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U.S. Freedom of Information Act and the California Public Records Act: U.S. FOIA Exemptions

Information on how to make a FOIA or CORA request

FOIA Exemptions

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:

  1. National defense or foreign policy information properly classified pursuant an Executive Order.
  2. Documents "related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency."
  3. Documents "specifically exempted from disclosure by statute" other than FOIA, but only if the other statute's disclosure prohibition is absolute."
  4. Documents which would reveal "[t]rade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential."
  5. Documents which are "inter-agency or intra-agency memorandum or letters" which would be privileged in civil litigation.
  6. Documents which are "personnel and medical and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."
  7. 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.
  8. Documents which are related to specified reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of agencies which regulate financial institutions.
  9. Documents which would reveal oil well data.