Freedom of Information Act

From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is developing and not approved.
Main Article
Talk
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
 
This editable Main Article is under development and not meant to be cited; by editing it you can help to improve it towards a future approved, citable version. These unapproved articles are subject to a disclaimer.

The U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a piece of legislation that enables individuals and groups to demand that the government review designated information that is being withheld from public release. Comparable laws exist in several other democracies.

Under the Act, a requester must describe the material requested, which the holding agency must review. Unless the material falls into a defined category, it must be released:

1. specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and are in fact properly classified pursuant to such Executive Order;
2. related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency;
3. specifically exempted from disclosure by statute (other than section 552b of this title), provided that such statute (A) requires that the matters be withheld from the public in such a manner as to leave no discretion on the issue, or (B) establishes particular criteria for withholding or refers to particular types of matters to be withheld;
4. trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential;
5. inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency;
6. personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy; (see also HIPAA)
7. records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records or information
(A) could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings,
(B) would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication,
(C) could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,
(D) could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source, including a State, local, or foreign agency or authority or any private institution which furnished information on a confidential basis, and, in the case of a record or information compiled by a criminal law enforcement authority in the course of a criminal investigation or by an agency conducting a lawful national security intelligence investigation, information furnished by a confidential source,
(E) would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law, or
(F) could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual;
8. contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions; or
9. geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.