ERIC Number: ED162354
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1978-Jul
Reference Count: N/A
FOIA: What's a Trade Secret?
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was amended in 1974 in order to restrict government control and to facilitate the public's access to information. However, part of the FOIA bans federal officials from disclosing "trade secrets" and commercial or financial information obtained in confidential circumstances. This exemption has resulted in a great number of requests and lawsuits between the government and business over the disclosure of exempted information. Arguments for the greater release of information to the public state that reverse FOIA suits are illegal and that the released information would not be valuable to competitors. Proponents of withholding information argue that FOIA suits are legal, that the release of information would be harmful in a competitor's hands, that corporations would begin holding back information from the government, and that representatives from foreign countries could obtain nonsecret documents. While seeking a concrete definition of "trade secret" exemption, business can achieve the protection afforded by this exemption through advance agreements on confidentiality, injunctions, civil damage suits, and court orders. At present, the government attitude is that when an agency receives an FOIA request, the information is to be released or an explanation given. (MAI)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Freedom of Information Center, Columbia, MO.
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Freedom of Information Act