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."


Deeplinks Topics

Stay in Touch

NSA Spying

EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

Follow EFF

Happening now: TPP negotiators trading away our digital rights in the backrooms of a luxury hotel in Maui. https://eff.org/r.zr7c

Jul 28 @ 6:11pm

We're calling on the Copyright Office to ask USTR to re-think its copyright term proposals in TPP. Join us: https://eff.org/r.4etj

Jul 28 @ 4:41pm

Ethiopian PM Desalegn promised reform, but the country has a long way to go on civil liberties: https://eff.org/r.rl7b

Jul 28 @ 3:37pm
JavaScript license information