Privacy Act of 1974

The Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a, establishes a code of fair information practices that governs the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of 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.

The Privacy Act requires that agencies give the public notice of their systems of records by publication in the Federal Register. Click here to see a list of DOJ systems of records and their Federal Register citations. The Privacy Act prohibits the disclosure of a record about an individual from a system of records absent the written consent of the 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.

Overview of the Privacy Act

The "Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974, 2012 Edition" is a comprehensive treatise of existing Privacy Act case law. Any questions regarding the Overview may be directed to the Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties staff.