Overview: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Freedom of Information Act (also known as FOIA) is a federal law that governs an individual's right to obtain information from the government agencies. This law (5 U.S.C. Section 552) was enacted by the Congress in the year 1966. As per FOIA, the agencies of the United States government are obligated to disclose the records if they receive a request in writing.

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The burden to substantiate why the information may not be released, is on the government. The right to access information is enforceable in the federal court. Anyone (U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, associations, universities and organizations) can file an FOIA request.

Supreme Court of the United States of America

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There are many options to request information. You may fill out the form which is available online. You may send your request by email to the email address FOIA@fcc.gov or by fax to the number (202) 418-2826. You may send the request to the following address:

Federal Communications Commission

445, 12th Street, S. W., Room 1-A836

Washington, D.C.20554

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If you choose to send the FOIA request by regular mail, email or fax, you must ensure that the following information is included:

1. The words "Freedom of Information Act Request" on the envelope and at the top of the letter.

2. Date of request.

3. Telephone number (daytime) and email contact (daytime).

4. Title of the document requested.

5. Maximum fee you are prepared to pay for the request.

Have you sent any FOIA request?

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As per law, the FCC should determine within 20 days of receipt of the request whether it is appropriate. If the processing time is more than 20 days, the FCC notifies the requester explaining the circumstances for the delay. It will not take more than 10 days (after the initial 20 day period).

The following FCC records are not accessible through FOIA:

1. National defense and foreign policy materials.

2. Internal rules and practices of an agency.

3. Any information specifically exempted by another statute.

4. Confidential business information.

5. Inter or intra-agency memoranda which would not be available to a party in litigation with the agency.

6. Disclosure of files (like medical files) which may result in unwarranted invasion of privacy.

7. Information compiled for law enforcement purposes.

8. Records related to financial institutions.

9. Information related to oil wells.

This act applies only to federal agencies. The federal courts and the Congress are not subject to the FOIA.

Summary

  • The Freedom of Information Act was enacted by the Congress in the year 1966.
  • The burden to substantiate why the information may not be released, is on the government.
  • There are many options to request information.
  • The FCC should determine within 20 days of receipt of the request whether it is appropriate.
  • The federal courts and the Congress are not subject to the FOIA.

5 Well-known U.S. Laws and Regulations

Sl No
Law
1
ADA
2
FOIA
3
ESA
4
Tobacco Control Act
5
Help America Vote Act

The Freedom of Information Act has been a significant enhancement of our democracy.

— Independent Commission on Freedom of Information

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2 comments

lions44 profile image

lions44 4 days ago from Auburn, WA

Nice work. Laws like the FOIA was vital. I spent many years in state government and have told everyone who will listen that public disclosure are the only thing standing between citizens and tyranny. It sounds like hyperbole but it's not. If you've witnessed government officials trying to hide information from voters, it can be scary.


srirad0675 profile image

srirad0675 4 days ago Author

True.

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