U.S. Department of Commerce

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Office

Privacy Act Requests

Records About Yourself

The Privacy Act (PA) of 1974 is a Federal law that is set forth in Title 5, Section 552a, of the United States Code (5 U.S.C.552a), as amended. The purpose of the PA is to balance the Government's need to maintain information about individuals with the rights of individuals to be protected against unwarranted invasions of their privacy resulting from the collection, maintenance, use, and disclosure of personal information. In general, the PA allows individuals to learn how the Federal Government collects, maintains, uses, and disseminates records containing personal information. It also safeguards confidentiality by limiting or restricting disclosure of personally identifiable records maintained by Federal agencies. The PA allows individuals to gain access to their own personal records (unless the requested records are exempted from disclosure), and to seek correction or amendment of Federally maintained records that are inaccurate, incomplete, untimely, or irrelevant. As such, the PA establishes a "code of fair information practices," which requires Federal agencies to comply with statutory norms for collecting, maintaining, and disseminating records containing information about individuals.

Under the Privacy Act, you may request copies of any Census Bureau records that:

  • are about you, and
  • are filed and can be retrieved by your name or by a personal identifier (such as your Social Security number).

You can also ask the Census Bureau to correct records that are inaccurate, incomplete, untimely, or irrelevant.

In some cases, the Privacy Act may not allow release of your personal records.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Office of Analysis and Executive Support (Policy Office) | 1-301-763-6440 | Last Revised: April 24, 2013