Concerns about state surveillance have been growing at such a rate in the past 10 years that the census was never going to have an easy ride, this time round.
As it plopped on to our mats this week, you would be forgiven for reflecting that government agencies already gather more information about us than is sensible, useful or even decent. As Heather Brooke's polemic, The Silent State, shows us, in recent years government agencies have sought to collect detailed information on the mentality, health and prospects of citizens from a very young age, while consistently denying the right of citizens to discover anything about the authorities themselves.
In this country, something like four million CCTV cameras supervise our ordinary movements every day. Many millions of citizens have their DNA stored by the law enforcement agencies, whether or not they have been found guilty of any crime. Hundreds of official and pseudo-official agencies have been handed the right to carry out surveillance operations into the intimate lives of individuals, for no better reason, sometimes, than to see if we conform to the rules on the putting out of rubbish.