Privacy Act Of 1974 Is Term Paper


Privacy Act of 1974 is a law that 'requires certain private information held by the government not be disclosed' (Hall, 2006:277). This private information pertains to personal records of individuals who are part of a system of records, which includes personal data, employment records, medical history, and other relevant information of an individual that are kept as part of the system of records of a particular agency or institution wherein such information is relevant and vital. The Privacy Act differs from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in that the former mandates that personal information contained within systems of records should not be disclosed, while the FOIA requires the disclosure of federal records, or records that are legislative and legal in nature. Exceptions covered in the Privacy Act include, among others, the provision and disclosure of information by the individual himself/herself for his/her own purpose, or in the event that another party may request for the personal information of an individual, agencies may do so if the request would be used for "compelling" reasons, or in the accomplishment of duties of specific agencies and departments of the government (such as the National Archives and Bureau of the Census) (279).

Both the Privacy Act and the FOIA is very relevant in the present issues that the country is addressing at present. The extra measures that the Bush government is implementing to prevent another terrorist attack resulted to non-disclosure of federal records to the public, and the ease of obtaining information about individuals, especially when the government considers the individual a possible link, suspect or threat to the government. These measures demonstrate a violation of the very functions of both laws, a most-debated upon issue nowadays, as America continues to be weary and fearful of possible future terrorist attacks.

Works Cited

Hall, D. (2006). Administrative Law: Bureaucracy in a Democracy. NJ: Prentice Hall.

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