Briefcase: Freedom Of Information Act

Host: Dean Leonard Baynes

In 1966, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act into law.  Dean Leonard Baynes, with the University of Houston Law Center, looks at FOIA and its exemptions.

“When journalists make requests under the Freedom of Information Act, they have the right to access documents and materials held by federal agencies, unless they are exempt by law

The U.S. Supreme Court has clarified and defined which information can be kept confidential.

A newspaper sought names and addresses of retail stores that participate in the food stamp program and each store’s annual redemption of benefits. The USDA denied the information request, citing an exemption.

The Supreme Court agreed that the requested information was exempt and is deemed ‘confidential’ if the information is customarily kept private and provided with some assurance of privacy. Retailers closely guard food stamp information. This data could be used to determine a competitor’s overall sales and strategies.”