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FOIA Update: Justice Changes Policy on Exemption 7(D) Disclosure

FOIA Update
Vol. XIV, No. 3

Justice Changes Policy on Exemption 7(D) Disclosure

The Department of Justice has changed its policy on the disclosure of information that falls within the coverage of Exemption 7(D).

In implementation of Attorney General Reno's FOIA Memorandum, the Department on October 11 adopted a new Exemption 7(D) policy that encourages the discretionary disclosure of confidential source information whenever possible under the FOIA.

Because Exemption 7(D) covers all of the information furnished by a confidential source in any criminal or national security investigation, the exemption broadly encompasses such information regardless of whether its disclosure could reasonably be expected to identify the source. Under previous Department of Justice policy in effect since 1982, Exemption7(D) routinely would be applied to withhold all such source-furnished information in a blanket fashion.

The rescission of that policy now accommodates the use of a "foreseeable harm" analysis under Exemption 7(D) and the withholding of information only to the extent necessary to prevent source identification.

This new Exemption 7(D) policy was established by the Office of Information and Privacy through a memorandum issued by OIP to all Department of Justice FOIA coordinators. It applies to all components of the Department directly, but also should encourage other federal law enforcement agencies to do likewise in their use of Exemption 7(D).

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Updated August 13, 2014