ERIC Number: ED236711
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Jul
Reference Count: 0
Exemption 4: Trade Secrets under the Freedom of Information Act.
Selby, Holly E.
Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) protects from disclosure by government agencies privileged and confidential trade secrets and commercial or financial information. Based on early Exemption 4 litigation, courts have devised a "substantial competitive harm test" to decide whether requested information should be covered by the exemption. In "Chrysler Corporation v. Brown," which marked a turning point in the issue of access to business information submitted to government agencies, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) had decided to release information requested about Chrysler's affirmative action plan and other equal opportunity information. The DLA argued that the Trade Secrets Act did not apply to the information requested. Chrysler countered that Congress intended at least some of the FOIA exemptions to be mandatory, and that disclosure was prohibited under the Trade Secrets Act. Although the court ruled that Chrysler did not have a private right of action to stop disclosure under the Trade Secrets Act, it did note that Chrysler could seek review of DLA's decision to disclose as an aggrieved party under an administrative procedure act. This decision has had a far reaching impact on subsequent FOIA cases, since business may no longer safely rely on the FOIA exemptions as a means to prevent agency disclosure of information. Complaints about the FOIA's cost and inefficiency and the current Presidential administration's disfavor of strenuous disclosure efforts generated proposals to amend the FOIA that would increase protection of confidential business information and require agencies to develop procedural regulations for designating submitted material as confidential. (HTH)
Descriptors: Affirmative Action, Business, Confidentiality, Court Litigation, Disclosure, Economic Status, Federal Legislation, Government Role, Information Storage, Records (Forms)
The Freedom of Information Center, Box 858, Columbia, MO 65205 ($1.00, quantity discounts available).
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Freedom of Information Center, Columbia, MO.
Identifiers: Freedom of Information Act