The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), enacted in 1966, generally provides that any person has the right to access to all federal agency records except for those records (or portions of those records) that are protected from disclosure by any of nine exemptions or three exclusions (reasons for which an agency may withhold records from a requester).
The exemptions cover:
(1) classified national defense and foreign relations information,
(2) internal agency rules and practices,
(3) information that is prohibited from disclosure by another law,
(4) trade secrets and other confidential business information,
(5) inter-agency or intra-agency communications that are protected by legal privileges,
(6) information involving matters of personal privacy,
(7) certain information compiled for law enforcement purposes,
(8) information relating to the supervision of financial institutions, and
(9) geological information on wells.
In 1996, Congress revised the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by passing the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments (E-FOIA). The E-FOIA amendments provide for public access to information in an electronic format and for the establishment of electronic FOIA reading rooms through agency FOIA sites on the Internet.