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I assume this rectangle around the IC is for RF shielding, but why when is it exposed? I have seen this occasionally and I am not sure of it's exact purpose or why its exposed.

Googling the title didnt help so I am here asking.

enter image description here

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These look like solder pads onto which a EMI shield made of sheet metal would be soldered.

enter image description here
( source of picture: article Design and Shielding Techniques to Block EMR and EMI )

The manufacturer of your board have probably concluded that the board performs adequately and passes the EMI tests without the shield. To save cost, they have omitted the actual sheet metal part. The remaining pads don't do harm. They are connected to ground.

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