Freedom of Information Act (50 U.S.C. 552)

The exemption designations specified under the Freedom of Information Act are described below.


Applies to information which is currently and properly classified pursuant to an Executive Order in the interest of national defense or foreign policy (EO 12958 and DoD Reg 5200.1-R). Information may not be considered for classification unless it concerns:

  • (1.5)(a) military plans, weapons systems, or operations,
  • (1.5)(b) foreign government information,
  • (1.5)(c) intelligence activities (including special activities), intelligence sources or methods, or cryptology,
  • (1.5)(d) foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources,
  • (1.5)(e) scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to the national security,
  • (1.5)(f) United States Government programs for safeguarding nuclear materials or facilities,
  • (1.5)(g) vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations, projects or plans relating to the national security.


Applies to information which pertains solely to the internal rules and practices of the agency; this exemption has two profiles: “high” and “low.” The “high” profile permits withholding of a document which, if released, would allow circumvention of an organization rule, policy, or statute, thereby impeding the agency in the conduct of the mission. The “low” profile permits withholding if there is no public interest in the document and it would be an administrative burden to process the request.


Applies to information specifically exempted by a statute establishing as particular criteria for withholding. The language of the statute must clearly state that the information will not be disclosed.


Applies to information such as trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a company on a privileged or confidential basis which, if released, would result in competitive harm to the company.

Applies to inter- and intra-agency memoranda which are deliberative in nature; this exemption is appropriate for internal documents which are part of the decision-making process and contain subjective evaluations, opinions and recommendations.


Applies to information the release of which could reasonably be expected to constitute a clearly warranted invasion of the personal privacy of individuals.


Applies to records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes that

  • (1.5)(a) could reasonably be expected to interfere with law enforcement proceedings,
  • (1.5)(b) would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or impartial adjudication,
  • (1.5)(c) would reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of others,
  • (1.5)(d) disclose the identity of a confidential source,
  • (1.5)(e) disclose investigative techniques and procedures,
  • (1.5)(f) could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical activity of an individual.


Applies to matters that are contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for use of any agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions.


Applies to geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.

Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a)

Each exemption designation under the Privacy Act is described fully below.


Applies to information concerning other individuals which may not be released without their written consent.


Information compiled in reasonable anticipation of a civil action proceeding.


Applies to polygraph records; documents or segregate portions of documents, the release of which would disclose intelligence sources and methods, including names of certain agency employees and organizational components; and documents or information provided by foreign governments; (CIA exemption).


Material reporting investigative efforts pertaining to the enforcement of criminal law including efforts to prevent, control, or reduce crime or apprehend criminals, except records of arrest.


Applies to information and material property classified pursuant to an Executive Order in the interest of national defense or foreign policy.


Material maintained in connection with providing protective services to the President of the United States or any other individual pursuant to the authority of Title 18, United States Code, Section 3056.


Required by statute to be maintained and used solely as statistical records.


Applies to investigatory material compiled solely for the purpose of determining suitability, eligibility, or qualifications for Federal civilian employment, or access to classified information, the release of which would disclose a confidential source.


Testing or examination material used to determine individual qualifications for appointment or promotion in Federal government service, the release of which would compromise the testing or examination process.


Material used to determine potential for promotion in the armed services, the disclosure of which would reveal the identity of the person who furnished the material pursuant to a promise that his identity would be held in confidence.