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Big Data and SEC FOIA Requests

Washington DC, USA - January 13, 2018: US United States Securities and Exchange Commission SEC entrance architecture modern building sign, logo, american flag, looking up sky, glass windows reflection

FOIAengine Analysis of SEC Requests Reveals Insights

An analysis of Freedom of Information Act requests to the Securities and Exchange Commission over the past six months highlights investor interest in several of the leading storylines of the year, including the decline of cryptocurrency companies, the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, and presidential politics.

According to PoliScio Analytics’ competitive-intelligence database FOIAengine, which tracks FOIA requests in as close to real-time as their availability allows, eight companies were the subject of ten or more requests over the six months.

FOIA requests to the federal government can be an important early warning of bad publicity, litigation, or stock price movements to come. The following are insights gleaned from our review of the requests.


Individual companies are the focus of most requests. Of the 5,219 FOIA requests submitted to the SEC from April 1 to September 30, 2023, fully 67% (3,472) sought information or documentation relating to specific companies. The remainder sought non-company information such as internal SEC schedules, internal and external communications, meeting summaries, exhibits, transcripts, and general SEC documents.

Over 3,000 companies were targeted in the requests. The 3,472 company-related requests mentioned 3,202 different companies.

A small number of companies were mentioned frequently. Eight companies were the subject of ten or more requests over the six months.Frequently, these requests were linked to major stories in the economy.


A small number of individuals and organizations account for a disproportionate share of total FOIA requests.

Using PoliScio’s categorization of requester types, our research shows that a broad range of interests are submitting FOIA requests, including companies, universities, news media, law firms, non-profits, and political organizations. Following is the ranking of requester types based on the total number of requests during the six months.

The SEC submission system does not require submitters to identify their organization. Twenty-six percent (1,338 requests) of SEC submitters did not provide their organization, or disclosure of the requester was restricted because of FOIA exemptions.

Next:  News media requests to the SEC.

Randy E. Miller, co-creator of FOIAengine, is a Washington lawyer, publisher, and former government official. He has developed several online information products and was a partner at Hogan Lovells, where he founded the firm’s Brussels office and represented clients on international regulatory matters. Miller also has served as a White House trade lawyer, Senior Legal Adviser to the U.S. Mission to the World Trade Organization, policy director to Senator Bob Dole, and adjunct professor at Georgetown University. He is a graduate of Yale and Georgetown Law.  FOIAengine is a product of PoliScio Analytics (, a new venture specializing in U.S. political and governmental research, co-founded by Miller and Washington journalist John A. Jenkins.  Learn more about FOIAengine here.  Sign up here to become a beta user of FOIAengine.

Write to Randy E. Miller at

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