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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Reference Guide - Privacy Act

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Privacy Act:

The Privacy Act (PA), 5 U.S.C. 552a, protects individuals against clearly unwarranted invasion of their personal privacy. The PA informs individuals as to what information is maintained on them and where the information is stored. The PA allows individuals to access documents maintained in a PA System of Records (records retrievable by an individual's name or other personal identifier assigned to that individual) and to request amendments to the records.

Documents maintained in a PA System of Records are available to a first-party requester (individual that the record pertains to) or their representative unless the records fall within the exemptions of both the PA and the FOIA. An individual submitting a PA request will be asked to provide proof of identity, i.e., photo identification or a notarized statement confirming his/her identity. This requirement ensures that personal information will not be wrongfully disclosed.

The "Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974," prepared by the Department of Justice's Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties, is a discussion of the Privacy Act's disclosure prohibition, its access and amendment provisions, and its agency recordkeeping requirements. The link for the "Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974" is:. http://www.justice.gov/opcl/1974privacyact-overview.htm

PA requests must be submitted in writing and sent to:

REE FOIA/PA Officer
USDA-REE-ARS-IS
5601 Sunnyside Avenue
Room 1-2248, Mail Stop 5128
Beltsville, MD 20705-5128

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Last Modified: 2/1/2011