Bill to Repeal FOIA Exemption for SEC Goes to White House

September 27, 2010 ( – The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to overturn part of the recent financial reform bill exempting under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) certain investigative information gathered by federal regulators.

The measure, already approved by the Senate, now goes to the White House for consideration, according to a Dow Jones news report.

The FOIA exemption given to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) allows the agency to keep secret information it obtains through surveillance and some other oversight activities.

Dow Jones said SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro had lobbied to keep the FOIA exemption in place, saying the financial services reform law codified existing practice and was meant to ensure that protection already afforded financial institutions will extend to other entities. The SEC also contends the records should be withheld from the public because firms would be less willing to provide information voluntarily if their rivals could use the open records law to obtain it.

The agency attempted to assuage lawmakers’ concerns by issuing guidance last week that would limit the staff’s ability to keep information secret, the news report said