March 2, 2011 | By Rebecca Jeschke

Supreme Court Backs Government Transparency Over Corporate Privacy Claims

In a powerful ruling for government transparency and accountability, the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday rejected so-called "privacy" protections for corporate entities under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). EFF and a coalition of other groups filed an amicus brief in this case urging just this result, arguing that a new definition of "corporate privacy" would lead to broad swaths of previously public records becoming hidden from view.

The case, Federal Communications Commission v. AT&T, started when the company tried to block disclosure of records about its participation in the federal government's E-Rate program. AT&T, invoking FOIA exemptions that were created to protect an individual's private data like physical address or email address, argued that it was a "corporate citizen" entitled to "personal privacy." EFF argued that this misreading of FOIA would create more delays in an already lengthy FOIA process and allow even more opportunities for corporations to block important records from the public eye, and we're gratified to see the Supreme Court agree. As Chief Justice John Roberts said in his conclusion, "We trust that AT&T will not take it personally."


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