4-4.4 Evaluating First Under the Privacy Act a Request for Disclosure to the Requester of His or Her Records

When a requester requests the disclosure of records about himself or herself, the records custodian must first evaluate the request under the Privacy Act’s access provisions (see 4-3.2). This is the case even if the request does not cite the Privacy Act. This also applies to a proper request by a third party to access records about an individual at the individual’s request or consent (see 4-3.3.3.e). As provided in 4-3.2 (see 4-3.2.2.b and 4-3.2.9.b), the records custodian must also, in some scenarios, evaluate a request for disclosure to the requester of records about himself or herself under the FOIA’s disclosure provisions in 4-4. This procedure provides the requester with the greatest access to records pertaining to the requester.

Note: A requester’s access to records about himself or herself under the FOIA is different than under the Privacy Act. A requester may qualify as a person under the FOIA (broader definition) (see 4-3.5.c) but not as an individual under the Privacy Act (narrower definition) (see 4-3.2.2.c). In addition, the requested records may qualify as records under the FOIA (broader definition) (see 4-4.5.d) but not qualify as records about the requester in a Postal Service system of records under the Privacy Act (narrower definition) (see 4-3.2.2.e). Further, the FOIA exclusions/exemptions (see 4-4.22 and 4-4.24) are different than the Privacy Act exemptions (see 4-3.2.9), although in some cases the exemptions are similar (but not identical).