A down-to-earth defense of public survey-research and explanation of respondent privacy, by David Morganstein, Tom Krenzke, and Sylvia Dohrmann of Westat:
Government surveys get a bad rap. Detractors cry that the surveys “pry into our daily lives.” The Founding Fathers, however, recognized the important role information can provide in tracking the development of our country. So much so, they penned a requirement for a decennial census into the first Article of the U.S. Constitution.
Critics of government surveys bark another flawed argument: that, once collected, personal information is at risk. These people have, obviously, never met a statistician. Statisticians take data very seriously. We are data-control fanatics. We make sure your personal identifiers are deleted and the other data remains just that: a bunch of codes and numbers that don’t identify you or connect you to the information you’ve provided.