The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was enacted by Congress in 1966. The purpose of the act was to give the American public greater access to federal government records. In 1996, the Electronics Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996 (E-FOIA) was created to give the public greater access online to government records.
How Do I File a FOIA Request?
Most government documents are available on the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) website. However, documents may also be obtained by visiting FCC headquarters at 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington D.C. 20554.
What Types of Records Are Exempt?
Most federal government documents are available for viewing by the public. However, there are nine exceptions that are listed below:
- National defense or foreign policy documents
- Internal agency rules
- Information that is exempted by statute
- Privileged financial institution materials
- Federal agency internal memoranda
- Personnel files that are in violation of privacy laws
- Law enforcement records
- Records of financial agency operations
- Oil well data
Does the FCC Charge a Fee for Viewing Files?
Yes. The FCC does impose a charge based on the salary level of the employee finding and reproducing any relevant records. However, the FCC will notify any person that has a potential fee over $25. In addition, fee waivers are available upon request depending on the circumstances.
Should I Consult an Attorney?
An experienced constitutional law attorney can help individuals seeking information under the FOIA. There may be occasions in which documents or other materials might be deemed exempt from the FOIA. Therefore, an experienced government attorney may be able to argue your case in court to force the FCC to comply with disclosure requirements.