The Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, 5 U.S.C. § 552a

The purpose of the Privacy Act 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 stemming from federal agencies’ collection, maintenance, use, and disclosure of personal information about them.

The Privacy Act focuses on four basic guidelines:

  1. To restrict disclosure of personally identifiable records maintained by agencies.

  2. To grant individuals increased rights of access to agency records maintained on themselves.

  3. To grant individuals the right to seek amendment of agency records maintained on themselves upon a showing that the records are not accurate, relevant, timely or complete.

  4. To establish a code of "fair information practices" which requires agencies to comply with statutory norms for collection, maintenance, and dissemination or records.

Right to privacy and access to military records.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act provide balance between the right of the public to obtain information from military service records, and the right of the veteran to protect his/her privacy. If you are a member of the general public, limited amounts of information can be released to you from an individual’s record. If you are the next of kin of a deceased veteran you may, under certain circumstances, be entitled to greater access to the deceased veteran’s record than may a member of the public. Specify your relationship to the veteran. You must sufficiently identify the person whose record is requested, so that the record can be located with a reasonable amount of effort. The procedures to release information are based on restrictions imposed by the military services consistent with Department of Defense regulations and the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974.

You can send a Privacy Act request to the U.S. Army Freedom of Information Act Office, 9301 Chapek Rd. Bldg 1458, Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-5605. Requests can also be sent electronically by E-mail: