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Policy & Guidelines

Broadly stated, the purpose of the Privacy Act is to balance the government's need to maintain information about individuals with the rights of individuals to be protected against unwarranted invasions of their privacy stemming from federal agencies' collection, maintenance, use and disclosure of personal information about them.

Policy & Guidelines

The Privacy Act of 1974
Title 5, United States Code, Section 552a

DoD Directive 5400.11
8 May 2007, Incorporating Change 1, September 1, 2011

DoD Regulation 5400.11-R
14 May 2007

Policy Objectives

The historical context of the Privacy Act is important to an understanding of its remedial purposes: In 1974, Congress was concerned with curbing the illegal surveillance and investigation of individuals by federal agencies that had been exposed during the Watergate scandal; it was also concerned with potential abuses presented by the government's increasing use of computers to store and retrieve personal data by means of a universal identifier -- such as an individual's social security number.

The Privacy Act focuses on four basic policy objectives:

(1) To restrict disclosure of personally identifiable records maintained by agencies.

(2) To grant individuals increased rights of access to agency records maintained on themselves.

(3) To grant individuals the right to seek amendment of agency records maintained on themselves upon a showing that the records are not accurate, relevant, timely or complete.

(4) To establish a code of "fair information practices" which requires agencies to comply with statutory norms for collection, maintenance and dissemination of records.

No Disclosure Rule

"No agency shall disclose any record which is contained in a system of records by any means of communication to any person, or to another agency, except pursuant to a written request by, or with the prior written consent of, the individual to whom the record pertains [subject to 12 exceptions]." Title 5, United States Code, Section 552a(b).

Policy and Guidelines

DoD Instruction 5230.29
Security and Policy Review of DoD Information for Public Release
8 January 2009

DOD Archived documents ... 

DoD Web Policies and Guidelines
For All DoD Webmasters, Authors, Providers

Statute and Regulations

Title 5, United States Code, Section 552a, Public Law 93-579

DoD Directive 5400.11, implemented by DoD Regulation 5400.11-R

For further research see: "The Privacy Act of 1974," a 32-minute film developed by the Defense Privacy Office. (Contact the Joint Visual Information Activity (JVIA) at DSN 795-6543/7283 or commercial (717) 895-6543/7283, and ask for #504432 "The Privacy Act of 1974.") 

OMB Circular No. A-130, Management of Federal Information Resources (See 59 FR 37906)