Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Earth -- 3 Mar. 2057: After only minor delays, the Department of Information Retrieval has officially opened the convenient online identity-registration tool for Interplanetary Census 2057. The Office of the Registrar is strongly encouraging all Stellar Alliance citizens to promptly complete their registration at the Personal Identity Division's website.
"Every 5 years, the Department of Information Retrieval asks all citizens to register their identity by answering a few simple questions about themselves and their living situation," reads a press release issued by the Office of the Registrar. "This information assists our Stellar Parliament in determining the need for taxes and government expenditures in each state or district of the alliance. Prompt registration, and assisting all members of your household as well as your friends and colleagues in completing the census, will help ensure the smooth functioning of the Alliance and speed the delivery of government services to your region.
"For the vast majority of citizens, registration should take only a few minutes of your time. Compliance is mandatory, and failure to register or the provision of false or misleading information carry penalties under interstellar law, ranging from a fine of 600 micro-credits or more to possible imprisonment, suspension of consciousness or statutory indenture. Please direct all inquiries to email@example.com, Attn. Office of the Registrar."
Observers, such as Dr. Mandicorve Thrallenslake, Professor Emeritus of Bureaucratocracy at Lensman University, believe that the aggressive tone adopted by Baikonur this year is a response to perceived problems with the quality of the previous Census.
"You'll recall that at the time of the 2052 Census the Trapezoid was controlled by a Libertarian-led coalition of anti-federalist political elements. They did everything in their power to obstruct the Office of the Registrar from conducting the census. They couldn't quite get it cancelled -- that would of course be a violation of Section 26 of the Constitution Accord -- but they managed to severely soften security and enforcement policy in the Personal Identity Division. The last census only achieved an estimated 76% compliance, and there was a serious problem with duplications, falsified data and griefing. With the Technocrat Party in firm control of both the Trapezoid and the Presidency this time around, and the Socialists backing them up, DIR feels they have a renewed mandate to conduct a really strict and thorough census. A lot more supporting documentation is going to be required this time, and word is they're going to be quite harsh on noncompliance."
During the free debate in the Trapezoid this day, Azimak Titslinger, MP for Mars-Mircordia and the head of the Libertarian Party, took the opportunity to condemn both the census and the Technocratic government.
"Distinguished colleagues, the so-called 'census' is and always has been nothing more than a tool of unchecked state control of your personal life. It is an imposition on our precious time and an inexcusable intrusion into our personal privacy, and I for one refuse to 'register my identity' with the Department of Spies and Collaborators. I dare them to arrest me for it. Go ahead; I'm right here. Come take me away."
Lollis Permanente, a spokesperson for the Office of the Registrar, responded to a request for comment by saying zie doesn't understand what all the furore is about. "Pretty much all the information we ask for is available openly on the hyperlayer. All we want is a convenient, formatted, searchable database provided directly by the citizens themselves. Accurate data is essential to the effective function of the machinery of state."
Mx. Permanente pointed to a number of scandals over the past several years, including a township in Russulan which went without funding for fire prevention services for seven months and a highly publicized series of reparations payments made to nonexistent claimants with given names like 'Whatsa Buttfour' and 'Ivana Fuchyu', as a consequence of a lax census. "These kind of incidents become immensely more common when the census is corrupted, but it's really only the tip of the iceberg. Degradation of the census leads to measurable inefficiencies in everything from economic policy to family life outcomes.
"Those who work to undermine the census really just shoot themselves in the foot. They're making life harder for everyone, not least of all themselves."