The availability of information, from personal information to public information, is made all the easier today due to technological changes in computers, digitized networks, internet access, and the creation of new information products. The E-Government Act of 2002 recognized that these advances also have important ramifications for the protection of personal information contained in government records and systems.
Privacy Impact Assessments (“PIAs”) are required by Section 208 of the E-Government Act for all Federal government agencies that develop or procure new information technology involving the collection, maintenance, or dissemination of information in identifiable form or that make substantial changes to existing information technology that manages information in identifiable form. A PIA is an analysis of how information in identifiable form is collected, stored, protected, shared, and managed. The purpose of a PIA is to demonstrate that system owners and developers have incorporated privacy protections throughout the entire life cycle of a system. The Act requires an agency to make PIAs publicly available, except when an agency in its discretion determines publication of the PIA would raise security concerns, reveal classified (i.e., national security) information, or sensitive (e.g., potentially damaging to a nation interest, law enforcement effort or competitive business interest contained in the assessment) information.