Privacy Act of 1974 Law and Legal Definition

Privacy Act of 1974 is a public law which lays down a code of fair information practice that regulates the collection, maintenance and dissemination of personal information about individuals that is maintained in the records by the federal agencies. The Act prohibits the disclosure of information relating to the individuals. However, the Act provides that the agencies are entitled to disclose information about individuals that has been explicitly stated in the statutory exceptions.

Following are the exceptions under the Act:

1.For statistical purposes by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics;

2.For routine uses within the U.S. government agency;

3.For archival purposes "as a record which has sufficient historical or other value to warrant its continued preservation by the U.S. government;


4.For law enforcement purposes;

5.For congressional investigations; and

6.Other administrative purposes.

The Privacy Act mandates that each federal agency have in place an administrative and physical security system to prevent the unauthorized release of personal records.