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About the Office

In the Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005, Congress mandated that the Attorney General designate a senior official in the Department of Justice to assume primary responsibility for privacy policy. Prior to this, section 1062 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 found that it was “the sense of Congress that each executive department or agency with law enforcement or antiterrorism functions should designate a privacy and civil liberties officer.” Accordingly, in 2006, the Department of Justice created the position of CPCLO in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General and subsequently established OPCL to support the duties and responsibilities of the CPCLO. The creation of OPCL consolidated the Department's existing privacy operations into one office to centralize and coordinate its privacy and civil liberties activities that concern the handling of personal information. OPCL is headed by a Director who reports directly to the CPCLO.

OPCL is responsible for ensuring the Department’s compliance with privacy and civil liberties-related laws and policies, and appropriately minimizing related risks, including under the Privacy Act of 1974, Judicial Redress Act of 2015, and privacy provisions of the E­-Government Act of 2002 and Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014, as well as administration policy directives issued in furtherance of those Acts.  OPCL develops and provides Departmental privacy training; oversees the Department’s responses to data breaches; ensures the Department has adequate procedures to receive, investigate, respond to, and redress complaints from individuals who allege the Department has violated their privacy or civil liberties; prepares privacy-related reporting to Congress, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and other appropriate entities; and reviews the information handling practices of the Department to ensure that such practices are consistent with the protection of privacy and civil liberties. Finally, OPCL is responsible for advising Department leadership and components concerning international data protection and privacy laws and policies.  In this role, OPCL participates in international organizations charged with addressing these issues, and helps represent the Department in international negotiations designed to harmonize privacy related laws, policies and practices related to the Department’s law enforcement and national security missions,   which increasingly must take place in an information ecosystem where the handling of personal data by one country is inextricably intertwined with that of others.

Updated October 5, 2022