Homeland bill includes limited FOIA exemption

Bob Bennet

Information about IT security that the private sector voluntarily submits to the proposed Homeland Security Department would get limited exemption from the Freedom of Information Act under House and Senate versions of the homeland security bill.

Mary Jane Collipriest, spokeswoman for Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), said an amendment approved by the Governmental Affairs Committee is narrower than an earlier Bennett proposal. Exemptions would apply only to information submitted voluntarily. Records obtained independently would not be exempt from FOIA disclosure, and information currently subject to FOIA would remain so.

The Natural Resources Defense Council argued that companies could bury incriminating information in their disclosures, forestalling its use against them.

"The amendment appropriately narrows the scope of the provisions and protects the public interest," council legislative director Alyssondra Campaigne said. "It does not offer blanket immunity."

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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