About the Privacy Act

The Privacy Act of 1974 is a companion to the FOIA. The Privacy Act:

  • Regulates Federal Government agency record keeping and disclosure practices.
  • Allows most individuals to seek access to Federal agency records about themselves.
  • Requires that personal information on agency files be accurate, complete, relevant, and timely.
  • Requires that agencies obtain information directly from the subject of the record and that information gathered for one purpose may not be used for another purpose.
  • Provides civil remedies for individuals whose rights may have been violated.
  • Provides that the subject of a record may challenge the accuracy of information.
  • Recognizes that legitimate need to restrict disclosure of some information.
  • Requires that each Federal agency publish a description of each system of records maintained by the agency that contains personal information. (See the FTC’s systems of records published in the Federal Register)
  • Restricts the disclosure of personally identifiable information by Federal agencies.

Making Requests

Consult the Making a Request link if you plan to make a Privacy Act request to the Federal Trade Commission.

More Resources

Text of the Privacy Act, A Citizen’s Guide on Using FOIA and the Privacy Act to Request Government Records,


DOJ Overview of the Privacy Act