Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974, 2015 Edition

Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974, 2015 Edition
Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974, 2015 Edition
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The “Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974,” prepared by the Department of Justice’s Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties (OPCL), is a discussion of the Privacy Act's disclosure prohibition, its access and amendment provisions, and its agency recordkeeping requirements.  Tracking the provisions of the Act itself, the Overview provides reference to and legal analysis of court decisions interpreting the Act's provisions.  The Overview is not intended to provide policy guidance, as that role statutorily rests with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), 5 U.S.C. § 552a(v).  However, where OMB has issued policy guidance on particular provisions of the Act, citation to such guidance is provided in the Overview.

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Table of Contents

•Legislative History
•Role of the Privacy Protection Study Commission
•Role of the Office of Management and Budget
•Computer Matching
•Policy Objectives

A. Agency
B. Individual
C. Maintain
D. Record
E. System of Records

1.Disclosure: Subsection (b)
2.Access and Amendment: Subsections (d)(1) and (d)(2)
3.Other Aspects

•Conditions of Disclosure to Third Parties

A. The "No Disclosure Without Consent" Rule
B. Twelve Exceptions to the "No Disclosure Without Consent" Rule

1.5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(1) ("need to know" within agency)
2.5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(2) (required FOIA disclosure)
3.5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(3) (routine uses)
4.5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(4) (Bureau of the Census)
5.5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(5) (statistical research)
6.5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(6) (National Archives)
7.5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(7) (law enforcement request)
8.5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(8) (health or safety of an individual)
9.5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(9) (Congress)
10.5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(10) (General Accounting Office)
11.5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(11) (court order)
12.5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(12) (Debt Collection Act)

•Accounting of Certain Disclosures
•Individual's Right of Access
•Individual's Right of Amendment
•Agency Requirements

A. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(1)
B. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(2)
C. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(3)
D. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(4)
E. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(5)
F. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(6)
G. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(7)
H. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(8)
I. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(9)
J. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(10)
K. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(11)

•Agency Rules

A. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(f)(1)
B. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(f)(2)
C. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(f)(3)
D. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(f)(4)
E. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(f)(5)

•Civil Remedies

A. Amendment Lawsuits under 5 U.S.C. § 552a(g)(1)(A)

1.Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
2.Court Review

B. Access Lawsuits under 5 U.S.C. § 552a(g)(1)(B)
C. Damages Lawsuits under 5 U.S.C. § 552a(g)(1)(C)
D. Damages Lawsuits under 5 U.S.C. § 552a(g)(1)(D)
E. Principles Applicable to Damages Lawsuits

1.Intentional/Willful Standard
2.Actual Damages

F. Principles Applicable to All Privacy Act Civil Actions

1.Attorney Fees and Costs
2.Jurisdiction and Venue
3.Statute of Limitations
4.Jury Trial

•Criminal Penalties
•Ten Exemptions

A. One Special Exemption -- 5 U.S.C. § 552a(d)(5)
B. Two General Exemptions -- 5 U.S.C. § 552a(j)(1) and (j)(2)
C. Seven Specific Exemptions -- 5 U.S.C. § 552a(k)

1.5 U.S.C. § 552a(k)(1)
2.5 U.S.C. § 552a(k)(2)
3.5 U.S.C. § 552a(k)(3)
4.5 U.S.C. § 552a(k)(4)
5.5 U.S.C. § 552a(k)(5)
6.5 U.S.C. § 552a(k)(6)
7.5 U.S.C. § 552a(k)(7)

•Social Security Number Usage
•Government Contractors
•Mailing Lists
•Miscellaneous Provisions
•Text of the Privacy Act


Lawyers, law students, government officials, and members of the general public looking for more information on The Privacy Act of 1974 may be interested in this overview.

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Justice Dept., Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties
Key Phrases:
  • Privacy Act of 1974
  • Government information, Law and legislation, United States
  • Privacy, Right of, United States
  • Public records, Law and legislation, United States
  • Public records, Access control, United States
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