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Anyone can make a FOIA request on almost any subject, but there are 9 exemptions FOIA does not cover. All the exemptions are specified in 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(1)-(9). The nine exemptions are:
- National defense or foreign policy information properly classified pursuant an Executive Order.
- Documents "related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency."
- Documents "specifically exempted from disclosure by statute" other than FOIA, but only if the other statute's disclosure prohibition is absolute."
- Documents which would reveal "[t]rade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential."
- Documents which are "inter-agency or intra-agency memorandum or letters" which would be privileged in civil litigation.
- Documents which are "personnel and medical and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."
- Documents which are "records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes," but only if one or more of six specified types of harm would result.
- Documents which are related to specified reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of agencies which regulate financial institutions.
- Documents which would reveal oil well data.