On March 16th, Law colleges and other institutions celebrate the rights and freedoms provided as a result of the “Freedom of Information Act.” Why do we celebrate on this particular day when the “Freedom of Information Act” was enacted on July 4, 1966? Well, on March 16, 1751, the “Father of the Constitution,” James Madison Jr. was born. He earned that title for drafting the Constitution of the United States and the U.S. Bill of Rights.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) proclaims that every individual has the right to access information from federal agency records that are not protected by any of these nine exemptions.
- Exemption 1: Information that is classified to protect national security.
- Exemption 2: Information related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency.
- Exemption 3: Information that is prohibited from disclosure by another federal law.
- Exemption 4: Trade secrets or commercial or financial information that is confidential or privileged.
- Exemption 5: Privileged communications within or between agencies, including those protected by the:
- Deliberative Process Privilege (provided the records were created less than 25 years before the date on which they were requested)
- Attorney-Work Product Privilege
- Attorney-Client Privilege
- Exemption 6: Information that, if disclosed, would invade another individual’s personal privacy.
- Exemption 7: Information compiled for law enforcement purposes that:
- 7(A). Could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings
- 7(B). Would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication
- 7(C). Could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy
- 7(D). Could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source
- 7(E). Would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions
- 7(F). Could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual
- Exemption 8: Information that concerns the supervision of financial institutions.
- Exemption 9: Geological information on wells.
The best way to celebrate Freedom of Information Day is by attending an event that addresses the freedoms and rights associated with the act. Another way is to be open with friends and those you work with and remind them that everyone is entitled to know what government records are holding information about you and to make sure you know how to obtain the information.
There are many resources available to learn more about the “Freedom of Information Act” and how you can get involved. Visit the library to peruse their many resources and/or check out the following links:
- Freeman/Lozier Library eCatalog
- Freeman/Lozier Library Pinterest Page
- Freedom of Information Act Facebook Page
- Gov Website
- American Library Association – Freedom of Information Act
- Freedom of Information Day at the Newseum
Libraries and librarians are strong advocates for the “freedom of the press” and “freedom to read.” Therefore, it is probably safe to say that James Madison would have loved the institution of the library!