Exemption 6

The federal government uses Exemption 6 to withhold from disclosure personnel, medical and other records, the release of which it deems an invasion of privacy.

Under Exemption 6, an agency may withhold “personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”1 In appealing an Exemption 6 withholding, you can 1) contest the agency’s assertion that the records at issue constitute “personnel and medical files and similar files,” 2) argue there is little or no significant privacy interest in the records, and 3) argue that to the extent there is any privacy interest in the records, it is outweighed by the public interest in their release.

In personal privacy cases under FOIA, courts essentially balance an individual’s privacy right in a record — should one be found to exist — against the public interest in disclosure of the record, so you should be prepared to argue why the privacy right is minimal (or non-existent) and the public interest in disclosure is strong.

1 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6).