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The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment on proposed modifications to its system of records notices under the Privacy Act to ensure the Commission can disclose records to another agency in the event of a data breach.

The Privacy Act authorizes federal agencies to adopt routine uses of data as long as they are consistent with the purpose for which the information was collected. Acting on a recommendation from the President’s Identity Theft Task Force, the FTC in 2007 published a new routine use based on model language recommended from the Justice Department that allowed for disclosure of records to appropriate persons and entities in order to respond to a data breach. Since then, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) determined that the model language was too narrow and that agencies needed authority to make disclosures that go beyond those contemplated by the original routine use.

Based on additional guidance provided last year by OMB, the FTC’s proposed modification, which will be published in the Federal Register shortly, more specifically addresses harm to individuals and expands the concept to make clear that it is not limited to identity theft or financial harm. In addition, the proposed modification adds a second routine use to allow the FTC to disclose information to another federal agency when that agency determines that the information is reasonably needed by that agency to respond to a breach. The Commission will be accepting public comments on the notice for 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register. Instructions for filing comments appear in the “Supplementary Information” section of the notice.

The Commission vote to approve the notice publication in the Federal Register was 2-0.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

Contact Information

Juliana Gruenwald Henderson
Office of Public Affairs