Supreme Court Reduces Information Available Under FOIA
by Susan Lavington
Hot News! Supreme Court Ruling from June 24, 2019
The Supreme Court just gave a victory lap to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) submitters and a defeat to those requesting information under the Act. In Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media, the Court held that:
Where commercial or financial information is both customarily and actually treated as private by its owner and provided to the government under an assurance of privacy, the information is “confidential” within the meaning of 5 U. S. C. §552(b)(4), the Freedom of Information Act’s Exemption 4.
What does this mean?
For government contractors seeking to protect their proposal and other confidential information this definitely is in the win column. Under Food Marketing, the government must prevent public disclosure under FOIA Exemption 4 if that information is customarily and actually treated as private by its owner and provided to the government under an assurance of privacy.
Want to know more?
For those with an insatiable desire to know more, the case involved a FOIA request by a South Dakota newspaper, the Argus Leader, for records that would disclose data about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP. The SNAP data included information about the retail grocery stores where SNAP recipients purchased their groceries. The grocery stores objected and hence a ruling that impedes federal contractors desire to learn more about competitors information.
Stay tuned to see what happens with the regulations. A good site to follow is DOJ at