The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of 1966 stipulates that any
citizen is entitled to request access and complete or partial disclosure
of the records and documents that are used in the operations and
programs of federal agencies. One can appeal to court for permission to
access the files of interest. Some of the general information
pertaining to public life is made automatically open and can be found in
the “reading rooms”. However, there is certain information related to
federal agencies operations that cannot be revealed to general public.
Nine exemptions to the FOIA define this information. First of all, one
cannot request data dealing with classified operations on national
security or foreign affairs. Secondly, internal codes of practice are
also protected. Third, legally protected documents cannot be exposed.
Fourth, all proprietary commercial transactions and information on
competitive advantages is classified. The fifth exemption covers all
agency communications that contain any of the abovementioned elements.
The sixth exemption secures the constitutional privacy right of federal
agents and assistant staff. The seventh exemption is about
task-specific files relating to the joint operations of the law
enforcement and the federal agencies. Management of pecuniary
institutions is classified, as well as the mapping of oil fields
(Electronic Privacy Information Center).