The Privacy Act of 1974 is a set of fair information practices that govern how government agencies, like OSD, keep track of personal information. Government agencies are required by the Privacy Act to collect only the information that is relevant and essential to carry out their functions. According to the Act, authorities must keep no hidden data on individuals and must explain why information is being collected, why it is needed, and how it will be utilized at the time of collection (U.S. Office of Special Counsel). Furthermore, authorities must guarantee that the records are only used for the purposes stated or obtain the person’s agreement if another use is deemed essential or beneficial. The Privacy Act also takes into account the provision of suitable safeguards to protect documents from unlawful access and disclosure. Finally, it allows people to access the records that have been kept on them and to amend any mistakes in that information.
The Privacy Act mandates that agencies publish notice of their record-keeping systems in the Federal Register. Unless one of twelve legislative exceptions apply, the Privacy Act bans the record discloses that contains information about an individual from a system of records without the individual’s express consent (U.S. Office of Special Counsel). The Act also establishes a process for individuals to request access to and alteration of their data, as well as other agency record-keeping standards.
Federal agencies are prohibited from disclosing information without authorization under the Privacy Act unless certain circumstances apply. According to the Privacy Act, each US government agency must have a physical and administrative security mechanism in place to prevent the unlawful release of personal information. When asking for information, federal agencies must identify the authority that authorized the information solicitation and decide on disclosure is mandatory or voluntary in order to preserve individuals’ liberty and privacy rights (U.S. Office of Special Counsel). This warning can be seen on practically all government forms that seek individual information, including several that ask for confidential and personal information.
The Privacy Act of 1974. U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Web.