Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Public Law No: 93-579 (12/31/1974)


Privacy Act - Prohibits disclosure by Federal agencies of any record contained in a system of records, except pursuant to a written request by or with the prior written consent of the individual to whom the record pertains. Makes exceptions to this prohibition for use of such records by the individual involved, the Congress, the courts, officers of the agency maintaining the record, the Bureau of the Census, and for criminal and civil law enforcement purposes.

Requires agencies which keep records systems to keep account of disclosures of records, and to inform the subjects of such disclosures.

Allows subjects of records to have access and copying rights to such records. Establishes a procedure for amendment of such records, and of judicial appeal of agency refusal to amend.

Requires relevancy of records to official purposes; accuracy; disclosure of purposes to informants; publication annually of the existence, character, and accessibility of records systems; and appropriate safeguards to maintain confidentiality of such records. Prohibits maintenance of records describing individuals' exercise of first amendment rights, with specified exceptions.

Requires recordkeeping agencies to establish rules relating to notice, access, and amendment.

Permits civil suits against agencies by individuals adversely affected by agency actions not in compliance with this Act. Describes remedies available in such actions.

Sets forth criminal penalties for noncompliance with this Act.

Provides for exemptions from this Act, such as for specified records of the Central Intelligence Agency and records of investigations compiled for law enforcement purposes.

Prohibits an agency from selling or renting an individual's name and address.

Requires agencies to notify the Congress and Office of Management and Budget in advance of any proposal to establish or alter records systems.

Requires the President to report to the Congress annually on the number of records which were exempted from the coverage of this Act.

Establishes the Privacy Protection Study Commission to study government and private data systems and make recommendations for protecting privacy by the application of this Act or additional legislation.

Lists suggestive and required areas of study for the Commission.

Grants subpena power to the Commission.

Makes it unlawful for Federal, State, or local agencies to deny legal rights, benefits, or privileges to individuals because of such individuals' refusal to disclose their social security account number.