The Census for Scotland is now being delivered by hand to homes in Lochgelly. The Census aim is to collect information on the public to help improve services and allocate budgets for areas in Scotland.

The Scottish Census is costing £65 million pound to collect data on 5 million individuals which seems excessive during a time of economic depression, job losses and cuts to public services.

Unlike the English Census which has received much criticism for awarding the data collection and processing to the American Arms Dealer, LockHeed Martin, Scotland has opted for another company.

Unfortunately that company is CACI (UK) Ltd which has won the £18.5 million contract to process the census and is the same company that has been accused of human rights violations in Iraq, and also has extensive contracts with the US National Security Agency (NSA)


CACI Ltd is an international corporation with their main headquarters in Arlington, Virginia with offices located in the UK. CACI Ltd provided “interrogation support” to the US Army in Iraq at Abu Ghraib. CACI staff were employed as interrogators at Abu Ghraib, and during that time, prisoners were humiliated and tortured by US military police. Images were later released which resulted in several low ranking soldiers being court martialed.

CACI is currently denying any wrong doing and is trying to block lawsuits (involving over 250 Iraqi plaintiffs) from former Abu Ghraib prisoners by claiming “official immunity”.

Former Abu Ghraib detainees have said they were tortured in various ways by CACI and its co conspirators, including;

  • Torture with electric shocks
  • Beatings
  • Forced nakedness
  • Forced participation in physical activities to the point of exhaustion
  • Sensory deprivation
  • Deprivation of food
  • Deprivation of oxygen
  • Deprivation of sleep
  • Torture with extremely hot and cold water
  • Intimidation by dogs

Also, in June 2009 it was reported that a dossier providing a summary of the corporations activities were passed to the Lothian & Borders police, who in turn believed there was a case to prosecute the company in Scotland. However, this was rejected by the Crown Office on the grounds that they have no jurisdiction to investigate the allegations made as they refer to foreign nationals on foreign soil.

Data Protection

Another worry about this census concerns the privacy issue and potential breaches to the UK Data Protection Act, and EU Privacy Legislation. All our data is to be processed by a company that is American based and is therefore, ultimately, outside the law of Britain and Scotland.

Under the US Patriot Act companies are legally obliged to hand over personal data to the US Government, CIA and FBI, therefore the US Government can have access to all our personal information. It has been stated for the English census by ONS (Office for National Statistics);

Under the contractual and operational arrangements we have put in place, no employees of Lockheed Martin UK or of its US parent or of any other US company will be able to access personal census data. The US Patriot Act could not therefore, be used to access such data…… ……the public can be assured that the information they provide to the 2011 census will be well protected and securely managed.

The details of the contractual and operational arrangements need to be displayed so people can ensure their privacy and personal data is being protected and not open to any abuse.

The following data security measures have been put in place;

  1. All data processing will be carried out in the UK – no data will leave or be held at any point outside the UK
  2. No Lockheed Martin staff will have access to any personal census data
  3. All data is the property of the ONS and only UK- or EU-owned companies will have any access to personal census data

However, it is the last point which is giving the most concern to privacy advocates and lobbyist groups that are claiming that this will allow any organisation to access the data if they request it.

Professor of international law at London Metropolitan University, Douwe Korff believes that data could be shared under exemptions outlined in Section 39 of the Statistics and Registration Service Act (SRSA):

Subsection (1) does not apply to a disclosure which:

(a) is required or permitted by any enactment,
(b) is required by a Community obligation,
(c) is necessary for the purpose of enabling or assisting the Board to exercise any of its functions,
(d) has already lawfully been made available to the public,
(e) is made in pursuance of an order of a court,
(f) is made for the purposes of a criminal investigation or criminal proceedings (whether or not in the United Kingdom),
(g) is made, in the interests of national security, to an Intelligence Service,
(h) is made with the consent of the person to whom it relates, or
(i) is made to an approved researcher.

Douwe Korff has stated:

The legal safeguards against breaches of confidentiality are so flimsy as to be useless. In a democracy under the rule of law, one should not have to rely on blind trust in the authorities; the law should guarantee restraint.

The law that applies to the census data does not stand in the way of the UK police, or intelligence services, foreign law enforcement agencies or secret services, seeking access – not just in exceptional cases but for general “trawling” or “fishing expeditions,”

This could lead to data being used to create terrorist profiles or general profiles for policy-making, such as labelling young children as “probable” future criminals, or likely to become pregnant while still a teenager.

Lastly, we have seen multiple errors by the Government losing personal data including the Child Benefit data which held personal details of all families in the UK with a child under 16, this detailed, names, addresses, date of births, NI numbers, and where relevant, bank details of 25 million people.

A report detailing lost data in 2007 by the Government, including local authorities, NHS Trusts, etc. lost a staggering total of 36,989,300 items, including passports, banking and mortgage details, credit cards, hospital records, to name a few.

So the Government has a very bad track record of keeping our personal data private and secure.

Should you fill out the Scottish Census

If you are concerned about your privacy and how the data is going to be processed or used, or have concerns over the fact that an American company with serious ongoing issues over human rights abuses allegations, you may wish to protest by not completing the census, but be aware, you are legally obliged to complete the census or risk a fine of £1000.

The last census in Scotland had 200,000 people fail to complete the census, out of that number, 8 were pursued and only 3 were successfully prosecuted in court.

Things you can do with the census is protest through lack of co-operation by going on a slow down:

  • Write to the General Register Office for Scotland asking for clarification on any issues you may have on the census and explain that you cannot fulfill your obligation to complete the census until your queries have been addressed.
  • Make Freedom of Information requests to the General Register Office for Scotland
  • Write to your MSPs and Councillors with any concerns you have.

Will you be completing the Scottish Census?

  • No (40%, 32 Votes)
  • Yes (35%, 28 Votes)
  • Unsure (26%, 21 Votes)

Total Voters: 81

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Further Reading & Article Sources

We have published links to our referenced sources and links to further reading for any of the issues covered in this article.

Your Feedback

We would love to hear your thoughts on the Scottish Census. Do you think the info they are collecting is too invasive? Is it ethical to allow an American company accused of Human Rights Abuse to be handling and processing the data? Do you support the census? Why not let us know in the comments below.

Disclaimer: Loch of Shining Waters does not seek to encourage people to break the law in any way or boycott the census, but to raise awareness about the 2011 census and action that people are taking around it. It is a criminal offence under the Census Act 1920 to not complete the census, to not complete any part of the census (other than the Religion question), or provide false information. Taking these actions would leave you liable to prosecution which could lead to a criminal record and a fine up to £1,000.
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  1. Anne

    March 20, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Scary reading! For starters ‘they’ are asking far too many questions, it is none of ‘their’ business. And after reading about the company who is collecting and processing our information, it’s shocking! Thanks for all the links provided, I’m gonna check some of them out. I don’t know yet whether I’m filling the census out or not, I don’t want to go against the law (although why it should be an offence to want to keep my private life private, I don’t understand…whatever happened to name, rank and number…so to speak). But I don’t want this company having all my details either. We shouldn’t be put in this kind of dilema, really we should just be asked to give the very basic details required, and it all should just be processed by A Scottish/UK company, and completely confidential.


    • Lochgelly

      March 20, 2011 at 4:04 pm

      “it all should just be processed by A Scottish/UK company, and completely confidential.”

      I completely agree, the privacy issue could have been avoided if the Government contracted a Scottish business. Also it seems senseless when we are in an economic depression to outsource the work to a foreign company, we need to be supporting our own economy first.

      Some people will be completing the census but will be deliberately spoiling the form to force a human to read the form and input data, as this will cut down the profit CACI receive as they cannot then just scan the document using a computer. We will be post more on this later


  2. Ian

    March 29, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    A most informative artical its a discrase that a company from outwith the uk is handeling the census

    Also the the US Patriot Act is not a reciprical agreement as with extridition proceedings, the uk is fast becoming a saterlite of the usa

    Security isues as most world powers have the capability to intercept, monitor internet and email activity it is very probable big brother is intercepting the online census data as well as accessing the data centres processing the data.

    unfortunataly i canot aford a £1000 fine but will be making it as dificult as posible for big brother to get the infomation
    I have compleated every census over the last 40 years without any concerns but this one i have real geniune privicy and security concerns regarding the data


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