The California Department of Justice, Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit assists individuals with identity theft and other privacy-related concerns. Information is available on privacy laws, consumer and business privacy, identity theft, and data breaches.
California Department of Justice
Attorney General's Office
1300 "I" Street
Sacramento, CA 95814-2919
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
Phone: (916) 445-9555
Public Inquiry Unit: (916) 210-6276
(800) 952-5225 (Toll-free in California)
Fax: (916) 323-5341
The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) is a nonprofit consumer organization that provides consumer information about Background Checks and other Workplace Privacy Issues; Financial Privacy; Medical Records; Public and Government Records. A fact sheet discussing government public records and confidential records (DMV, voting, property, court, postal address, etc.) is available at www.privacyrights.org
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
3100 - 5th Ave., Suite B
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 298-5681 Fax
Federal Bureau of Investigation records
Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts requests:
Consumers may request information that may be found in the FBI’s Central Records System. Information may be about an organization, business, investigation, historical event, or incident, a third party, a deceased person, or about themselves.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Attn: FOI/PA Request
Record/Information Dissemination Section
170 Marcel Drive
Winchester, VA 22602-4843
Fax: (540) 868-4391/4997
For instructions on how to submit a Freedom of Information Act request: https://www.fbi.gov/services/information-management/foipa/requesting-fbi-records
An FBI Identification Record, often referred to as a Criminal History Record or Rap Sheet, is a listing of certain information taken from fingerprint submissions retained by the FBI. An individual may request a copy of his or her own FBI Identification Record for personal review or to challenge information on the Record.
Federal Bureau of Investigations
FBI CJIS Division – Summary Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, West Virginia 26306
For instructions on how to submit a criminal history record request: https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks
California Department of Justice criminal history
Access to criminal history summary records maintained by the California Department of Justice is restricted by law to legitimate law enforcement purposes and authorized Applicant Agencies. Individuals have the right to request a copy of their own criminal history record from the department to review the information for accuracy and completeness.
If you believe there is a discrepancy in your criminal history record, you can obtain a copy of your California criminal history record by completing the form BCIA 8016RR, REQUEST FOR LIVE SCAN SERVICE. The form is available online by clicking on the link, Criminal Records - Request Your Own Criminal Records - Request Your Own
California Department of Justice
Bureau of Criminal Information and Analysis
ATTN: Record Review Unit
P.O. Box 903417
Sacramento, CA 94203-4170
Public records are just that---public. Public records may also be used by private investigators, law enforcement officials, and other government agencies. The most common government records are:
- California Department of Motor Vehicles Driver Licenses
- California Department of Motor Vehicles Car Registration Records
- Voter Registration Records
- Birth Certificates
- Marriage Certificates
- Death Certificates
- Property Records
- Court Records
- Divorce Record
- Arrest Records (but not criminal)
- Postal address information
- Social welfare information such as Medicare records and social security information is generally confidential.
- Tax information, both federal and state tax information, is confidential.
- School records are confidential. A person over 18 must authorize the release of individual records before others can view them, including parents. Parents or guardians have control over the records of children under 18 years.
- Public library records are confidential under the California Public Records Act. All registration and circulation records of any library which receives public funds may be disclosed for library employees to do their job, by order of superior court, or if the person authorizes their release.
- Criminal history information compiled by local and state criminal justice departments is confidential.
- Medical records are confidential until a person allows access to those records by signing a "blanket waiver" or "general consent form". These signed forms allow a health care provider to release a person's medical information to government agencies, insurance companies, employers and others.
- Licensing Agency - investigation files are confidential.
FEDERAL PRIVACY LAWS
The two main federal privacy laws are the Privacy Act of 1974 and the Freedom of Information Act; these laws apply to federal government agencies. The Privacy Act deals with keeping government records on individuals confidential. The Freedom of Information Act is commonly used to obtain access to government files.
Privacy Act (Federal)
The Privacy Act gives an individual the right to:
- See and copy files that the federal government maintains on him or her;
- Find out who else has had access to the information;
- Request a change in any information that is not accurate or relevant.
A government agency is required to:
- Respond to a request for information within 10 days;
- Notify the public about the types of files they maintain;
- Inform the public how they use the information;
- Make sure the information is relevant;
- Make sure the information is not used for any purpose other than the one for which it was initially collected.
If a citizen is denied access to his or her records, that individual can appeal in court. A citizen may also take a government agency to court if he or she believes it has improperly disclosed information about that person, or if he or she wants to block impending disclosures.
Freedom of Information Act (Federal)
This act was designed to help individuals obtain information about the actions of the Federal government. It requires that citizens be given access to Federal government records unless disclosure involves:
- Internal agency memos
- Trade secrets
- Law enforcement activities
- Violating an individual's privacy interests
- Civil service exams (to the extent it would affect the fairness of the tests)
- The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
- Personnel matters
- Classification documents
- Confidential government sources
If the agency denies a request for information, it must tell the individual within 10 days. A citizen may appeal the denial either within the agency itself or in court.
STATE PRIVACY AND PUBLIC RECORDS
California has two state laws which are similar to federal legislation: the California Information Practices Act and the California Public Records Act.
California Information Practices Act (State)
The California Information Practices Act applies only to state agencies. It is similar to the federal Privacy Act and provides an individual access to information about an individual held by state agencies; however, the Information Practices Act does not require the state to publish a list of the type of records agencies create.
If an individual requests information, the state agency must respond within 30 to 60 days. A person can be denied his or her records for the same reasons under the Privacy Act. If a request is denied, the individual must be told the reason for the denial.
The Information Practices Act does not cover city or county government records. Local governments are free to make their own laws in this area.
California Public Records Act (State)
California Public Records Act is similar to the federal Freedom of Information Act and covers state, city, and county boards, special commissions, agencies and school districts. With a few exceptions, all records from these bodies are considered public documents.