Freedom of Information Act

About FOIA

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. (United States Code) § 552, was enacted in 1966 and generally provides that:

  • Any Individual has the right to make a request for federal agency records or information.
  • All agencies of the U.S. Government are required to disclose records upon receiving a written request for them.
  • There are nine exemptions in addition to limits to FOIA that protect certain records from disclosure.

The federal FOIA does not provide access to records held by state or local government agencies, or by private businesses or individuals. Most states, and some local jurisdictions, have their own laws about access to state and local records.

Making Requests

Consult the Making a Request link if you plan to make a FOIA request to the Federal Trade Commission. You may be able to access the information you need on the Internet without making a FOIA request. Before making a FOIA request, you should browse our FOIA Reading Room and search the ftc.gov website. Both contain many documents that are available to the public.

What's New With FOIA?

Improving Agency Disclosure of Information:

On December 14, 2005, President Bush issued Executive Order 13392, "Improving Agency Disclosure of Information." This Executive Order furthers the goals of the FOIA, by establishing a "citizen-centered and results-oriented approach" to the Act.

Executive Order 13392 requires the following actions:

  • The designation of a Chief FOIA Officer at the Assistant Secretary level or equivalent. The Chief FOIA Officer will conduct a review of the Agency's FOIA operations.
  • The creation of a FOIA Requester Service Center to enable FOIA requesters to inquire about the status of their requests and obtain information about the Agency's FOIA program.
  • The establishment of a Requester Service Center for those seeking information under the FOIA. Any inquiries about specific requests, including status reports, or general questions about FOIA should be directed to our Requester Service Center on the FOIA Hotline at (202) 326-2430.
  • The designation of a Public Liaison with whom FOIA requesters can raise concerns about the service they receive from the Agency's Requester Service Center, following an initial response from the Center's staff.
  • The establishment of an Agency plan for improving the administration of the FOIA program.