Privacy Act and Records

The Privacy Act

The Privacy Act, passed by Congress in 1974, establishes certain controls over what personal information is collected by the federal government and how it is used. This law guarantees three primary rights:
1. the right to see records about oneself, subject to the Privacy Act’s exemptions;
2. the right to amend a nonexempt record if it is inaccurate, irrelevant, untimely, or incomplete; and
3. the right to sue the government for violations of the statute, such as permitting unauthorized individuals to read your records.

The Privacy Act also provides for certain limitations on agency information practices, such as requiring that information about an individual be collected from that individual to the greatest extent practicable; requiring agencies to ensure that their records are accurate, relevant, timely, and complete; and prohibiting agencies from maintaining information describing how an individual exercises his or her First Amendment rights unless the individual consents to it, a statute permits it, or it is within the scope of an authorized law enforcement investigation.

The Defense Privacy and Civil Liberties Office is responsible for implementation of the Department of Defense (DoD) Privacy Program.

System of Records

A System of Records is a group of any records under the control of any agency from which information is retrieved by the name of the individual or by some identifying number, symbol, or other identifier assigned to the individual. The Privacy Act requires each agency to publish notice of its systems of records in the Federal Register. This notice is generally referred to as a system of records notice (SORN).

SORN is a legally binding public notification identifying and documenting the purpose for a system of records, the individuals covered by the system, the types of records in the system, and how the information is shared. They are required by the Privacy Act of 1974 and are published in the Federal Register to provide the public an opportunity for comment.




Text of The Privacy Act

To view DoD Component SORNs, DoD-wide SORNs, or Government-wide SORNs, please click on the appropriate link.