ERIC Number: ED236707
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Jun
Reference Count: 0
Exemption 6: Privacy under the Freedom of Information Act.
In 1979, "The Washington Post" brought suit against the State Department to compel the release of certain passport information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The State Department had refused release under the "similar files" clause of the Act's Exemption 6, stating that release would be an invasion of privacy. In trying to develop a workable standard for applying this ambiguous phrase, courts have applied a series of tests to determine what kind of information can be released without invading individual privacy: if a record were not a personnel or medical file or one that could be designated "similar file," it generally could be released without further consideration. The "Post" maintained that "similar files" pertained only to files that, like personnel and medical files, contained intimate details about a person's life. The State Department argued that passport documents were "similar files" because they contained identifiable facts about the specific individuals, the release of which would expose them to danger. In 1982, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the State Department, stating that passport files contained much of the same information exempting a medical or personnel file. The Court decided that Congress had intended to include "intimate" or "personal" records under the rubric of "similar files." (HTH)
Descriptors: Confidentiality, Court Litigation, Disclosure, Federal Legislation, Freedom of Speech, Information Dissemination, Information Sources, News Reporting, Newspapers, Privacy
Freedom of Information Center, Box 858, Columbia, MO 65205 ($1.00, quantity discounts available).
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Freedom of Information Center, Columbia, MO.
Identifiers: Department of State; Freedom of Information Act; Washington Post