What information is exempt from requests?

Under FOIA, there is a presumption that all information is public unless the public body proves otherwise. There are several exceptions to public disclosure that include but are not limited to:

  • Private information – “Private information” is exempt from disclosure under FOIA. FOIA defines “private information” as “unique identifiers, including a person’s social security number, driver’s license number, employee identification number, biometric identifiers, personal financial information, passwords or other access codes, medical records, home or personal telephone numbers, and personal e-mail addresses.” Under FOIA, “private information also includes home addresses and personal license plate numbers, except as otherwise provided by law or when compiled without possibility of attribution to any person.”
  • Personal information that, if disclosed, would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy unless the disclosure is consented to in writing by the person who is the subject of the information. Under FOIA, the “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” means the “disclosure of information that is highly personal or objectionable to a reasonable person and in which the subject’s right to privacy outweighs any legitimate public interest in obtaining the information.” Disclosing information that relates to the public duties of public employees is not considered an invasion of personal privacy.
  • Law enforcement records that, if disclosed, would interfere with a pending or reasonably contemplated proceeding or that would disclose the identity of a confidential source.
  • Information that, if disclosed, might endanger anyone’s life or physical safety.
  • Preliminary drafts or notes in which opinions are expressed, or policies are formulated, unless the record is publicly cited and identified by the head of the public body.
  • Business trade secrets or commercial or financial information that is proprietary, privileged, or confidential and disclosure would cause competitive harm to the person or business.
  • Proposals and bids for any contract until a final selection is made.
  • Requests that are “unduly burdensome.”

For a complete list of exemptions from the State of Illinois, go to the Illinois General Assembly/Illinois Compiled Statutes.

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1. What is considered a Public Record?
2. How do I submit a FOIA Request
3. What information should I include in my request?
4. Is my request a commercial request?
5. How long will it take to get a response?
6. Is there a fee?
7. What information is exempt from requests?