Post 1: What are the nine main exemptions to FOIA? Any changes recently or are these the main ones? What are “redactions?”
What are the nine main exemptions to FOIA? Any changes recently or are these the main ones? What are “redactions?”
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (2021), the nine exemptions to FOIA are the following:
Properly classified information
Records only containing internal rules and practices of an agency
Information exempted from release by a statute
Trade secrets and information that could harm a business’s competitiveness
Deliberative or policy-making processes, including opinions and recommendations
Information that would invade someone’s privacy
Law enforcement information that could interfere with the law enforcement or judicial process
Information used for regulation and supervision of financial institutions
Geological information regarding the location of wells
Redactions are blacked out pieces of information that are covered by the exemptions to FOIA.
In the case, what seemed to be the court’s main premise in allowing access to certain items under FOIA?
In the case, the court seems to be concerned with the agency changing their standards of practice for FOIA response or being inconsistent.
Regarding other laws which bear on FOIA, why is FERPA one of your best friends at UMGC? What is HIPAA?
According to the U.S. Department of Education (n.d.), FERPA protects us from our parents when it comes to educational information. After we turn 18 or enroll in a higher education institution, our parents no longer have the right to access certain information such as our grades. HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 that prohibits the disclosure of patient health information without knowledge and consent (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018).
When can the government legitimately deny access to newsgathering?
In Pell v. Procurnier (1974), the court held that the First Amendment doesn’t guarantee journalists special access to information which is not generally available to the general public. The government could also deny access to newsgathering when the information being gathered is protected by an exemption to FOIA.
Was what Slate predicted exactly how the judge decided this? What’s your take?
According to Lurie (2018), he predicted that CNN would win the case against the White House. I agree with their take on this. To me, it was a clear violation of the freedom of the press and was meant to intimidate journalists.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, September 14). Health insurance portability and accountability act of 1996 (HIPAA). Public Health Professionals Gateway. https://www.cdc.gov/phlp/publications/topic/hipaa.html
Lurie, D. R. (2018, November 12). CNN will win its lawsuit to have Jim Acosta’s White House press pass restored. Slate. https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/11/jim-acosta-cnn-white-house-first-amendment.html
Pell v. Procurnier, 417 U.S. 817 (1974)
U.S. Department of Education. (n.d.). What is FERPA?. Protecting Student Privacy. https://studentprivacy.ed.gov/faq/what-ferpa
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2021, February 26). FOIA exemptions. https://www.dhs.gov/foia-exemptions
Per the Department of Homeland security site, the nine main exemptions to FOIA are:
Protects information that is classified in the interest of national security
Protects records that are related only to internal personal rues and practices of an agency
Protects information exempted from release by statue.
Protects trade secrets and commercial or financial information that could harm business interests of a company.
Protects the integrity of the policy-making process within the agency by exempting from mandatory disclosure opinion, conclusions, and recommendations included in inter-agency publications.
Protects information that would constitute as an unnecessary invasion or personal privacy of individuals involved.
Protects records/information compiled for law enforcement purposes that could: interfere with enforcement proceedings; deprive an individual of a right to a fair trial; to constitute an unwarranted invasion of person privacy of third parties; to disclose identity of confidential sources; would disclose procedures of law enforcement investigations; to endanger the life or physical safety of an individual.
Protects information that is contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, or for the use of an agency responsible for regulation of financial institutions.
Protects geological and geophysical information.
The FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 is the most recent change to the exemptions of the FOIA. This Act effected exemption 5. Redactions are information withheld within the request. They are withheld because it contains exempt information. It I noted on the document and normally the redacted information is blacked out (Rodgers, 2016).
In the Gellman v. DHS (2020) case the court’s main premises in allowing certain items under FOIA because of inconsistencies with the standard practices amongst the various agencies.
FERPA, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, prevents the privacy of sensitive educational records (that are beyond the high school level) for anyone over 18. HIPAA is similar to FERPA HIPAA, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, protects patient sensitive health information from being disclosed without consent.
Government can legitimately deny access to newsgatherings at a place where the general public would be excluded such as a crime scene or natural disaster location. The arrest of CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez during the George Floyd protests was not valid and he should have not been arrested as he was attempting to remove himself from the location the police didn’t want press or public (Hannah & Vera, 2020).
Slate did not exactly predict how Judge Timothy J. Kelly decided this case. The case more so focused on the violation of Acosta’s Fifth Amendment right of due process since he was never notified his credential would be taken and did not focus on a violation of his First Amendment right (Watson, 2018). I more so aligned with thinking Acosta’s First Amendment was violated but after doing research can agree his Fifth Amendment was also violated.
Department of Homeland Security. (2021, February 26). FGIA exemptions. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved December 4, 2021, from https://www.dhs.gov/foia-exemptions.
Gellman v. DHS (D.D.C. Mar 20, 2020)
Hannah, J., & Vera, A. (2020, May 29). CNN crew released from police custody after they were arrested live on air in Minneapolis. CNN. Retrieved December 4, 2021, from https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/29/us/minneapolis-cnn-crew-arrested/index.html.
Lurie, D. R. (2018, November 13). CNN will win its lawsuit to have Jim Acosta’s White House press pass restored. Slate Magazine. Retrieved December 4, 2021, from https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/11/jim-acosta-cnn-white-house-first-amendment.html.
Rodgers, M. A. (2016). Freedom of Information Act Requests Six Keys to Handling Them. Defense AT&L, 45(1), 50–52.
The United States Department of Justice. (2016, August 17). OIP Summary of the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016. The United States Department of Justice. Retrieved December 4, 2021, from https://www.justice.gov/oip/oip-summary-foia-improvement-act-2016.
Watson, K. (2018, November 16). Jim Acosta can keep his White House press pass, court rules. CBS News. Retrieved December 4, 2021, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cnn-lawsuit-ruling-jim-acosta-can-keep-his-press-pass/.
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