"Sensitive But Unclassified" Information and Other Controls: Policy and Options for Scientific and Technical Information
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, controls increasingly have been placed on some unclassified research and ST information, including that used to inform decision making and citizen oversight. These controls include sensitive but unclassified SBU labels restrictive contract clauses visa controls controlled laboratories and wider legal restrictions on access to some federal biological, transportation, critical infrastructure, geospatial, environmental impact, and nuclear information. Federal agencies do not have uniform definitions of SBU or consistent policies to safeguard or release it. Following the 2001 terrorist attacks, the Bush Administration issued guidance that reversed the Clinton Administrations presumption of disclosure approach to releasing information under Freedom of Information Act FOIA and cautioned agencies to consider withholding SBU information if there was a sound legal basis to do so. Some agencies contend that SBU information is exempt from disclosure under FOIA, even though such information per se is not exempt under FOIA. During the 109th Congress, P.L. 109-90 and P.L. 109-295 focused on management, oversight, and appropriate use of the sensitive security information SSI category. Legislative proposals focused on standardizing concepts of sensitive information modifying penalties for disclosure and clarifying FOIA. During the 110th Congress, additional topics likely to be controversial include limiting the number of persons who can designate SBU widening the use of risk-based approaches to control centralizing review, handling, and appeals and evaluating the impact of federal policies on nongovernmental professional groups prepublication review and self-policing of sensitive research.
- Information Science
- Government and Political Science