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The personal touch

By Steven | March 3, 2011

The US Supreme Court might have decided that corporations have speech rights, but it has just ruled that (in the context of freedom of information, anyway) they don’t have privacy rights.

Under the US federal Freedom of Information Act, information can be withheld if its disclosure “could reasonably be expected to consistitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy”. AT&T tried to argue that documents it had supplied to the FCC could be withheld under this ground. It was a legal person, it said. Therefore, it could have “personal” privacy. (The equivalent provision in NZ applies only to “natural persons”).

The Supreme Court unanimously disagreed. Writing for the Court, Roberts CJ concluded in style:

The protection in FOIA against disclosure of law enforcement information on the ground that it would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy does not extend to corporations. We trust that AT&T will not take it personally.

Topics: Official Information Act, Privacy tort | No Comments »


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