Overview of The Privacy Act of 1974 (2020 Edition)

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PREFACE

The “Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974,” prepared by the Department of Justice’s Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties (OPCL), constitutes a discussion of various provisions of the Privacy Act, as addressed by court decisions in cases involving the 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. It is a comprehensive -- but not exhaustive -- resource that describes the current state of the law.

The Overview is not intended to provide policy guidance or create policy, as that role statutorily rests with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and where OMB has issued policy guidance on particular provisions of the Act, citation to such guidance is provided in the Overview. The 2020 edition of the Overview includes cases through April of 2020. It was published electronically in October 2020 and sent for print publication in November 2020. The online version will be a living document, and updated by OPCL in its discretion as appropriate.

OPCL is very pleased to provide this updated revision of the Overview, and could not have done so without the commitment of OPCL’s dedicated staff and the interagency Overview Working Group, who are recognized individually on the accompanying masthead. The organization and development of legal materials are the work product of OPCL, which is responsible for the Overview’s content.

Peter A. Winn
Acting Chief Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer
United States Department of Justice

 

INTRODUCTION

    A. Legislative History
    B. Privacy Protection Study Commission
    C. Office of Management and Budget Guidance
    D. Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act

JUDICIAL REDRESS ACT

    A. Extension of Privacy Act Remedies to Citizens of Designated Countries
    B. Attorney General Designations Related to the U.S.-EU Data Protection and Privacy Agreement

        1. Covered Countries under the DPPA
        2. Designated Federal Agency or Component under the DPPA

DEFINITIONS

    A. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(a)(1) – Agency
    B. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(a)(2) – Individual
    C. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(a)(3) – Maintain
    D. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(a)(4) - Record
    E. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(a)(5) - System of Records

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) - Government Accountability 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

    A. The Privacy Act and the FOIA
    B. FOIA/Privacy Act Interface Examples: Access
    C. Records Requests and Searches
    D. Third Party Interests

INDIVIDUAL’S RIGHT OF AMENDMENT

AGENCY REQUIREMENTS

    A. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(1) - Maintain Only Relevant and Necessary Information
    B. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(2) - Collect Information, to the Greatest Extent Practicable, Directly from the Individual
    C. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(3) - Inform Individuals when Asking to Collect Information
    D. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(4) - Publish System of Records Notice
    E. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(5) - Maintain Accurate, Relevant, Timely, and Complete Records
    F. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(6) - Review Records Prior to Dissemination
    G. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(7) - Record Describing The Exercise of Rights Guaranteed by the First Amendment
    H. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(8) - Notice of Court Disclosure    
    I. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(9) - Rules of Conduct    
    J. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(10) Establish Safeguards    
    K. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(11) Publish New or Intended Use    

AGENCY RULES

    A. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(f)(1) - Establish Notification Procedures    
    B. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(f)(2) - Define Time, Place, and Requirements for Identifying Individuals    
    C. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(f)(3) - Establish Procedures for Disclosure of Records to Individuals    
    D. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(f)(4) - Establish Procedures for Requests and Appeals    
    E. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(f)(5) - Establish Copying Fees    

CIVIL REMEDIES

    A. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(g)(1)(A) - Amendment Lawsuits    
    B. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(g)(1)(B) - Access Lawsuits    
    C. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(g)(1)(C) - Damages Lawsuits for Failure to Assure Fairness in Agency Determination    
    D. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(g)(1)(D) - Damages Lawsuits For Failure to Comply with Other Privacy Act Provisions    
    E. Principles Applicable to Damages Lawsuits    

        1. Intentional or Willful Standard    
        2. Actual Damages    
        3. Limits on Injunctive Relief for Damages Claims    
        4. Additional Considerations for Damages Claims    

    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. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(d)(5) – Special Exemption for Information Compiled for Civil Action    
    B. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(j) - Two General Exemptions for Central Intelligence Agency and Criminal Law Enforcement
    C. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(k) - Seven Specific Exemption Rules Agencies May Promulgate    

        1. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(k)(1) - FOIA Exemption 1, Classified Information    
        2. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(k)(2) - Investigative Law Enforcement Materials    
        3. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(k)(3) - Secret Service Records    
        4. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(k)(4) - Statistical Records    
        5. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(k)(5) - Source-Identifying Investigatory Material Compiled for Determining Suitability, Eligibility, or Other Qualification    
        6. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(k)(6) - Testing or Examination Materials    
        7. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(k)(7) - Source-Identifying Armed Services Promotion Material    

DISCLOSURE OF SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER

    A. Exception for Disclosures Required by Federal Statute    
    B. Exception for Laws and Regulations in Effect before January 1, 1975    
    C. Federal, State, and Local Government Notice Requirements    
    D. Causes of Action    

GOVERNMENT CONTRACTORS

MAILING LISTS

ARCHIVAL RECORDS AND NEW SYSTEMS AND MATCHING PROVISIONS

Overview of the Privacy Act, 2020 Edition References

Updated February 5, 2021

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