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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily

[Federal Register: February 3, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 22)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 5491-5495]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr03fe10-2]                         

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

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Office of the Secretary

6 CFR Part 5

[Docket No. DHS-2009-0052]

 
Privacy Act of 1974: Implementation of Exemptions; Department of 
Homeland Security/U.S. Customs and Border Protection--007 Border 
Crossing Information 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 Department of Homeland 
Security/U.S. Customs and Border Protection system of records entitled 
the, ``Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Customs and Border 
Protection--007 Border Crossing Information System of Records.'' 
Specifically, the Department exempts portions of the Department of 
Homeland Security/U.S. Customs and Border

[[Page 5492]]

Protection--007 Border Crossing Information System of Records from 
provisions of the Privacy Act because of criminal, civil, and 
administrative enforcement requirements.

DATES: Effective Date: This final rule is effective February 3, 2010.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For general questions please contact: 
Laurence E. Castelli (202-325-0280), Privacy Officer, U.S. Customs and 
Border Protection, Office of International Trade, Mint Annex, 799 Ninth 
Street, NW., Washington, DC 20001-4501. For privacy issues please 
contact: Mary Ellen Callahan (703-235-0780), Chief Privacy Officer, 
Privacy Office, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC 
20528.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a notice of 
proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register, 73 FR 43374, July 25, 
2008, proposing to exempt portions of a system of records from 
provisions of the Privacy Act because of criminal, civil, and 
administrative enforcement requirements. The system of records is the 
DHS/U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)--007 Border Crossing 
Information system. The DHS/CBP--007 Border Crossing Information system 
of records notice was published concurrently in the Federal Register, 
73 FR 43457, July 25, 2008, and comments were invited on both the 
notice of proposed rulemaking and system of records notice. Comments 
were received on the notice of proposed rulemaking and system of 
records notice.

Public Comments

    Forty-eight comments were received on the system of records notice 
(SORN). Of those forty-eight comments, three comments were submitted in 
duplicate, one comment was submitted in triplicate, and one comment was 
submitted in quintuplicate. Accordingly, after accounting for the 
repetitive submissions, thirty-nine original comments were received on 
the system of records notice. Additionally, the same commenter posted 
comments twice on the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) however, it 
was only one comment. Therefore only one original comment was received 
on the NPRM. The thirty-nine comments received on the SORN focused 
primarily on opposition either to the entire DHS/CBP--007 Border 
Crossing Information system of records or to specific aspects of the 
system including opposition to the proposed length of time the records 
would be maintained and several of the routine uses listed for the 
system. Several comments stated opposition to the system because they 
alleged that the system was unconstitutional. The one comment on the 
NPRM was against the proposed Privacy Act exemptions because the 
commenter believed that not all records within DHS/CBP--007 Border 
Crossing Information system of records are law enforcement data and 
exempting the DHS/CBP--007 Border Crossing Information system of 
records information from the Privacy Act would make it extremely 
difficult to contest and/or fix errors in the data, a right which is 
provided for in the Privacy Act. DHS notes that several comments 
submitted in conjunction with the SORN expressed disagreement with DHS' 
use of the Privacy Act exemptions. However, the comments were not 
submitted in response to the NPRM. The following is a synopsis of the 
comments received and DHS' response.

General Comments

    Comment: No records should be maintained on law abiding U.S. 
citizens. Lawful border crossing of U.S. citizens should not be 
tracked. The focus should be on illegal entrants and non-U.S. citizens.
    Response: Throughout its 219 year history, and beginning with 
actions by the First Congress of the United States, CBP and its 
principal legacy components, the Immigration and Naturalization Service 
(INS) and the U.S. Customs Service, have possessed the authority to 
stop and search all persons, conveyances, and cargo attempting to cross 
the U.S. border. The DHS/CBP--007 Border Crossing Information system of 
records is a tool that is by utilized CBP in performance of its mission 
at U.S. borders. The responsibility of CBP at the U.S. borders 
encompasses all persons crossing the borders, including U.S. citizens.
    Furthermore, as explained in the DHS/CBP--007 Border Crossing 
Information system of records, the system does not represent a new or 
expanded collection of information by CBP. Rather, CBP is providing 
increased information regarding the agency's historical practices.
    Comment: This system should be classified. The collected 
information should only be used for National Security purposes.
    Response: The DHS/CBP--007 Border Crossing Information system of 
records was published as part of DHS's ongoing effort to increase 
transparency regarding the collection of information at the Department. 
Accordingly, if the system were classified, the public would generally 
not have access to information in the system either under the Privacy 
Act or the Freedom of Information Act.
    Moreover, in CBP's judgment the system's level of classification is 
commensurate with the type of information maintained in the system and 
the agency has put in place adequate measures to ensure the integrity 
of the system.
    Comment: The system should not be exempted from the Freedom of 
Information Act.
    Response: The system is not exempted from the Freedom of 
Information Act. The Privacy Act by its terms at 5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(2) 
specifically provides for access to information in a system of records, 
including exempt systems of records, through a request made under the 
Freedom of Information Act. In response to a Freedom of Information Act 
request, and in accordance with that statute, the government may exempt 
certain portions of responsive records from disclosure when providing 
an individual with information about him or herself.
    Comment: Criminal penalties for misuse of data must be specified 
with no exceptions for government employees.
    Response: The Privacy Act authorizes criminal penalties for misuse 
of data maintained in a system covered by the Privacy Act. 5 U.S.C. 
552a(i). There are no exceptions for criminal conduct committed by 
government employees. Additionally, CBP identifies misuse of 
information in its information systems as a specific violation 
applicable to all CBP employees. Employees may be dismissed from CBP 
for mishandling or misusing information maintained in CBP's systems and 
may be subject to criminal or civil penalties.
    Comment: The system should have an audit trail and information 
should only be accessed if there is need to know.
    Response: This system has a clear audit trail of who has accessed 
the system and who has accessed what records, so that if there are 
concerns about an individual's use of the system it can be tracked. 
CBP's Office of Internal Affairs regularly reviews the use of the 
system to ensure it is being used properly. CBP recognizes the need to 
prevent misuse of any information it collects. Therefore, CBP has 
implemented several internal controls to mitigate threats to the 
integrity of its systems. Access to CBP's systems is governed by a 
strict policy that implements rights and responsibilities to 
information. This means that only CBP employees with a need to know 
have access to information that falls

[[Page 5493]]

within the performance of official duties. Furthermore, CBP requires 
that all employees participate in regular privacy awareness training to 
receive automated systems access and requires that employees 
periodically re-attend such training to continue their access. CBP also 
identifies misuse of information in information systems as a specific 
violation applicable to all CBP employees. Employees may be dismissed 
from CBP for mishandling or misusing information maintained in CBP's 
systems and may be subject to criminal or civil penalties.
    Comment: DHS should have an updated System of Records Notice for 
TECS.
    Response: A new system of records notice for TECS was published in 
December 2008. DHS/CBP--011 TECS (73 FR 77778, December 19, 2008).
    Comment: The system security for the DHS/CBP--007 Border Crossing 
Information system of records data has not been adequately addressed.
    Response: Multiple security measures are in place for data 
collected in DHS systems. CBP uses routers, firewall and intrusion 
detection systems to prevent unauthorized access to its systems. Any 
information stored via backup tape is protected through strict physical 
safeguards and other technical safeguards to ensure it cannot be 
inappropriately accessed.

Access and Redress Comments

    Comment: Exempting information within the DHS/CBP--007 Border 
Crossing Information system of records from certain provisions of the 
Privacy Act will make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for 
individuals to fix errors that show up in the database.
    Response: CBP respectfully disagrees. CBP has not proposed 
exempting access to the DHS/CBP--007 Border Crossing Information system 
of records by individuals who have a system record that pertains to 
them. To the contrary, the DHS/CBP--007 Border Crossing Information 
system of records delineated procedures for contesting system records. 
The relevant section of the SORN states: ``Requests to amend a record 
must be in writing and should be addressed to the CBP Customer Service 
Center (Rosslyn, VA), 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 
20229; Telephone (877) 227-5511; or through the ``Questions'' tab at 
http://www.cbp.gov.xp.cgov/travel/customerservice.'' Requests should 
conform with the requirements of 6 CFR Part 5, Subpart B, which 
provides the rules for requesting access to Privacy Act records 
maintained by DHS and can be found at http://www.dhs.gov/foia. The 
envelope and letter should be clearly marked ``Privacy Act Access 
Request.'' The request should include a general description of the 
records sought and must include the requester's full name, current 
address, and date and place of birth. The request must be signed and 
either notarized or submitted under penalty of perjury.
    If individuals are uncertain what agency handles the information, 
they may seek redress through the DHS Traveler Redress Program (DHS 
TRIP) (72 FR 2294, January 18, 2007). DHS TRIP is a single point of 
contact for individuals who have inquiries or seek resolution regarding 
difficulties they experienced during their travel screening at 
transportation hubs, such as airports, seaports and train stations or 
at U.S. land borders. Through DHS TRIP, a traveler can request 
correction of erroneously stored data in other DHS databases through 
one application. Redress requests should be sent to: DHS Traveler 
Redress Inquiry Program, 601 South 12th Street, TSA-901, Arlington, VA 
22202-4220 or online at http://www.dhs.gov/trip.

Retention Period Comments

    Comment: The retention period is too long for records about people 
that have committed no crime.
    Response: The fifteen-year and seventy-five year retention periods 
proposed for the DHS/CBP--007 Border Crossing Information system of 
records were determined in order to allow CBP to effectively pursue its 
law enforcement mission while addressing privacy concerns. The fifteen-
year retention period will allow CBP to access the data when needed for 
a law enforcement purpose yet permit the removal of the data in a time 
period significantly shorter than other systems. The seventy-five year 
period for non-immigrant aliens will allow for proper administration of 
certain immigration benefits as well as other law enforcement purposes. 
Furthermore, it should be noted, that while the DHS/CBP--007 Border 
Crossing Information system of records information is maintained for a 
number of years, any access to the information will always require a 
``need to know'' by any person accessing the information. Access by 
persons without a proper ``need to know'' may result in criminal 
penalties and/or disciplinary actions.

Routine Uses

    Comment: Under the listed Routine Uses, potential interested 
parties with whom the DHS/CBP--007 Border Crossing Information system 
of records information may be shared, such as press, foreign 
governments, State, prospective employers, students, contractors, etc., 
is too broad and not consistent with the reason for collecting the 
information.
    Response: CBP, and its predecessor agencies, INS and the U.S. 
Customs Service, have signed Memoranda of Understandings (MOUs) or 
entered into agreements with a wide variety of Federal, State, and 
local agencies with an interest in maintaining border security and law 
enforcement; similar arrangements are in place with other nations in 
the form of Customs Mutual Assistance Agreements (CMAAs) and other 
information-sharing agreements and arrangements. The terms of these 
arrangements specify the necessity of sharing information and highlight 
the fact that the types of information sharing described in the SORN 
are neither unique nor a new practice for border authorities. 
Additionally, all MOUs and other arrangements for the sharing of 
information contain specific provisions relating to the 
responsibilities of the receiving party to keep the information 
confidential, protected, and secure. DHS does not share PII with 
domestic or foreign governments or multilateral organizations which DHS 
is not confident will protect the privacy interests of the data 
subject.
    The routine uses identified are consistent with CBP's role as a law 
enforcement agency that enforces over 400 statutes on behalf of more 
than 40 agencies in the Federal Government. DHS is charged in its 
authorizing statute, specifically section 892 of the Homeland Security 
Act of 2002, to facilitate the sharing of terrorist information across 
the government. In addition, The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism 
Prevention Act of 2004 required the President to establish an 
Information Sharing Environment ``that facilitates the sharing of 
terrorism information.'' Following this enactment, on October 25, 2005, 
the President issued Executive Order 13388, directing that DHS and 
other agencies ``promptly give access to * * * terrorism information to 
the head of each other agency that has counterterrorism functions'' and 
establishing a mechanism for implementing the Information Sharing 
Environment.
    In addition, routine use O. permits CBP to share information with 
the press where such a release would inform the public about the 
performance of CBP's border security mission, such as the release of 
information pertaining to an arrest of a person attempting to enter the 
United States with bomb making materials in the trunk of his/her car.

[[Page 5494]]

Such uses are consistent with CBP's and DHS's overall law enforcement 
mission and serve to inform the public of how that mission is being 
accomplished. The particular routine use includes protections to 
balance the privacy interests of the person, whose information may be 
disclosed, with the public's right to know how the government is 
accomplishing its mission; this is the traditional balance that has 
always been struck between privacy and the public's right ``to know 
what its government is up to.''
    Comment: The listed Routine Use for sharing for civil cases is not 
consistent with the mission against terrorism.
    Response: The priority mission of CBP is to prevent terrorist and 
terrorists' weapons from entering the United States while facilitating 
legitimate travel and trade. In performance of its duties at the 
border, CBP, as a law enforcement agency, enforces over 400 statutes on 
behalf of more than 40 agencies in the Federal government. As such, the 
enforcement is not always criminal in nature and the sharing of DHS/
CBP--007 Border Crossing Information system of records information in 
certain civil matters is understandable and consistent with CBP overall 
mission. Again, the DHS/CBP--007 Border Crossing Information system of 
records does not represent a new collection of information, and the 
routine use for civil purposes is consistent with CBP's historical 
treatment of this information.
    Comment: Routine Uses are vague, overbroad and in some instances 
unnecessary.
    Response: CBP is a law enforcement agency that enforces over 400 
statutes on behalf of more than 40 agencies in the Federal government. 
In addition, CBP and its predecessor agencies, the INS and U.S. Customs 
Service, have signed MOUs or similar agreements with a wide variety of 
Federal, State and local agencies with border security and law 
enforcement interests and have similar accords with other nations in 
the form of CMAAs and other information sharing agreements or 
arrangements. The DHS/CBP--007 Border Crossing Information system of 
records Routine Uses are established to facilitate the sharing of 
specific information in furtherance of these shared law enforcement 
missions. The Routine Uses set forth at great length in the DHS/CBP--
007 Border Crossing Information system of records also provides notice 
and transparency to the public as to nature and extent of the sharing 
of system data while containing appropriate parameters to limit the 
sharing to discrete purposes.

Privacy Act Statutory Comments

    Comment: The system is not consistent with DHS principles of 
minimization and the Fair Information Practice Principles, specifically 
the length of retention, and as such should be amended to comply with 
these standards.
    Response: CBP collects the minimum amount of information to 
properly record the border crossing event of an individual and 
facilitate CBP's border security, law enforcement and counterterrorism 
functions. Additionally, as discussed, the length of retention for 
information stored in the system was established to allow CBP to 
effectively pursue its border security, law enforcement and 
counterterrorism missions, while addressing privacy concerns.

Legal or Constitutional Comments

    Comment: The system is unconstitutional. No records should be 
maintained in the system without probable cause that something is 
illegal nor should any records be shared without probable cause.
    Response: As the U.S. Supreme Court has stated, ``[i]t is axiomatic 
that the United States, as sovereign, has the inherent authority to 
protect, and a paramount interest in protecting, its territorial 
integrity.'' United States v. Flores-Montano, 541 U.S. 149, 153 (2004). 
Indeed, ``the Government's interest in preventing the entry of unwanted 
persons and effects is at its zenith at the international border.'' Id. 
at 152. For this reason, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that stops and 
examinations are reasonable in the absence of a warrant or probable 
cause when they are conducted at the U.S. border, see Carroll v. United 
States, 267 U.S. 132, 153-54 (1925), and the ``functional equivalent of 
the border,'' such as international airports, see United States v. 
Irving, 432 F.3d 401, 414 (2nd Cir. 2005).
    Under the border search exception, routine stops and examinations 
conducted at the border are reasonable for Fourth Amendment purposes 
``simply by virtue of the fact that they occur at the border,'' and may 
be conducted without any individualized suspicion. United States v. 
Ramsey, 431 U.S. 606, 616 (1977). In addition, the Congress has 
specifically authorized CBP to collect the information maintained in 
the system. (see, e.g., 49 U.S.C. 44909 for information collected 
through the DHS/CBP--005 Advance Passenger Information system of 
records (73 FR 68435, November 18, 2008)).
    Comment: The system is prohibited by the Privacy Act because it 
involves the collection and retention of records pertaining to 
activities protected by the First Amendment (i.e., ``right of 
assembly'').
    Response: The broad authority of CBP to conduct activities relating 
to the entry or exit of persons or things into or out of the United 
States is codified at title 19 of the United States Code (U.S.C.), in 
sections 482, 1461, 1496, 1499, and 1581-83, and title 8, U.S.C. 1357. 
The system is a decision-support tool used by CBP officers to execute 
this lawful border enforcement authority and does not violate the right 
of citizens to assemble.

Privacy Act Exemptions Comments

    Comment: There is no good reason for exempting a system of this 
type from the Privacy Act. All people for whom the government holds 
records ought to have the ability to review, amend, or correct 
information maintained by the government.
    Response: The suggested exemptions from the Privacy Act listed in 
the DHS/CBP--007 Border Crossing Information NPRM (73 FR 43374, June 
25, 2008) were selected to allow maximum transparency of data collected 
in the system while simultaneously allowing CBP to perform its border 
enforcement mission. For example, if the system did not have the 
proposed exemption from subsection (c)(3) of the Privacy Act, (5 U.S.C. 
552a (c)(3)), the fact that certain DHS/CBP--007 Border Crossing 
Information system of records information was shared with a law 
enforcement agency could disclose to the subject of an investigation 
the existence of such an investigation, and reveal investigative 
interest on the part of DHS as well as the recipient agency. Disclosure 
of the accounting could possibly allow the suspect individual to impede 
the investigation and present a serious concern to successful law 
enforcement efforts and possibly compromise national security.

Public Recommendations

    The submitted public comments offered numerous suggestions 
concerning DHS/CBP--007 Border Crossing Information system of records. 
Those suggestions ranged from cancellation of the system in its 
entirety, to proposed modifications to the system to enable it to meet 
concerns raised in the comments. Some of the suggested modifications 
included the following:
     Records not be shared without probable cause support by a 
court order (already in Privacy Act);
     Penalties for misuse of data (already exist);
     This system should be classified;

[[Page 5495]]

     Retention of records should only be in cases were there is 
a reasonable suspicion of criminal or terrorist activity;
     The retention period should be shortened;
     Records should only be maintained on non-U.S. Citizens; 
and
     Records should only be shared pursuant to a court order.
    Responses to all these recommendations have been provided elsewhere 
within this document.
    Upon careful review of the submitted public comments, having taken 
into consideration public comments resulting from this NPRM and SORN, 
as well as the Department's position on these public comments, DHS has 
determined that for the reasons stated, it is important that the 
exemptions remain in place. DHS will implement the rulemaking as 
proposed.

List of Subjects in 6 CFR Part 5

    Freedom of information; Privacy.

0
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:  Pub. L. 107-296, 116 Stat. 2135, 6 U.S.C. 101 et 
seq.; 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, Exemption of Record Systems 
under the Privacy Act, the following new paragraph ``46'':

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

* * * * *
    46. The DHS/CBP--007 Border Crossing Information system of 
records will maintain border crossing information on travelers who 
are admitted or paroled into the United States. This information 
includes: certain biographical information; a photograph (if 
available); certain itinerary information provided by air and sea 
carriers and any other forms of passenger transportation, including 
rail, which is or may subsequently be mandated, or is or may be 
provided on a voluntary basis; and the time and location of the 
border crossing. This system may contain records or information 
pertaining to the accounting of disclosures made from DHS/CBP--007 
Border Crossing Information system of records to agencies (Federal, 
State, Local, Tribal, Foreign, or International), in accordance with 
the published routine uses. For the accounting of these disclosures 
only, 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. 552(c)(3); (e)(8); and (g) 
pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(j)(2). Additionally, for the accounting of 
these disclosures only, 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. 552(c)(3); 
(e)(8); and (g) pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(2). Further, no 
exemption shall be asserted with respect to biographical or travel 
information submitted by, and collected from, a person's travel 
documents or submitted from a government computer system to support 
or to validate those travel documents. After conferring with the 
appropriate component or agency, DHS may waive applicable exemptions 
in appropriate circumstances and where it would not appear to 
interfere with or adversely affect the law enforcement purposes of 
the systems from which the information is recompiled or in which it 
is contained. Exemptions from the above particular subsections are 
justified, on a case-by-case basis to be determined at the time a 
request is made, when information in this system or records is 
recompiled or is created from information contained in other systems 
of records subject to exemptions for the following reasons:
    (a) From subsection (c)(3) (Accounting for Disclosures) because 
making available to a record subject to the accounting of 
disclosures from records concerning him or her would specifically 
reveal any investigative interest in the individual. Revealing this 
information could reasonably be expect to compromise ongoing efforts 
to investigate a violation of U.S. law, including investigations of 
a known or suspected terrorist or criminal, or other person of 
interest, by notifying the record subject that he or she is under 
investigation. This information could also permit the record's 
subject to take measures to impede the investigation, e.g., destroy 
evidence, intimidate potential witnesses, or flee the area to avoid 
or impede the investigation.
    (b) From subsection (e)(8) (Notice to Individuals) because to 
require individual notice of disclosure of information due to 
compulsory legal process would pose an impossible administrative 
burden on DHS and other agencies and could alert the subjects of 
counterterrorism or law enforcement investigations to the fact of 
those investigations when not previously known.
    (c) From subsection (g) (Civil Remedies) to the extent that the 
system is exempt from other specific subsections of the Privacy Act.

    Dated: January 21, 2010.
Mary Ellen Callahan,
Chief Privacy Officer, Department of Homeland Security.
[FR Doc. 2010-2200 Filed 2-2-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 9110-06-P


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