Freedom of Information Act and Nondisclosure Provisions in Other Federal Laws [September 13, 2010] [open pdf - 189KB]
"Congress continues to consider how to balance the federal government's growing need for sensitive or confidential business information, the public's right of access to information about government activities, and the private sector's interest in keeping its sensitive or proprietary information protected from public disclosure. In enacting the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, Congress sought to balance the right of the public to know and the need of the government to protect certain information. FOIA's broad provisions favoring disclosure, coupled with the specific exemptions, represent the balance Congress achieved. The federal FOIA is an information access statute enacted in 1966 that applies to agency records of the executive branch of the federal government. FOIA requires that certain types of records be published in the Federal Register, that certain types of records be made available for public inspection and copying, and that all other records be subject to request in writing. All records not available via publication or inspection, not exempt from disclosure, or excluded from coverage are subject to disclosure. Disputes over access to requested records may be reviewed in federal court where the burden is on the agency to sustain its action."
CRS Report for Congress, R41406