Privacy and Civil Liberties at CIA
The United States Government, including the CIA, has a solemn obligation to protect fully the legal rights of all Americans, including freedoms, civil liberties, and privacy rights guaranteed by federal law. The CIA collects, analyzes, and disseminates critical foreign intelligence information to national security policymakers in a manner consistent with this obligation.
All of the CIA’s intelligence activities must be properly authorized, and the collection, retention, or dissemination of information concerning United States persons may only be conducted pursuant to specific procedures approved by the Director of the CIA and the Attorney General. While the protection of national security requires that many of the CIA’s intelligence activities remain secret, in order to improve public understanding and trust and to allow the public to hold CIA to account, CIA has released its procedures for protecting Americans’ personal information and has provided an extensive explanation of the authorizations and limitations regarding such information.
- CIA’s Executive Order 12333, Attorney General Procedures [PDF 13.2MB*]
- Statement on the Release of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Updated Executive Order 12333 Procedures
- Detailed Description of the Attorney General Procedures [PDF 173 KB*]
CIA’s Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties (OPCL) helps to ensure that privacy and civil liberties are integrated into the day-to-day conduct of the Agency’s intelligence mission. OPCL is led by CIA’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer, who serves as the principal advisor to the Director of the CIA regarding privacy and civil liberties matters. OPCL provides privacy and civil liberties guidance regarding the collection and handling of sensitive information in connection with online systems, programs, and enterprises across the Agency. OPCL also informs and trains Agency personnel regarding privacy and civil liberties protections.
Reports of the OPCL - Section 803 Reports:
Complaints Concerning Privacy and Civil Liberties:
Members of the public may contact the CIA Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer to make a complaint regarding possible violations of privacy protections or civil liberties in the administration of CIA programs and operations. A complaint may be sent via postal mail to the following address:
Central Intelligence Agency
Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer
Washington, D.C. 20505
Members of the public may also submit a complaint using the web form. To ensure proper routing, please indicate that your complaint is addressed to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer.
OPCL will review all complaints directed to the PCLO. A complaint must state the possible violation of privacy protections or civil liberties with sufficient detail to allow the PCLO to assess the nature of the complaint and whether a remedy may be appropriate. Due to limited resources, OPCL will not be able to respond to complaints that do not provide sufficiently detailed information. A response by the PCLO will neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of the complaint and/or whether the individual has been subject to CIA action, but will confirm that the complaint has been properly investigated and indicate, when appropriate, that the matter has been remedied or found to be in compliance with applicable law or policy. A complaint also may be referred to the CIA Office of Inspector General or to another Federal Government agency, as appropriate.
If you are seeking to request records related to yourself or another individual, pursuant to the Privacy Act or Freedom of Information Act, please follow the instructions found here:
- CIA’s Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room
- How to File a FOIA Request
- How to File a Privacy Act Request
Additional Privacy and Civil Liberties Authorities and Resources:
- The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription - “A transcription of the Constitution as it was inscribed by Jacob Shallus on parchment (the document on display in the Rotunda at the National Archives Museum). The spelling and punctuation reflects the original.”
- The Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a, as Amended
- Executive Order 12333 (EO12333), United States Intelligence Activities, December 4, 1981 (as Amended by Executive Orders 13284 (2003), 13355 (2004) and 13470 (2008))
- 42 U.S.C. § 2000ee-1, Privacy and Civil Liberties Officers
- Intelligence Community Directive 107, Civil Liberties and Privacy
- CIA’s Privacy Act System of Records Notices (SORNS)
- Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-28), Signals Intelligence Activities
- Minimization Procedures Used by the Central Intelligence Agency in Connection with Acquisitions of Foreign Intelligence Information Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, as Amended (PDF 4.83 MB*)
- IC On the Record - Office of the Director of National Intelligence - Release of 2015 Section 702 Minimization Procedures
- ODNI’s Office of Civil Liberties, Privacy and Transparency
- Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board
- Federal Privacy Council