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FOIA Exemptions

Exemption 1 – Protects information that is properly classified in the interest of national security pursuant to Executive Order 12958.

Exemption 2

  • a. 2(high) – Protects information applicable to internal administrative and personnel matters, to the extent that disclosure would risk circumvention of an agency regulation or statute, impede the effectiveness of an agency’s activities, or reveal sensitive information that may put the security and safety of an agency activity or employee at risk.

Examples of information DHS may withhold using 2(high): Law enforcement      manuals, telephone numbers/contact information, lead contacts for certain schedule activities or appointments

  • b. 2(low) – Protects records that are related to internal matters of a relatively trivial nature.

Example of information DHS may withhold using 2(low):  Internal administrative tracking numbers or file numbers

Exemption 3 – Protects information exempted from release by statute.

Example of information DHS may withhold using 3:  Information protected by the Critical Infrastructure Act of 2002; e.g.: information pertaining to actual, potential, or threatened interference with, attack on, compromise of, or incapacitation of critical infrastructure or protected systems by either physical or computer-based attack or other similar conduct (including the misuse of or unauthorized access to all types of communications and data transmission systems) that violates Federal, State, or local law, harms interstate commerce of the United States, or threatens public health or safety

Exemption 4 – Protects trade secrets and commercial or financial information which could harm the competitive posture or business interests of a company.

Example of information DHS may withhold using 4: Commercially valuable formulas or other proprietary information not customarily released to the public entity from whom the information is obtained.

Exemption 5 – Protects the integrity of the deliberative or policy-making processes within the agency by exempting from mandatory disclosure opinion, conclusions, and recommendations included within inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters.

Example of information DHS may withhold using 5: Draft documents and recommendations or other documents that reflect the personal opinion of the author rather than official agency position.

Exemption 6 – Protects information that would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy of the individuals involved.

Example of information DHS may withhold using 6: Social Security Numbers, home addresses and telephone numbers, certain identifying information regarding DHS employees.

Exemption 7 – Protects records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes the release of which could reasonably be expected:

  • a. 7(A) – to interfere with enforcement proceedings.

Example of information DHS may withhold using 7(A): Records pertaining to an open law enforcement investigation.

  • b. 7(B) – would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication.

Example of information DHS may withhold using 7(B): Information that could potentially contaminate a jury pool.

  • c. 7(C) – to constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of a third party/parties (in some instances by revealing an investigative interest in them).

Example of information DHS may withhold using 7(C): Identifying information    of individuals associated with a law enforcement proceeding; i.e. law enforcement officers’ names, witness/interviewee identifying information.

  • d. 7(D) – to disclose the identity/identities of confidential sources.

Example of information DHS may withhold using 7(D): Identifying information of confidential informants.

  • e. 7(E) – would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions.

Example of information DHS may withhold using 7(E): Law enforcement manuals, records pertaining to Watch Lists.

  • f. 7(F) –to endanger the life or physical safety of an individual.

Example of information DHS may withhold using 7(F): Identifying information    of law enforcement officers.

Exemption 8 – Protects information that is contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions.

Example of information DHS may withhold using 8: Exemption rarely invoked by DHS

Exemption 9 – Protects geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.

This page was last reviewed/modified on April 15, 2008.