Data security and privacy issues are affecting everyone – even the federal government.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently adopted final amendments to its system of records notices under the Privacy Act of 1974 (Act).  In part, the Act authorized federal agencies to adopt routine uses of agency records, as long as they were compatible with the purpose for which the information was originally collected.

The terminology “routine uses” was updated in 2007 based on language recommended by the Justice Department, allowing the disclosure of records to appropriate persons and entities in order to respond to a data breach.  It has since been determined that the language used in 2007 was too narrow and that agencies need the authority to make disclosures that go beyond those anticipated by the original routine use.

The final amendments specify that “harm to individuals” may justify a routine use disclosure.  The amendments also add a second routine use, so that the FTC will now have the ability to disclose records to another federal agency, if it is reasonably needed to respond to a data breach.

For more information, visit the Notice by the Federal Trade Commission.

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