Information About Rights of Privacy
As per the 5 U.S.C, 552 A –Public Law 93-579 , the Privacy Act of 1974 lays down the code for the practice of fair information. This act determines the maintenance, collection as well as the use and the distribution of information especially the use of the personal identifiers of the individuals that are maintained in the system of records of the federal agencies.
The system of records refers to the collection of records that are under the authority of the federal agencies from where the information is acquired by keying in the name of the individual or by using specific identifiers that is assigned to each person. The Privacy Act makes it mandatory for the federal agencies to notify the public about the records system through a public notice from the federal register.
Two main arguments exist for rights of privacy:
Provisions of the Privacy Act
This act restricts the disclosure of information about an individual that includes personal details without the consent of the individual who is the subject of the records unless such information falls under the purview of the 12 statutory exceptions. The Privacy Act has set the guidelines for the record maintenance procedure of the various agencies. It also offers the individuals the right to access their own records, scrutinize, amend or rectify any inaccurate information contained in their records.
Conditions of Disclosure
Under the provision of the Privacy Act the general public enjoys certain rights to privacy. No agency has the right to disclose any information about an individual to a third party especially that information which infringes his/her right to privacy without the approval of the concerned individual. The approval needs to be in the form of a written consent from the subject of the record.
The personal record of the individual can only be disclosed under the following conditions:
• For the administrative purposes
• To be used by the government agencies in the United States
• To be used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as the Census Bureau for statistical purposes and record maintenance purposes
• To be used by the law enforcement and the criminal justice agencies for investigation purposes
• To be used for the Congressional investigations
• To be used for the archival purposes if it is of historical, legal or judicial significance or are valuable for research purpose.
The Privacy Act makes it mandatory for every government agency in the United States to have a system of administrative as well as physical security to ensure that the personal records are not released without the proper authorization.
Access to Records
Under the Privacy Act every government agency in the United States responsible for the maintenance of a records management system require to allow an individual upon request to not only review his/her record but also to make copies of the record. In addition this act also empowers the individuals to make corrections or request for amendments to the contents of their own record. But it is important to note that the Privacy Act is not applicable to all the records of the individuals. It is only applicable to those records that are held by the various government agencies.
The records held by the non-governmental agencies as well as the components of the executive records and some of the records held by the courts do not fall under the purview of the right to privacy. Individuals do not have any right to such records nor are these records protected by the Congressional statutes.