ASIO records – exempt information

Because of their sensitive nature, many ASIO records contain information that is exempt from public access.

Exempt information in ASIO records falls into two categories:

  • peripheral exemptions
  • substantive exemptions.

Peripheral exemptions

Peripheral exemptions are applied to information such as:

  • the names and signatures of current and former ASIO officers
  • some ASIO file numbers
  • some information revealing the organisational structure of ASIO
  • codes that identify ASIO's intelligence sources or the reliability of intelligence
  • code words.

Peripheral exemptions appear on most pages in ASIO files. However, they usually only require the redaction of one or two words and do not affect the overall content of the page.

Substantive exemptions

Substantive exemptions are applied to information that:

  • identifies confidential sources of information
  • reveals ASIO’s operational procedures and techniques
  • reveals information-sharing relationships between ASIO and other foreign or domestic security organisations. This usually also applies to the shared information itself.

Substantive exemptions may result in the redaction of a block of text or even the whole page.

Apply for a review of exemptions

If you apply for access to an ASIO record and we decide that some or all of it is exempt, you can ask us to review the decision by applying for internal reconsideration.

To speed up the process, you might like to limit your application to:

  • substantive exemptions only. In most cases this will significantly reduce the amount of content we need to assess
  • only certain pages of the file, such as wholly exempt pages.

Make a note on your application if you would like to limit the parts of the record we assess.

Please contact us to apply for a review. There is no application fee.

Reviewing exemptions made before 1996

ASIO's policy around access to archival records has changed a lot over the years.

As a result, some information that was made exempt before 1996 can now be released.

Please contact us if you would like ASIO to review exemptions made before 1996. You can also ask ASIO to include any extra material that has entered the open access period since the file was first released.