Thanks to Terry Lodge for forwarding this. His comments with the posting were:
"After all, we don't want to embarrass them by releasing governmental investigatory reports of how we, the people, are gouged, raped, pillaged and poisoned by corporations..... 'Please, mister, it's humiliating to know we had an uncontrolled radiation release for days that will kill thousands of people, and didn't catch it; we'd feel a lot better if you didn't tell anyone....' 'Please, mister, we feel bad enough about poisoning all those wells when we took down that mountain; can't you have a heart?' "
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2010, Issue No. 92
November 18, 2010
Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/
DO CORPORATIONS HAVE PERSONAL PRIVACY RIGHTS?
The Supreme Court will decide next year whether corporations are entitled to "personal privacy" and whether they may prevent the release of records under the Freedom of Information Act on that basis. FOIA advocates say that assigning personal privacy rights to corporations could deal a crippling blow to the Act.
The case before the Court -- known as FCC v. AT&T
The appeals court noted that the word "person" is defined in the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) to include corporations, and it went on to infer from this that the FOIA exemption for "personal privacy" in law enforcement records must logically extend to corporations as well.
But "that analysis does not withstand scrutiny," the government argued in its petition
A concise description of the pending case as well as key case files and amicus briefs filed with the Supreme Court by several FOIA advocacy organizations are conveniently available from the Electronic Privacy Information Center
Corporate information that qualifies as a "trade secret" has long been exempt from disclosure under the FOIA. But prior to this case, no court had ever held that a corporation also has personal privacy rights.
If affirmed by the Supreme Court, the appeals court ruling "could vastly expand the rights of corporations to shield their activities from public view," said Sen. Patrick Leahy
"Congress never intended for this [personal privacy] exemption to apply to corporations," he said. "I also fear that extending this exemption to corporations would permit corporations to shield from public view critical information about public health and safety, environmental dangers, and financial misconduct, among other things -- to the great detriment of the people's right to know and to our democracy."
"I sincerely hope that our nation's highest Court... will narrowly construe the personal privacy exemption, consistent with congressional intent," said Sen. Leahy
FCC v. AT&T is scheduled to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on January 19, 2011.