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60 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 1509 (1991-1992)
Increased Invulnerability of Incorrect Records Maintained by Law Enforcement Agencies: Doe v. FBI

handle is hein.journals/gwlr60 and id is 1517 raw text is: Privacy Act

Gregory R. Firehock
American citizens naturally suspect the accumulation of power
that accompanies the government's ability to collect, maintain, use,
and disseminate personal information about them. In our demo-
cratic society, however, citizens can, through their congressional
representatives, establish safeguards against intentional or inadver-
tent abuse of that power. The federal Privacy Act of 19741 serves
precisely that function.
This Chapter examines an individual's right to amend erroneous
information about herself contained in United States government
records. Under the Privacy Act, as construed by the United States
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Doe v. FBI,2
the FBI may exempt certain systems of records from, among other
things, the duty to amend or expunge inaccurate, irrelevant, out-
dated, or incomplete records.3 In Doe, the FBI based a background
check of an applicant for a government job on records concerning
1. 5 U.S.C. § 552a (1988 & Supp. II 1990).
2. 936 F.2d 1346 (D.C. Cir. 1991) (Edwards, J., joined by Ginsburg, D.H.,J., with
Sentelle, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part).
3. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(j)(2), (k)(2) (1988).
June 1992 Vol. 60 No. 5


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