What is the Privacy Act?

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The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 552a) is a code of fair information practices which mandates how federal agencies, such as the EPA, maintain records about individuals. The Privacy Act requires that agencies:

  • collect only information that is relevant and necessary to carry out an agency function;
  • maintain no secret records on individuals;
  • explain at the time the information is being collected, why it is needed and how it will be used;
  • ensure that the records are used only for the reasons given, or seek the person’s permission when another purpose for the records’ use is considered necessary or desirable;
  • provide adequate safeguards to protect the records from unauthorized access and disclosure; and
  • allow people to see the records kept on them and provide them with the opportunity to correct inaccuracies in their records.

The Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. ยง 552a, as amended.

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