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What Is the Privacy Act?

Because of the number of methods that an individual or party may employ to observe, record, or take note of the private activities of another person or party, laws were enacted to respond to this form of invasion. The Privacy Act is one such law that addressed the concerns many people had with regards to maintaining their privacy.

The Privacy Act was passed by the US government into law in 1974. Its purpose was provide individuals control over information involving themselves. This act specifically addressed government records of persons. It is the right of each person to know the contents of his or her government records, make changes when necessary, and know when, where, and how it is being used.

In order to ensure government transparency and to assure people of their security with the government, the Privacy Act was designed to allow people control over information concerning them. Thus, no type of information could be used without the express authorization of the person. The Privacy Act provided that government agencies needed to have a system of records that must be protected and controlled at all times. Such records cannot be used or exchanged between government agencies unless authorized by the person or under certain circumstances.

In order for a person to know what is in their government records, they may file a Privacy Act request. It is necessary for a person who wishes to access their records to provide some form of identification. This is because such information released may be extremely sensitive and must only be known to the actual person.


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