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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

FOIA exemptions hard to spot

The original Freedom of Information Act included eight exemption categories. The Sunshine in Government Initiative has identified an additional 270, but there could be more. New legislation has been introduced in Congress that would "require any new b(3) exemptions to specifically reference the Freedom of Information Act, so that these exemptions would be easier to spot," the Columbia Journalism Review reported.

The idea behind the Freedom of Information Act is simple: file a request for a document with the government, and they’ll turn it over.

There are, of course, exceptions. The original Act, signed into law on July 4, 1966, listed eight broad exempted categories, including trade secrets, personal medical records, and classified information.

A ninth item ensured it wouldn’t stop there. Section b(3) of the Act says that information can be exempted from disclosure by other statutes. There’s nothing to require that these other exempting statues mention their intent to foil FOIA, and Congress is welcome to write as many of them as they like.

More here.

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