Some information is protected from release. Below are the statutory exemptions listed in 5 U.S.C. § 552.
Exemption 1 - Protects information that is properly classified in the interest of national security pursuant to Executive Order 12958.
Exemption 2 -Protects records related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency.
Exemption 3 -Protects information exempted from release by statute.
Exemption 4 -Protects trade secrets and commercial or financial information which could harm the competitive posture or business interests of a company.
Exemption 5 -Protects the integrity of the deliberative or policy-making processes within the agency by exempting from mandatory disclosure opinion, conclusions, and recommendations included within inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters.
Exemption 6 - Protects information that would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy of the individuals involved.
Exemption 7 - Protects records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes the release of which could reasonably be expected:
- 7(A) – to interfere with enforcement proceedings.
- 7(B) – would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication.
- 7(C) – to constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of a third party/parties (in some instances by revealing an investigative interest in them).
- 7(D) – to disclose the identity/identities of confidential sources.
- 7(E) – would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions.
- 7(F) –to endanger the life or physical safety of an individual.
Exemption 8 - Protects information that is 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.
Exemption 9 - Protects geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.
Congress has provided special protection in the FOIA for three narrow categories of law enforcement and national security records. The provisions protecting those records are known as “exclusions.” The first exclusion, known as “(c) (1) exclusion”, protects the existence of an ongoing criminal law enforcement investigation when the subject of the investigation is unaware that it is pending and disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings. The second exclusion, known as “(c)(2) exclusion”, is limited to criminal law enforcement agencies and protects the existence of informant records when the informant’s status has not been officially confirmed. The third exclusion, known as “(c)(3) exclusion is limited to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and protects the existence of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence, or international terrorism records when the existence of such records is classified. Records falling within an exclusion are not subject to the requirements of the FOIA. So, when an office or agency responds to your request, its response will encompass those records that are subject to the FOIA.