[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 250 (Thursday, December 29, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 81787-81789]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-33428]



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Rules and Regulations
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Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 250 / Thursday, December 29, 2011 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 81787]]



DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Office of the Secretary

6 CFR Part 5

[Docket No. DHS-2011-0100]


Privacy Act of 1974: Implementation of Exemptions; Department of 
Homeland Security/ALL-030 Use of the Terrorist Screening Database 
System of Records

AGENCY: Privacy Office, DHS.

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Department of Homeland Security is issuing a final rule to 
amend its regulations to exempt portions of a newly established system 
of records titled, ``Department of Homeland Security/ALL-030 Use of the 
Terrorist Screening Database System of Records'' from certain 
provisions of the Privacy Act. Specifically, the Department exempts 
portions of the ``Department of Homeland Security/ALL-030 Use of the 
Terrorist Screening Database System of Records'' from one or more 
provisions of the Privacy Act because of criminal, civil, and 
administrative enforcement requirements.

DATES: Effective Date: This final rule is effective December 29, 2011.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For general questions and privacy 
issues please contact: Mary Ellen Callahan (703) 235-0780), Chief 
Privacy Officer, Privacy Office, Department of Homeland Security, 
Washington, DC 20528.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a notice of 
proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register, July 6, 2011, 76 FR 
39315, proposing to exempt portions of the system of records from one 
or more provisions of the Privacy Act because of criminal, civil, and 
administrative enforcement requirements. The system of records is 
titled, ``DHS/ALL-030 Use of the Terrorist Screening Database System of 
Records.'' The DHS/ALL-030 Use of the Terrorist Screening Database 
system of records notice (SORN) was published concurrently in the 
Federal Register, July 6, 2011, 76 FR 39408, and comments were invited 
on both the NPRM and SORN.

Public Comments

    DHS received a total of two comments, one on the NPRM and one that 
addressed both the NPRM and the SORN.

Comments on the NPRM

    DHS received two comments on the NPRM. One of the comments on the 
NPRM also included comments on the SORN. That comment will be addressed 
in its entirety under SORN below. The one comment exclusively on the 
NPRM was from a private individual. The individual raised a series of 
philosophical questions regarding the policy behind homeland security 
issues that were unrelated to this proposed rulemaking. The individual 
also mentioned several times that this is a ``new database.'' This is 
not a new database. The system of records addressed by this NPRM and 
the accompanying SORN represents a mirror copy of the Department of 
Justice (DOJ)/Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)-019 Terrorist 
Screening Records System of Records (August 22, 2007, 72 FR 47073). The 
same rules outlined in the DOJ/FBI-019 Terrorist Screening Records 
System of Records (August 22, 2007, 72 FR 47073) transfer and apply. 
The individual goes on to discuss the historical relevance of the 
Terrorist Screening Database and outlines the positives and negatives 
of the system. The individual also raises concerns about the security 
of the system. The DHS mirrored copy of the system will receive the 
same security and protection as it does at the FBI and Terrorist 
Screening Center (TSC). The individual also speculates that, as a 
matter of fiscal priority, the system could be subject to less funding 
over time based on priorities. The system will meet the same 
requirements at DHS as it does at FBI/TSC. The individual concludes the 
general comments by saying the benefits outweigh the risks. On Privacy 
Act exemptions, the individual states that the proposed rule was nicely 
drafted. The individual asks the question of who will make the 
determination on when an exemption will be applied. In response to that 
question, that determination will be made by DHS privacy or disclosure 
staff in consultation with counsel. If the exemption is applied and an 
appeal is necessary, individuals may appeal the decision. That process 
can be found at www.dhs.gov/foia. The individual expresses appreciation 
for the Department's decision to consider requests on a case-by-case 
basis when applying exemptions. The individual states that the system 
should be implemented and that it be a model for other agencies.

Comment on the SORN

    DHS received one comment on the SORN from a public interest 
research center that was joined in filing its comments by seventeen 
other privacy, consumer rights, and civil rights organizations. The 
comment addressed both the NPRM and SORN jointly and is addressed in 
this section. The authors start by stating that DHS should ``suspend 
the proposal pending a full review of the privacy, security, and legal 
implications of the program, including compliance with the Federal 
Privacy Act.'' The NPRM and SORN received internal coordination and 
clearance by program and compliance officials, including, but not 
limited to, the Office of General Counsel and the Chief Privacy 
Officer. The organizations further stated that ``if the agency (DHS) 
proceeds with the Watch List System (WLS) program, the system must, at 
a minimum: (1) Adhere to Congress's intent to maintain transparent and 
secure government recordkeeping systems; (2) provide individuals 
judicially enforceable rights of notice, access, and correction; (3) 
conform to a revised SORN and NPRM that includes requirements for the 
agency (DHS) to respect individuals' rights to control their 
information in possession of Federal agencies, as the Privacy Act 
requires; and (4) premise its technological and security approach on 
decentralization.'' With respect to these points, the Department 
follows the complete privacy legal framework as well as additional 
privacy policy it has

[[Page 81788]]

put in place. The organizations go on to state that the Department is 
intentionally circumventing a number of provisions under the Privacy 
Act as well as the intent of the Privacy Act. As noted above, the NPRM 
and SORN received internal coordination and clearance by program and 
compliance officials, including, but not limited to, the Office of 
General Counsel and the Chief Privacy Officer. This addresses the 
author's points covering ``meaningful privacy protections Congress 
established in the Privacy Act.'' The fact that Privacy Act exemptions 
are taken within this system of records, and explained within the NPRM, 
does not mean that the act is illegal or outside of the intent of 
Congress. The exemptions are contemplated by the Privacy Act and the 
Department implemented them consistent with that statute. The 
Department maintains that, for a variety of national security and law 
enforcement purposes, the exemptions taken within the system of 
records, and outlined in the NRPM, are necessary and are unchanged. The 
organizations go on to refute the Privacy Act exemptions claimed and 
recommend changing the way the Department does business including the 
way it conducts investigations. The organizations recommend that the 
Department void the claimed exemptions. The Department maintains that, 
for national security and law enforcement purposes, the exemptions 
taken within the system of records, and outlined in the NRPM, are 
necessary and remain in place. The organizations also go on to cite 
concerns regarding privacy risks contemplated in previously published 
Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) where the Terrorist Screening 
Database (TSDB) is used. In response, the Department emphasizes that 
this is not a new database. This NPRM and SORN represent a mirror copy 
of the DOJ/FBI-019 Terrorist Screening Records System of Records 
(August 22, 2007, 72 FR 47073). The same rules outlined in the FBI SORN 
transfer and apply. The Department has taken additional steps to 
further ensure privacy protections by conducting appropriate privacy 
analysis through a published PIA as well as SORN. Doing so provides 
additional transparency on the risks, mitigations, and privacy rules 
associated with maintaining a mirror copy of the TSDB.
    After consideration of public comments and reviewing the NPRM, the 
Department determined it did not require exemptions to subsections 
(e)(12) or (h) of the Privacy Act. Thus, the Department has removed 
proposed paragraphs (i) and (k) from the Final Rule. No additional 
changes were made.

List of Subjects in 6 CFR Part 5

    Freedom of information, Privacy.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, DHS amends Chapter I of 
Title 6, Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:

PART 5--DISCLOSURE OF RECORDS AND INFORMATION

0
1. The authority citation for Part 5 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  6 U.S.C. 101 et seq.; Pub. L. 107-296, 116 Stat. 
2135; 5 U.S.C. 301. Subpart A also issued under 5 U.S.C. 552. 
Subpart B also issued under 5 U.S.C. 552a.


0
2. Add at the end of Appendix C to Part 5, the following new paragraph 
``66'':

Appendix C to Part 5--DHS Systems of Records Exempt From the Privacy 
Act

* * * * *
    66. The DHS/ALL-030 Use of Terrorist Screening Database System of 
Records consists of electronic and paper records and will be used by 
DHS and its components. The DHS/ALL-030 Use of Terrorist Screening 
Database System of Records is a repository of information held by DHS 
in connection with its several and varied missions and functions, 
including, but not limited to the enforcement of civil and criminal 
laws; investigations, inquiries, and proceedings there under; national 
security and intelligence activities; and protection of the President 
of the U.S. or other individuals pursuant to Section 3056 and 3056A of 
Title 18. The DHS/ALL-030 Use of Terrorist Screening Database System of 
Records contains information that is collected by, on behalf of, in 
support of, or in cooperation with DHS and its components and may 
contain personally identifiable information collected by other Federal, 
state, local, tribal, foreign, or international government agencies. 
Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(j)(2), the Secretary of Homeland Security has 
exempted this system from the following provisions of the Privacy Act, 
subject to the limitations set forth in 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3) and (c)(4); 
(d); (e)(1), (e)(2), (e)(3), (e)(4)(G), (e)(4)(H), (e)(4)(I), (e)(5), 
(e)(8); (f); and (g)(1). Additionally, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(1) 
and (k)(2), the Secretary of Homeland Security has exempted this system 
from the following provisions of the Privacy Act, subject to the 
limitation set forth in 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3); (d); (e)(1), (e)(4)(G), 
(e)(4)(H), (e)(4)(I); and (f). Exemptions from these particular 
subsections are justified, on a case-by-case basis to be determined at 
the time a request is made, for the following reasons:
    (a) From subsection (c)(3) and (c)(4) (Accounting for Disclosures) 
because release of the accounting of disclosures could alert the 
subject of an investigation of an actual or potential criminal, civil, 
or regulatory violation to the existence of that investigation and 
reveal investigative interest on the part of DHS as well as the 
recipient agency. Disclosure of the accounting would therefore present 
a serious impediment to law enforcement efforts and/or efforts to 
preserve national security. Disclosure of the accounting would also 
permit the individual who is the subject of a record to impede the 
investigation, to tamper with witnesses or evidence, and to avoid 
detection or apprehension, which would undermine the entire 
investigative process.
    (b) From subsection (d) (Access to Records) because access to the 
records contained in this system of records could inform the subject of 
an investigation of an actual or potential criminal, civil, or 
regulatory violation to the existence of that investigation and reveal 
investigative interest on the part of DHS or another agency. Access to 
the records could permit the individual who is the subject of a record 
to impede the investigation, to tamper with witnesses or evidence, and 
to avoid detection or apprehension. Amendment of the records could 
interfere with ongoing investigations and law enforcement activities 
and would impose an unreasonable administrative burden by requiring 
investigations to be continually reinvestigated. In addition, 
permitting access and amendment to such information could disclose 
security-sensitive information that could be detrimental to homeland 
security.
    (c) From subsection (e)(1) (Relevancy and Necessity of Information) 
because in the course of investigations into potential violations of 
Federal law, the accuracy of information obtained or introduced 
occasionally may be unclear, or the information may not be strictly 
relevant or necessary to a specific investigation. In the interests of 
effective law enforcement, it is appropriate to retain all information 
that may aid in establishing patterns of unlawful activity.
    (d) From subsection (e)(2) (Collection of Information from 
Individuals) because requiring that information be collected from the 
subject of an investigation would alert the subject to the nature or 
existence of the investigation, thereby interfering with

[[Page 81789]]

that investigation and related law enforcement activities.
    (e) From subsection (e)(3) (Notice to Subjects) because providing 
such detailed information could impede law enforcement by compromising 
the existence of a confidential investigation or reveal the identity of 
witnesses or confidential informants.
    (f) From subsections (e)(4)(G), (e)(4)(H), and (e)(4)(I) (Agency 
Requirements) and (f) (Agency Rules), because portions of this system 
are exempt from the individual access provisions of subsection (d) for 
the reasons noted above, and therefore DHS is not required to establish 
requirements, rules, or procedures with respect to such access. 
Providing notice to individuals with respect to existence of records 
pertaining to them in the system of records or otherwise setting up 
procedures pursuant to which individuals may access and view records 
pertaining to themselves in the system would undermine investigative 
efforts and reveal the identities of witnesses, and potential 
witnesses, and confidential informants.
    (g) From subsection (e)(5) (Collection of Information) because with 
the collection of information for law enforcement purposes, it is 
impossible to determine in advance what information is accurate, 
relevant, timely, and complete. Compliance with subsection (e)(5) would 
preclude DHS agents from using their investigative training and 
exercise of good judgment to both conduct and report on investigations.
    (h) From subsection (e)(8) (Notice on Individuals) because 
compliance would interfere with DHS's ability to obtain, serve, and 
issue subpoenas, warrants, and other law enforcement mechanisms that 
may be filed under seal and could result in disclosure of investigative 
techniques, procedures, and evidence.
    (i) From subsection (g)(1) (Civil Remedies) to the extent that the 
system is exempt from other specific subsections of the Privacy Act.

    Dated: November 23, 2011.
Mary Ellen Callahan,
Chief Privacy Officer, Department of Homeland Security.
[FR Doc. 2011-33428 Filed 12-28-11; 8:45 am]
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