Exemptions (Privacy Act)

The Privacy Act exempts certain information in whole or in part from its search and disclosure provisions (see Full Text of PACIA Information Act of 1984,):

  • Records exempt in their entirety are polygraph records.
  • Records exempt in part are those that contain classified information, information concerning intelligence sources and methods, or information concerning other persons.
  • Records generally limited in their disclosure are those compiled in reasonable anticipation of civil litigation (exemption (d)(5).
  • Under the seven specific exemptions in the PA, the CIA most commonly applies:
    1. Exemption (j)(1): information concerning polygraph records, sources and methods to gather intelligence -- including the facilities, organization, functions, names, officials titles, salaries, or numbers of personnel employed by the Agency -- and documents or information provided by foreign governments.
    2. Exemption (k)(1): classified information under an Executive Order in the interest of national defense or foreign policy.
    3. Exemption (k)(5): investigatory material used only to determine suitability, eligibility, or qualifications for federal civilian employment or access to classified information when the material comes from confidential sources.
    4. Exemption (k)(6): testing or examination material used to determine appointment or promotion of federal employees when disclosure would compromise the objectivity or fairness of the process.

Because the CIA processes Privacy Act requests under both the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), some information may also be exempt from release under the FOIA statute. For example, FOIA Exemption (b)(6) is commonly applied to information found in Privacy Act records concerning other individuals that may not be released without their written consent.