Match the Right Stamp to the Right Secrets

Monday, December 15, 2008

This notice floated by the other day from the Pentagon, which is trying to make sure unauthorized people don't see anything that's not really secret but that officials think might be sensitive. So get ready to throw out your old "For Official Use Only" stamp. There's a new one coming: "Controlled Unclassified Information." But wait for additional guidance before you start using it.

"Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) is the new generic term to be used for information that is not releasable to the public; however, DoD [Department of Defense] components are not to use these new markings until the DoD transition plan is completed and the DoD-level implementation guidance has been published," a Nov. 21 e-mail explained.

" 'For Official Use Only' (FOUO) is being phased out and CUI will replace all current DoD markings used on unclassified information including Privacy Act, and Law Enforcement Sensitive," according to the e-mail. "The purpose is to improve information sharing with state, local, private sector, and foreign partner entities. This will also ensure appropriate safeguarding and dissemination of the Department's sensitive, unclassified information."

The CUI designation doesn't mean you can't get the stuff under the Freedom of Information Act, but it doesn't mean you can, either.

To help officials figure out what can be released, the e-mail says, "All CUI will be categorized into one of three combinations of safeguarding procedures and dissemination controls: Controlled with Standard Dissemination; Controlled with Specified Dissemination; Controlled Enhanced with Specified Dissemination. Working groups have been established to continue implementing the transition plan."

In the meantime, of course, you're on your own.

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