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Compliance of Address-Correction Program Questioned

PRIVACY LAW—U.S.

January 4, 2012

United States Post Office (USPS) memos obtained by The Washington Times are drawing attention to privacy concerns with a long-standing USPS program offering credit, marketing and data-service providers updated names and addresses. "The Privacy Act prohibits federal agencies from selling personal information unless specifically authorized by law," the report states. The USPS says the program falls within "routine use," allowed under the statute, and a memo proposing legislation to "immunize the...services from any challenge under the Privacy Act" was "offered to make stronger what the Postal Service already believes is a strong legal position." Prof. Peter Swire of Ohio State University says, "The tricky question is whether the routine use is permitted under the statute," adding, "I think it's not clear."
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