Skip to Content

Rule

Privacy Act of 1974; Systems of Records

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

Start Preamble Start Printed Page 20523

AGENCY:

Privacy Office; Department of Homeland Security.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Department of Homeland Security is issuing a final rule to exempt two Privacy Act systems of records from certain provisions of the Privacy Act pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(j) and (k). These systems are the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act System of Records and the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Matters System of Records.

DATES:

This final rule is effective April 21, 2006.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Maureen Cooney, Acting Chief Privacy Officer, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC, by telephone (571) 227-3813 or by facsimile (571) 227-4171.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

On December 4, 2004, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a notice of proposed rulemaking (69 FR 70402) to exempt two Privacy Act systems of records from the following provisions of the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3), (d), (e)(1), (e)(4)(G), (H), and (I), and (f). The first system of records, DHS/ALL 001, DHS Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Privacy Act Records Systems, allows the Department and its components to maintain and retrieve FOIA and Privacy Act files by the personal identifiers of the individuals who have submitted requests for records under either statute. The second system of records, DHS-CRCL-001, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Matters, covers records alleging abuses of civil rights and civil liberties that are submitted to the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

Two comments from one individual were received on this notice of proposed rulemaking. The comments discussed the importance of the transparency that comes from compliance with the FOIA and appeared to take issue generally with DHS's proposal to exempt the two record systems covered by the proposed rule, DHS/ALL 001 and CRCL-001, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Matters, from certain provisions of the Privacy Act.

While DHS agrees that the FOIA serves important transparency purposes, it nevertheless believes that the exemptions it has sought for these two record systems are narrowly tailored to protect agency interests. Because it is possible that either system of records will contain information that comes from law enforcement or national security files, which are themselves exempt from the Privacy Act, allowing access to that information derived from such files could result in harm to the government. In appropriate circumstances, however, the applicable exemptions may be waived if no harm to the law enforcement or national security interests of DHS would result.

Accordingly, with the exception of two non-substantive edits to correct an error, DHS is implementing the rule as proposed.

Pursuant to the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601-612, DHS certifies that these regulations will not significantly affect a substantial number of small entities. The final rule imposes no duties or obligations on small entities. Further, in accordance with the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. 3501, DHS has determined that this final rule would not impose new recordkeeping, application, reporting, or other types of information collection requirements.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 6 CFR Part 5

End List of Subjects Start Amendment Part

For the reasons stated in the preamble, DHS is amending Chapter I of Title 6, Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:

End Amendment Part Start Part

PART 5—DISCLOSURE OF RECORDS AND INFORMATION

End Part Start Amendment Part

1. The authority citation for part 5 continues to read as follows:

End Amendment Part Start Authority

Authority: Pub. L. 107-296, 116 Stat. 2135, 6 U.S.C. 101 et seq.; 5 U.S.C. 301. Subpart A also issued under 5 U.S.C. 552. Subpart B also issued under 5 U.S.C. 552a.

End Authority Start Amendment Part

2. Add Appendix C to part 5 to read as follows:

End Amendment Part Start Appendix

Appendix C—DHS Systems of Records Exempt From the Privacy Act

This Appendix implements provisions of the Privacy Act of 1974 that permit the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to exempt its systems of records from provisions of the Act. During the course of normal agency operations, exempt materials from other systems of records may become part of the records in these and other DHS systems. To the extent that copies of records from other exempt systems of records are entered into any DHS system, DHS hereby claims the same exemptions for those records that are claimed for the original primary systems of records from which they originated and claims any additional exemptions in accordance with this rule.

Portions of the following DHS systems of records are exempt from certain provisions of the Privacy Act pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552(j) and (k):

1. DHS/ALL 001, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Privacy Act (PA) Record System allows the DHS and its components to maintain and retrieve FOIA and Privacy Act files by personal identifiers associated with the persons submitting requests for information under each statute. Pursuant to exemptions (j)(2), (k)(1), (k)(2) and (k)(5) of the Privacy Act, portions of this system are exempt from 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3); (d); (e)(1); (e)(4)(G), (H) and (I) and (f). Exemptions from the particular subsections are justified, on a case by case basis to be determined at the time a request is made, for the following reasons:

(a) From subsection (c)(3) (Accounting for Disclosures) because release of the accounting of disclosures could alert the subject of an investigation of an actual or potential criminal, civil, or regulatory violation to the existence of the investigation and reveal investigative interest on the part of DHS as well as the recipient agency. Disclosure of the accounting would therefore present a serious impediment to law enforcement efforts and/or efforts to preserve national security. Disclosure of the accounting would also permit the individual who is the subject of a record to impede the investigation and avoid detection or apprehension, which undermines the entire system. Start Printed Page 20524

(b) From subsection (d) (Access to Records) because access to the records contained in this system of records could inform the subject of an investigation of an actual or potential criminal, civil, or regulatory violation to the existence of the investigation and reveal investigative interest on the part of DHS or another agency. Access to the records would permit the individual who is the subject of a record to impede the investigation and avoid detection or apprehension. Amendment of the records would interfere with ongoing investigations and law enforcement activities and impose an impossible administrative burden by requiring investigations to be continuously reinvestigated. The information contained in the system may also include properly classified information, the release of which would pose a threat to national defense and/or foreign policy. In addition, permitting access and amendment to such information also could disclose security-sensitive information that could be detrimental to homeland security.

(c) From subsection (e)(1) (Relevancy and Necessity of Information) because in the course of investigations into potential violations of federal law, the accuracy of information obtained or introduced, occasionally may be unclear or the information may not be strictly relevant or necessary to a specific investigation. In the interests of effective enforcement of federal laws, it is appropriate to retain all information that may aid in establishing patterns of unlawful activity.

(d) From subsections (e)(4)(G), (H) and (I) (Agency Requirements), and (f) (Agency Rules), because portions of this system are exempt from the access provisions of subsection (d).

2. DHS-CRCL-001, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Matters, which will cover allegations of abuses of civil rights and civil liberties that are submitted to the Office of CRCL. Pursuant to exemptions (k)(1), (k)(2) and (k)(5) of the Privacy Act, portions of this system are exempt from 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3); (d); (e)(1); (e)(4)(G), (H) and (I) and (f). Exemptions from the particular subsections are justified, on a case by case basis to be determined at the time a request is made, for the following reasons:

(a) From subsection (c)(3) (Accounting for Disclosures) because release of the accounting of disclosures could alert the subject of an investigation of an actual or potential criminal, civil, or regulatory violation to the existence of the investigation and reveal investigative interest on the part of DHS or another agency. Disclosure of the accounting would therefore present a serious impediment to law enforcement efforts and efforts to preserve national security. Disclosure of the accounting would also permit the individual who is the subject of a record to impede the investigation and avoid detection or apprehension, which undermines the entire system.

(b) From subsection (d) (Access to Records) because access to the records contained in this system of records could inform the subject of an investigation of an actual or potential criminal, civil, or regulatory violation to the existence of the investigation and reveal investigative interest on the part of DHS as well as the recipient agency. Access to the records would permit the individual who is the subject of a record to impede the investigation and avoid detection or apprehension. Amendment of the records would interfere with ongoing investigations and law enforcement activities and impose an impossible administrative burden by requiring investigations to be continuously reinvestigated. The information contained in the system may also include properly classified information, the release of which would pose a threat to national defense and/or foreign policy. In addition, permitting access and amendment to such information also could disclose security-sensitive information that could be detrimental to homeland security.

(c) From subsection (e)(1) (Relevancy and Necessity of Information) because in the course of investigations into potential violations of federal law, the accuracy of information obtained or introduced, occasionally may be unclear or the information may not be strictly relevant or necessary to a specific investigation. In the interests of effective enforcement of federal laws, it is appropriate to retain all information that may aid in establishing patterns of unlawful activity.

(d) From subsections (e)(4)(G), (H) and (I) (Agency Requirements), and (f) (Agency Rules), because this system is exempt from the access provisions of subsection (d).

End Appendix Start Signature

Dated: April 13, 2006.

Maureen Cooney,

Acting Chief Privacy Officer.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 06-3791 Filed 4-20-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4410-10-P