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Sensitive But Unclassified Information — Many Definitions, No Standards

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There are at least 28 separate and distinct federal government policies on “sensitive but unclassified” information and its use in withholding information from the public, the National Security Archive reports in an audit of 37 major agencies’ policies. Not one offers effective oversight or monitoring of how many records are marked and withheld, by whom, or for how long. The study found that in at least eight agencies – including the 180,000 employee Department of Homeland Security — allow almost any employee to stamp a document SBU and effectively prevent its release under FOIA. For a full understanding of how the term is being used in the withholding of information, read the Congressional Research Service report and the other reports linked below.

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