Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government


28 CFR Part 16

[CPCLO Order No. 014-2012]

Privacy Act of 1974: Implementation

AGENCY: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: The Department of Justice (DOJ or Department) is issuing a final rule for the new Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Privacy Act system of records titled FBI Data Warehouse System, JUSTICE/FBI-022. This system is being exempted from the subsections of the Privacy Act listed below for the reasons set forth in the following text. Information in this system of records relates to law enforcement matters, and the exemptions are necessary to avoid interference with the national security and criminal law enforcement functions and responsibilities of the FBI.
DATES: Effective Date:October 9, 2012.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kristin Meinhardt, Assistant General Counsel, Privacy and Civil Liberties Unit, Office of the General Counsel, FBI, Washington, DC 20535-0001, telephone 202-324-3000.

Notice of the proposed rule with invitation to comment was published on July 10, 2012, at 77 FR 40539. The Department received one comment from a member of the public questioning the legality and appropriateness of the proposed exemptions. The Department has carefully considered the comment but has declined to adopt it because these exemptions are expressly authorized by the Privacy Act and are appropriate and justified for the reasons set forth in the rule.

List of Subjects in 28 CFR Part 16

Administrative practices and procedures, Courts, Freedom of Information, Privacy, Sunshine Act.

Pursuant to the authority vested in the Attorney General by 5 U.S.C. 552a and delegated to me by Attorney General Order 2940-2008, 28 CFR part 16 is amended as follows:

PART 16—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 16 continues to read as follows: Authority:

5 U.S.C. 301, 552, 552a, 552b(g), 553; 18 U.S.C. 4203(a)(1); 28 U.S.C. 509, 510, 534; 31 U.S.C. 3717, 9701.

Subpart E—Exemption of Records Systems Under the Privacy Act 2. Amend § 16.96 to revise paragraphs (v) and (w) to read as follows:
§ 16.96 Exemption of Federal Bureau of Investigation Systems—limited access.

(v) The following system of records is exempt from 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3) and (4);(d)(1), (2), (3), and (4); (e)(1), (2), (3), (4)(G), (H), and (I), (5), and (8); (f); and (g) of the Privacy Act:

(1) FBI Data Warehouse System, (JUSTICE/FBI-022).

(2) These exemptions apply only to the extent that information in this system is subject to exemption pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(j) and (k). Where compliance with an exempted provision could not appear to interfere with or adversely affect interests of the United States or other system stakeholders, the Department of Justice (DOJ) in its sole discretion may waive an exemption in whole or in part; exercise of this discretionary waiver prerogative in a particular matter shall not create any entitlement to or expectation of waiver in that matter or any other matter. As a condition of discretionary waiver, the DOJ in its sole discretion may impose any restrictions deemed advisable by the DOJ (including, but not limited to, restrictions on the location, manner, or scope of notice, access, or amendment).

(w) Exemptions from the particular subsections are justified for the following reasons:

(1) From subsection (c)(3), the requirement that an accounting be made available to the named subject of a record, because this system is exempt from the access provisions of subsection (d). Also, because making available to a record subject the accounting of disclosures from records concerning him/her would specifically reveal any law enforcement or national security investigative interest in the individual by the FBI or agencies that are recipients of the disclosures. Revealing this information could compromise ongoing, authorized law enforcement and intelligence efforts, particularly efforts to identify and defuse any potential acts of terrorism or other potential violations of criminal law. Revealing this information could also permit the record subject to obtain valuable insight concerning the information obtained during any investigation and to take measures to circumvent the investigation.

(2) From subsection (c)(4) notification requirements because this system is exempt from the access and amendment provisions of subsection (d) as well as the accounting of disclosures provision of subsection (c)(3).

(3) From subsections (d)(1), (2), (3), and (4) and (e)(4)(G) and (H) because these provisions concern individual access to and amendment of law enforcement, intelligence and counterintelligence, and counterterrorism records, and compliance could alert the subject of an authorized law enforcement or intelligence activity about that particular activity and the investigative interest of the FBI or other law enforcement or intelligence agencies. Providing access could compromise sensitive information classified to protect national security; disclose information that would constitute an unwarranted invasion of another's personal privacy; reveal a sensitive investigative or intelligence technique; could provide information that would allow a subject to avoid detection or apprehension; or constitute a potential danger to the health or safety of law enforcement personnel, confidential sources, and witnesses. The FBI takes seriously its obligation to maintain accurate records despite its assertion of this exemption, and to the extent it, in its sole discretion, agrees to permit amendment or correction of FBI records, it will share that information in appropriate cases with subjects of the information.

(4) From subsection (e)(1) because it is not always possible to know in advance what information is relevant and necessary for law enforcement and intelligence purposes. The relevance and utility of certain information that may have a nexus to terrorism or other crimes may not always be evident until and unless it is vetted and matched with other sources of information that are necessarily and lawfully maintained by the FBI.

(5) From subsections (e)(2) and (3) because application of these provisions could present a serious impediment to efforts to solve crimes and improve national security. Application of these provisions would put the subject of an investigation on notice of that fact and allow the subject an opportunity to engage in conduct intended to impede that activity or avoid apprehension.

(6) From subsection (e)(4)(I), to the extent that this subsection is interpreted to require more detail regarding the record sources in this system than has been published in theFederal Register. Should the subsection be so interpreted, exemption from this provision is necessary to protect the sources of law enforcement and intelligence information and to protect the privacy and safety of witnesses and informants and others who provide information to the FBI. Further, greater specificity of properly classified records could compromise national security.

(7) From subsection (e)(5) because in the collection of information for authorized law enforcement and intelligence purposes, it is impossible to determine in advance what information is accurate, relevant, timely and complete. With time, seemingly irrelevant or untimely information may acquire new significance when new details are brought to light. Additionally, the information may aid in establishing patterns of activity and providing criminal or intelligence leads. It could impede investigative progress if it were necessary to assure relevance, accuracy, timeliness and completeness of all information obtained during the scope of an investigation. Further, some of the records in this system come from other agencies and it would be administratively impossible for the FBI to vouch for the compliance of these agencies with this provision.

(8) From subsection (e)(8) because to require individual notice of disclosure of information due to compulsory legal process would pose an impossible administrative burden on the FBI and may alert the subjects of law enforcement investigations, who might be otherwise unaware, to the fact of those investigations.

(9) From subsections (f) and (g) to the extent that the system is exempt from other specific subsections of the Privacy Act.

Dated: September 27, 2012. Joo Y. Chung, Acting Chief Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer.