White House Issues New Classified Information Policy

The White House recently released a new policy attempting to standardize procedures for the treatment of what is referred to as “Sensitive But Unclassified” (SBU) information. The memorandum issued by the president adopts, defines and institutes “Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)” as the new standard for the treatment of such information. There are currently over 100 different markings for sensitive information that has led to over-classification. The new CUI policy would reduce that to three categories.

Three new categories are:

  • “Controlled with Standard Dissemination” meaning the information requires standard safeguarding measures that reduce the risks of unauthorized or inadvertent disclosure. Dissemination is permitted to the extent that it is reasonably believed that it would further the execution of a lawful or official purpose.
  • “Controlled with Specified Dissemination” meaning the information requires safeguarding measures that reduce the risks of unauthorized or inadvertent disclosure. Material contains additional instructions on what dissemination is permitted.
  • “Controlled Enhanced with Specified Dissemination” meaning the information requires safeguarding measures more stringent than those normally required since the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure would create risk of substantial harm. Material contains additional instructions on what dissemination is permitted.

What will be the practical effect of the new CUI policy?

According to Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News, in the short run not much. In his recent newsletter he said, “the new policy will do nothing to restore public access to government records that have been improperly withheld.” He went on to say, “To put it another way, the CUI policy does not exclude anything that is currently controlled as Sensitive But Unclassified.”

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