reader raised these questions to a local census office.
"What authority does the U.S. Census Bureau have for sending anyone to my front door in April of 2009 to mark it with GPS coordinates? This is unacceptable. The census is not due until 2010, and the usurpation of the census by the White House is unconstitutional. … This citizen will not answer census questions until the year they are due, and demands that my GPS coordinates be removed from all government records."
The census response?
"Address canvassing should conclude by mid-July. The operation will use new hand-held computers equipped with GPS to increase geographic accuracy. The ability to capture GPS coordinates for most of the nation's housing units will greatly reduce the number of geographic coding errors caused by using paper maps in previous counts. … During the address canvassing operation, census workers may ask to verify a housing structure's address and whether there are additional living quarters on the property. All census workers carry official government badges marked with just their name. You also may ask them for a picture ID from another source to confirm their identity. In addition, some census workers might carry a 'U. S. Census Workers' bag."
Another WND reader, from Washington state, reported he is having his attorney look into the legality of the GPS data collection and hopes to have enough support for a legal challenge.
The reader, whose name was withheld because of his concerns over repercussions, said a government home data collector ignored his no trespassing sign, and he was threatened by the collector for wanting to refuse to provide "census" information.
He said GPS mapping nowhere is authorized for census workers.
Census spokesman Stephen Buckner told WND the activity is, in fact, proper, and even necessary. There are homes being built and torn down constantly, and the census needs such information. Local building records and other government databases such as tax records would not suffice, he said.
"There are 140,000 workers walking every street of America," he told WND, in order to document 145 million addresses with GPS coordinates.
He assured WND that all such personal information is confidential, because employees of contractors doing the work are subject to a $250,000 fine or imprisonment for five years for revealing personal information. He also confirmed that the last case that was prosecuted under the law was nearly 50 years ago.
"We have to verify every single address," he said.