Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act generally provides that any person has a right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or portions of them) are protected from disclosure by one of nine exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions.
Enacted in 1966, the FOIA established for the first time an effective statutory right of access to government information. The principles of government openness and accountability underlying the FOIA, however, are inherent in the democratic ideal: "The basic purpose of [the] FOIA is to ensure an informed citizenry, vital to the functioning of a democratic society, needed to check against corruption and to hold the governors accountable to the governed." The Supreme Court has emphasized that "official information that sheds light on an agency's performance of its statutory duties falls squarely within that statutory purpose."