Federal Law

Both federal and state laws deal with access to government information. Before requesting records from any government agency through its “sunshine laws” (so named because they are supposed to “shine light” on government actions), it’s important to understand whether federal or state laws pertain to your specific request. The following resources provide information about the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This act governs federal government agencies and entities. It does not govern Maine state government entities.

This federal site includes multimedia and education about FOIA requests including brief primers, frequently asked questions, and links for those wishing to make FOIA requests to federal agencies. This site is good place to get overall information in the federal FOIA.

United States Department of Justice FOIA Resources
The DOJ Office of Information Policy resource area provides contacts, text of the law, information about the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) counseling, contacts, changes made in 2007 and 2009, and Exemption 3, which “provides for the withholding of records when disclosure is prohibited by another federal law.

Justice Department Guide to the Freedom of Information Act
This site offers “an overview discussion of the FOIA’s exemptions, its law enforcement record exclusions, and its most important procedural aspects.” People seeking information from government may be told that the information they are requesting is exempt or excluded. This resource provides a review of Federal exemptions and exclusions.

Your Right to Federal Records: Questions and Answers on the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act
A guide provided by the Federal Citizen Information Center of the U.S. General Service Administration outlining citizen rights to information under FOIA and the Privacy Act, including a discussion of the relationship between the two acts. “The FOI’s access rights are generally given to ‘any person,’ but the Privacy Act’s access rights are given only to the individual who is the subject of the records sought (if that individual is a U.S. citizen or a lawfully admitted permanent resident alien).”

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 5 U.S.C. § 552 As Amended
Direct link to text of the Federal Freedom of Information Act Law. Provides context and model for state laws.

We encourage you to support the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition and Maine’s right to know by becoming a member. Join the MFOIC Today!

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