National Park Service to Share Special Use Permit Data with White House


The updated system of records notice would also allow the agency to share data with other departments in the event of a cybersecurity breach.

The National Park Service is making it easier to share more data with the White House and other federal agencies on applications and approvals of special use permits for parks spaces.

The updates—outlined in a notice set to publish Wednesday in the Federal Register—would streamline the process for sharing data with the Executive Office of the President and allow NPS to share data with other agencies and entities suffering a cybersecurity breach when deemed “reasonably necessary” for helping respond to the incident.

The Park Service oversees 423 parks across the U.S., ranging from traditional, large conserved open spaces like Yosemite National Park all the way to small squares and triangles in roadways around Capitol Hill in D.C.

People interested in using a park for a specific purpose at a specific time generally have to obtain a special use permit. NPS issues permits for three types of uses: standard events like weddings, sports, picnics and family gatherings; special events like demonstrations, races, tournaments and the like; and construction, research and utility work.

When users apply for such permits, the system collects a wealth of data needed to process the application, including:

  • Name, organization, Social Security number, Tax Identification Number, date of birth, address, telephone number, fax number, email address, person’s position title.
  • Information of proposed activity including park alpha code, permit number, date, location, number of participants and vehicles, type of use, equipment, support personnel for the activity, company, project name and type, fees, liability insurance information.
  • Payment information including amounts paid, credit card number, credit card expiration date, check number, money order number, bank or financial institution, account number, payment reference number and tracking ID number.
  • Information on special activities including number of minors, livestock, aircraft type, special effects, special effect technician’s license and permit number, stunts, unusual or hazardous activities.
  • Information on driver’s license including number, state and expiration date.
  • Vehicle information including year, make, color, weight, plate number and insurance information.

The latest update proposes revising the system of records notice with some technical changes and expanding the federal entities with which that data can be shared.

The update adds “two new routine uses to facilitate sharing with the Executive Office of the President to resolve issues upon request of the subject of the record and with other federal agencies or entities to respond to a breach of personally identifiable information.”

The proposal to enable sharing with the Executive Office of the President appears to be limited to requests made by the applicant or someone on their behalf, with some additional leeway.

The information noted above could be shared with the White House “in response to an inquiry from that office made at the request of the subject of a record or a third party on that person’s behalf, or for a purpose compatible with the reason for which the records are collected or maintained,” the Federal Register notice states.

The update also modifies an approved sharing and adds another around data breach response. The modification allows NPS to share information about a breach of this system with other appropriate agencies—such as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency—to “respond to the suspected or confirmed breach or to prevent, minimize, or remedy such harm.”

The new addition would enlist NPS and special use permit data in assisting other agencies responding to a confirmed or suspected breach when such data would help with the investigation. Before sharing the data, the Interior Department must first determine “that information from this system of records is reasonably necessary to assist the recipient agency or entity.”

NPS already shares special permit use data with some federal agencies, including the Justice Department and members of Congress. The update expands the conditions under which such sharing is allowed, along with the new additions.