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Executive Order 13526[]

Information is

any knowledge that can be communicated or documentary material, regardless of its physical form or characteristics, that is owned by, is produced by or for, or is under the control of the United States Government.[1]


Information is

[m]eaningful data; the result of processing data by computer or other means.[2]
intelligence or knowledge capable of being represented in forms suitable for communication, storage or processing.[3]
[t]he intelligence derived from the data on or about a system, or the intelligence obtained from the structure or organization of that data.[4]


Information is

[u]nprocessed data of every description which may be used in the production of intelligence.[5]
unevaluated material, at all levels of reliability and from any source, which may contain intelligence information.[6]
[t]he intelligence derived from the data on or about a system, or the intelligence obtained from the structure or organization of that data.[7]

Law enforcement[]


includes any data about people, organizations, events, incidents, or objects, regardless of the medium in which it exists. Information received by law enforcement agencies can be categorized into three general areas: general data, tips and leads data, and criminal intelligence data.[8]


Information is

1. [f]acts, data, or instructions in any medium or form. 2. The meaning that a human assigns to data by means of the known conventions used in their representation.[9]

Office of Management and Budget[]

Information is

any statement or estimate of fact or opinion, regardless of form or format, whether in numerical, graphic, or narrative form, and whether oral or maintained on paper, electronic or other media.[10]
any communication or representation of knowledge such as facts, data, or opinions in any medium or form, including textual, numerical, graphic, cartographic, narrative, or audiovisual forms.[11]

U.S. Department of Justice[]

Information is

[p]ieces of raw, unanalyzed data that identify persons, evidence, or events or illustrate processes that possibly indicate the incidence of a criminal event or witnesses or evidence of a criminal event.[12]

U.S. federal government[]

Information is

any communicable knowledge or documentary material, regardless of its physical form or characteristics, that is owned by, is produced by or for, or is under the control of the Federal Government.[13]


Information is the result of processing, gathering, manipulating and organizing data in a way that adds to the knowledge of the receiver. In other words, it is the context in which data is taken.

Information as a concept bears a diversity of meanings, from everyday usage to technical settings. Generally speaking, the concept of information is closely related to notions of communication, control, data, form, instruction, knowledge, meaning, mental stimulus, pattern, perception, and representation.

Many people speak about the Information Age as the advent of the Knowledge Age or knowledge society, the information society, and information technologies, and even though informatics, information science and computer science are often in the spotlight, the word "information" is often used without careful consideration of the various meanings it has acquired.

Social and political implications[]

Information is as vital to the healthy functioning of communities as clean air, safe streets, good schools and public health.
— Knight Commission, Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age

While information has immense benefits and capabilities to improve our lives both individually and as a Nation, it also has dangers. Information about a person is potentially a means of influencing and controlling that person. Information challenges traditional sources of authority and institutions built on that authority. Experience, training, and education may be rendered useless by new information. Information can also erode responsibility: what was once considered a sin to be condemned or a crime to be punished may, with fuller knowledge, appear to some as an illness to be treated or a genetic defect to be repaired. This perception can lead to imposingly difficult questions about the limits on social engineering in the context of constitutional values of personal freedom and privacy.

It is for these reasons that information, and the electronic, chemical, biological, and social technologies that generate and give access to it, often affect constitutional relationships that we are accustomed to think of as political, economic, or legal in nature. Constitutional relationships deal with power, with limitations on power, and with the balance between them. Directly or indirectly, information often generates that power, informs its limitations, or affects their proper balance.


  1. Executive Order 13526, at §6.1(t).
  2. Auditing and Financial Management: Glossary of EDP Terminology, at 9.
  3. ETSI: Telecommunications Security; Lawful Interception (LI); Handover Interface for the Lawful Interception of Telecommunications Traffic, at 13 (2003) (full-text).
  4. DCID 6/3, Glossary, App. B.
  5. NATO Standardization Agency, NATO Glossary of Terms and Definitions 2-I-4 (2008) (full-text).
  6. Intelligence Warning Terminology, at 23.
  7. DCID 6/3, Glossary, App. B.
  8. Privacy and Civil Liberties Policy Development Guide and Implementation Templates, App. E, Glossary.
  9. U.S. Department of Defense, Joint Pub. 1–02: DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms (Nov. 8, 2010, as amended through May 15, 2011) (full-text).
  10. 5 C.F.R. 1320.3(h).
  11. OMB Circular No. A-130, App. III, §6.j. See also Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies; Republication, at 8460.
  12. Privacy, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Compliance Verification for the Intelligence Enterprise, App. B, at 41.
  13. Designation and Sharing of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) §(3)(h).

See also[]

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