Privacy Act of 1974

A U.S. law that regulates the federal government’s use of computerized databases of information about U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents. It also establishes fair information practices that each agency must follow when collecting, using or disclosing personal information, including rights of citizen action and redress for violations. It guarantees that U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents have: (1) the right to see records about themselves that are maintained by the federal government (provided that information is not subject to one or more of the Privacy Act's exemptions); (2) the right to amend inaccurate, irrelevant, untimely or incomplete records; and (3) the right to sue the government for failure to comply with its requirements. It also contains fair information practices that: (1) require that information about a person be collected from that person to the greatest extent practicable; (2) require agencies to ensure that their records are relevant, accurate, timely and complete, and (3) prohibit agencies from maintaining information describing how an individual exercises his or her First Amendment rights (unless the individual consents to it, it is permitted by statute or is within the scope of an authorized law enforcement investigation).

Link to text of law: Privacy Act