DHS Publishes Final Rule on DHS/USCIS System Exemptions Due to the Privacy Act

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[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 220 (Tuesday, November 15, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 70638-70639]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-29452]

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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Office of the Secretary

6 CFR Part 5

[Docket No. DHS-2011-0109]

Privacy Act of 1974: Implementation of Exemptions; Department of
Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services-015
Electronic Immigration System-2 Account and Case Management System of
Records

AGENCY: Privacy Office, DHS.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Homeland Security is issuing a final rule to
amend its regulations to exempt portions of an updated and reissued
system of records titled, ``Department of Homeland Security/U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services-015 Electronic Immigration System-
2 Account and Case Management System of Records'' from certain
provisions of the Privacy Act. Specifically, the Department exempts
portions of the ``Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services-015 Electronic Immigration System-2 Account and
Case Management 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 November 15, 2011.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For general questions please contact:
Donald K. Hawkins (202) 272-8000, Privacy Officer, U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, DC
20529. For 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) U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS) published a notice of proposed rulemaking
in the Federal Register, 76 FR 59926, September 28, 2011, 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 the DHS/USCIS-015
Electronic Immigration System-2 Account and Case Management System of
Records. The DHS/USCIS-015 Electronic Immigration System-2 Account and
Case Management system of records notice was published concurrently in
the Federal Register, 76 FR 60070, September 28, 2011, and comments
were invited on both the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and
System of Records Notice (SORN).

Public Comments

    DHS received two comments on the NPRM and no comments on the SORN
which did not address this system of records. After consideration of
public comments, the Department will implement the rulemaking as
proposed.

List of Subjects in 6 CFR Part 5

    Freedom of information; Privacy.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, DHS proposes to amend
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.

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2. Add at the end of Appendix C to Part 5, the following new paragraph
``64'':

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

* * * * *
    64. The DHS/USCIS-015 Electronic Immigration System-2 Account
and Case Management System of Records consists of electronic and
paper records and will be used by DHS and its components. The DHS/
USCIS-015 Electronic Immigration System-2 Account and Case
Management is a repository of information held by USCIS to serve its
mission of processing immigration benefits. This system also
supports certain other DHS programs whose functions include, but are
not limited to, the enforcement of civil and criminal laws;
investigations, inquiries, and proceedings there under; and national
security and intelligence activities. The DHS/USCIS-015 Electronic
Immigration System-2 Account and Case Management 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.
This system is exempted from the following provisions of the Privacy
Act pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(2): 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3); (d);
(e)(1), (e)(4)(G), (e)(4)(H), (e)(4)(I); and (f). Additionally, many
of the functions in this system require retrieving records from law
enforcement systems. Where a record received from another system has
been exempted in that source system under 5 U.S.C. 552a(j)(2), DHS
will claim the same exemptions for those records that are claimed
for the original primary systems of records from which they
originated and claims any additional exemptions in accordance with
this rule. Exemptions from these particular subsections are
justified, on a case-by-case basis determined at the time a request
is made, for the following reasons:
    (a) From subsection (c)(3) (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/or 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 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.

    Dated: November 2, 2011.
Mary Ellen Callahan,
Chief Privacy Officer, Department of Homeland Security.
[FR Doc. 2011-29452 Filed 11-9-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 9111-97-P

Agency: