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The Privacy Act and The Freedom of Information Act
The Privacy Act
An individual is entitled to access to his or her records and to
request correction of these records by stating the reasons for such
actions with supporting justification showing how the record is untimely,
incomplete, inaccurate or irrelevant. The Privacy Act prohibits disclosure
of these records without written individual consent unless one of the
twelve disclosure exceptions enumerated in the Act applies. These records
are held in Privacy Act systems of records. A notice of any such system is
published in the Federal Register. These notices identify the legal
authority for collecting and storing the records, individuals about whom
records will be collected, what kinds of information will be collected,
and how the records will be used (See http://www.socialsecurity.gov/foia/bluebook/bluebook.htm).
The Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as amended at 5 U.S.C.552, is a disclosure statute that requires Federal Executive Branch agencies to make records available to the public.
The intent of the FOIA is to prevent agencies from having “secret law” and to make the government accountable to the public for its actions. FOIA requires agencies to publish in the Federal Register statements of its organizations, functions, rules, procedures, general policy, and any changes, and how to get information. In addition, agencies must index and make available for public inspection and copying statements of policy, manuals and instructions, and final opinions and orders in cases, as well as the indexes.
FOIA applies to all records created or received by the agency and in its possession or under its control. Agencies must make records available to the public on request, unless they fall within one of the nine statutory exemptions. (See http://www.socialsecurity.gov/foia/html/foia_guide.htm).
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Last reviewed or modified Monday Jan 14, 2008