DHS Exempts Portions of IDENT System From Privacy Act
The Department of Homeland Security issued a final rule (PDF) on July 16, 2007, that exempts portions of the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) system of records from certain provisions of the Privacy Act because of criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement requirements. IDENT is the primary repository of biometric information held by the DHS in connection with the enforcement of civil and criminal laws, including immigration law; related investigations, inquiries, and proceedings; and national security and intelligence activities.
Specifically, the DHS said the exemptions are required to preclude the subjects of these activities from frustrating related processes; to avoid disclosure of activity techniques; to protect the identities and physical safety of confidential informants and of immigration and border management and law enforcement personnel; to ensure the agency’s ability to obtain information from third parties and other sources; to protect the privacy of third parties; and to safeguard classified information. Disclosure of information to the subject of the inquiry could also permit the subject to avoid detection or apprehension, the DHS said, noting that “the exemptions are standard law enforcement and national security exemptions exercised by a large number of Federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. In appropriate circumstances, where compliance would not appear to interfere with or adversely affect the law enforcement purposes of this system and the overall law enforcement process, the applicable exemptions may be waived.”