US Supreme Court Limits Access to Commercial Data Shared With Federal Agencies
In a ruling that critics say could hinder access to public records, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it easier for the government and businesses to keep commercial information that is shared with federal agencies confidential.The 6-3 decision, released Monday, came in a case that pitted a South Dakota newspaper, the Argus Leader, against the food marketing industry. The paper sought records about grocery store transactions in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $67 billion-a-year food-stamp program for Americans with low- or no income.The record request came under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a law that allows public access to federal documents and other records, although with certain exemptions.One such exception, meant to protect trade secrets, was at the center of the case.Overturning a 45-year precedent, the majority ruled that normally private commercial or financial information shared with the government on assurance of privacy is "confidential" and must be protected. Previously, such information was subject to release unless disclosing it would cause “substantial competitive harm” to the submitting company. The FOIA law was passed in 1966 and strengthened after the Watergate scandal led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. The law has become a vital tool for journalists and others working to shine a light on the inner workings of government.Reaction to the court's ruling has been mixed. Adam A. Marshall of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said the decision is bad for government transparency. He said the effect may be limited, however, because the newspaper’s request was made before Congress amended the law in 2016 to make it harder for agencies to withhold information, even under the law's exemptions.“The state of FOIA is not great to begin with, and this certainly doesn’t help,” Marshall said. “I don’t think anyone would really say that FOIA is working well in terms of informing the... If you wish to read this full breaking news headline, plus more articles from around Thailand and Asia like, US Supreme Court Limits Access to Commercial Data Shared With Federal Agencies, simply click on 'Read full story' below, but 1st please give us a 'LIKE' or 'SHARE' before you leave. Thank you
Published By: VOA NEWS - Wednesday, 26 June
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