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How is the theme chosen for each year's National FOI Day?
 
Does the First Amendment guarantee a general 'right of access' to government information?
 
Who can file a FOIA request?
 
How long does it take to get information under FOIA?
 
Can I request information from my congressman through FOIA?
 
What information cannot be obtained through FOIA?
 
 

All agency records must be made available to the public under FOIA, except:

  1. Records properly classified as secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy.
  2. Records related solely to internal personnel rules and practices.
  3. Records specifically made confidential by other statutes.
  4. Trade secrets and commercial or financial information that is obtained from a person and is privileged or confidential.
  5. Inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters, except under certain circumstances.
  6. Personnel and medical files and similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
  7. Records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, the release of which (a) could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings, (b) would deprive a person of a right to a fair trail or 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, (e) would disclose investigative techniques, and/or (f) could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.
  8. Information contained in or related to certain examination, operating, or condition reports concerning financial institutions.
  9. Certain information concerning gas or oil wells.

For a detailed discussion on how these FOIA exemptions have been interpreted and defined by the courts, see the “Justice Department Guide to the Freedom of Information Act.”

To get an idea how the exemptions are used by a particular agency, see that agency’s annual FOIA report, where it tallies it use of each exemption during that year. (The DOJ keeps all departments’ and agencies’ annual reports on its Web site.)

 
 
How do you appeal a denial of information under FOIA?
 
How can I find out more about the open-records act in my state, and file a state or local FOI request?
 
Must a federal agency produce records in an electronic format if asked to?
 
What are open-meetings laws?
 
Aren’t open-meetings laws unconstitutional? After all, don’t they infringe upon the speech of the members of governing bodies?
 
How do states deal with violations of open-meetings laws?
 
Many states and municipalities are now webcasting public meetings. Can they forbid reproduction of the meeting videos by members of the public?
 
Are city councils and similar public bodies required to have periods for public comment at meetings?
 
How can I find out more about the open-meetings act in my state?
 
Can public officials violate state open-meetings laws by sending e-mails?
 
Do state open-meeting laws specifically address e-mail communications?
 
Do court transcripts fall under FOI? Can they be withheld from litigants?
 
Are states making court records available electronically for the public?
 
Does the public have access to documents such as water-quality, toxic-waste and bridge-safety reports?
 
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Last system update: Saturday, April 24, 2010 | 15:08:46
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