3 Exemptions

According to the law, the government is required to release all government information to you, except if the information falls under one of these exemptions:

Freedom of information Act Exemptions

B(1): Properly classified as secret in interest of national defense of foreign policy

B(2): Internal personnel rules and practices

B(3): Exempted from release by other laws (i.e. CIA operational files)

B(4): Trade secrets, confidential financial or commercial information

B(5): Privileged inter/intra-agency information (pre-decisional)

B(6): Personal or medical information (privacy)

B(7): Law Enforcement

  • Interfere with law enforcement proceedings
  • Deprive right to fair trial
  • Unwarranted invasion of personal privacy
  • Disclose identity of confidential source
  • Disclose techniques or procedures of investigations
  • Endanger life or physical safety.

B(8): Financial Institutions

B(9): Oil well data


The following are categories under which information is considered “classified” and not subject for release. The process of “declassification” is when material once considered classified (according to the categories below) is determined to no longer be a threat to national security and then can be released or “declassified.”


Executive Order 13526 – Classified National Security Information

Sec. 1.4.  Classification Categories.  Information shall not be considered for classification unless its unauthorized disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause identifiable or describable damage to the national security in accordance with section 1.2 of this order, and it pertains to one or more of the following:

(a)  military plans, weapons systems, or operations;

(b)  foreign government information;

(c)  intelligence activities (including covert action), intelligence sources or methods, or cryptology;

(d)  foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources;

(e)  scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to the national security;

(f)  United States Government programs for safeguarding nuclear materials or facilities;

(g)  vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations, infrastructures, projects, plans, or protection
services relating to the national security; or

(h)  the development, production, or use of weapons of mass destruction.


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How to FOIA by Emily Willard is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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