Freedom of Information Act
The FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), is a federal law in the United States that allows for the disclosure, or partial disclosure, of documents controlled by the government. It was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 4, 1966, and went into effect the following year.
In 1996, the FOIA was amended with the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments that provides any records covered by the FOIA beginning on November 1, 1996, must be available online.
Nine exemptions in the FOIA
- Any information declared by executive order of the President to remain secret in the interests of national defense or foreign policy.
- Information that is only related to the internal personnel rules and practices of a government agency.
- Information specifically exempted from the FOIA by another law.
- Any trade secrets, or financial or personal information about a person that are privileged and confidential.
- Communications between government agencies that would not be legally available to anyone other than a litigant against the agency.
- Medical files or similar confidential information that would constitute a clear violation of personal privacy.
- Records whose disclosure would interfere with law enforcement proceedings, deprive a person of a fair and impartial trial, or reveal the identity of a confidential source.
- Information or reports used by an agency responsible for the oversight of financial institutions.
- Geological and geophysical data such as maps concerning wells.