The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. § 552a) establishes a Code of Fair Information Practice that governs the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personally identifiable information about individuals that is maintained in systems of records by federal agencies. A system of records is a group of records under the control of an agency from which information is retrieved by the name of the individual or by some identifier assigned to the individual. [1]

Website: DoD Privacy Office

Presentation: 2010 Intro to Privacy Act of 1974

The Privacy Act requires that agencies give the public notice of their systems of records by publication in the Federal Register. It prohibits the disclosure of information from a system of records absent the written consent of the subject individual, unless the disclosure is pursuant to one of twelve statutory exceptions. The Act also provides individuals with a means by which to seek access to and amendment of their records, and sets forth various agency record-keeping requirements. [1]

The Objectives of the Privacy Act:

  • To restrict disclosure of personally identifiable records maintained by agencies
  • To grant individuals increased rights of access to agency records maintained on themselves
  • To grant individuals the right to seek amendment of agency records maintained on themselves upon a showing that the records are not accurate, relevant, timely, or complete
  • To establish basic requirements for agencies to comply with standards for collection, use, maintenance, and dissemination of records

The Principals of the Privacy Act:

  1. The privacy of an individual is directly affected by the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personal information by Federal agencies;
  2. The increasing use of computers and sophisticated information technology, while essential to the efficient operations of the Government, has greatly magnified the harm to individual privacy that can occur from any collection, maintenance, use, or dissemination of personal information;
  3. The opportunities for an individual to secure employment, insurance, and credit, and his or her right to due process, and other legal protections are endangered by the misuse of certain information systems;
  4. The right to privacy is a personal and fundamental right protected by the Constitution of the United States; and In order to protect the privacy of individuals identified in information systems maintained by Federal agencies, it is necessary and proper for the Congress to regulate the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of information by such agencies.

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Updated: 7/18/2017

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