The Privacy Act

The Privacy Act of 1974  provides safeguards against invasion of personal privacy through the misuse of records by Federal Agencies.

The Privacy Act was passed in 1974 to establish controls over what personal information is collected, maintained, used and disseminated by agencies in the executive branch of the Federal government.

The Privacy Act only applies to records that are located in a “system of records.” As defined in the Privacy Act, a system of records is “a group of any records under the control of any agency from which information is retrieved by the name of the individual or by some identifying number, symbol, or other identifying particular assigned to the individual.”

For a complete list of the Department’s records collections systems, go to the Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA) and the Systems of Records Notices (SORN) pages.

The Privacy Act guarantees three primary rights:

  1. The right to see records about oneself, subject to Privacy Act exemptions;
  2. The right to request the amendment of records that are not accurate, relevant, timely or complete; and
  3. The right of individuals to be protected against unwarranted invasion of their privacy resulting from the collection, maintenance, use, and disclosure of personal information.

If you are a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, you may make a request for personal information on yourself under the Privacy Act. Go to the Request page for more information.

Requests made under the Privacy Act will be processed under both the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to ensure the greatest access to your personal records.


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