(a)In general. Business information obtained by the Department from a submitter will be disclosed under the FOIA only under this section.
(b)Definitions. For purposes of this section:
(1)Business information means commercial or financial information obtained by the Department from a submitter that may be protected from disclosure under Exemption 4 of the FOIA.
(2)Submitter means any person or entity from whom the Department obtains business information, directly or indirectly. The term includes corporations; state, local, and tribal governments; and foreign governments.
(c)Designation of business information. A submitter of business information will use good-faith efforts to designate, by appropriate markings, either at the time of submission or at a reasonable time thereafter, any portions of its submission that it considers to be protected from disclosure under Exemption 4. These designations will expire ten years after the date of the submission unless the submitter requests, and provides justification for, a longer designation period.
(d)Notice to submitters. A component shall provide a submitter with prompt written notice of a FOIA request or administrative appeal that seeks its business information wherever required under paragraph (e) of this section, except as provided in paragraph (h) of this section, in order to give the submitter an opportunity to object to disclosure of any specified portion of that information under paragraph (f) of this section. The notice shall either describe the business information requested or include copies of the requested records or record portions containing the information. When notification of a voluminous number of submitters is required, notification may be made by posting or publishing the notice in a place reasonably likely to accomplish it.
(e)Where notice is required. Notice shall be given to a submitter wherever:
(1) The information has been designated in good faith by the submitter as information considered protected from disclosure under Exemption 4; or
(2) The component has reason to believe that the information may be protected from disclosure under Exemption 4.
(f)Opportunity to object to disclosure. A component will allow a submitter a reasonable time to respond to the notice described in paragraph (d) of this section and will specify that time period within the notice. If a submitter has any objection to disclosure, it is required to submit a detailed written statement. The statement must specify all grounds for withholding any portion of the information under any exemption of the FOIA and, in the case of Exemption 4, it must show why the information is a trade secret or commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential. In the event that a submitter fails to respond to the notice within the time specified in it, the submitter will be considered to have no objection to disclosure of the information. Information provided by the submitter that is not received by the component until after its disclosure decision has been made shall not be considered by the component. Information provided by a submitter under this paragraph may itself be subject to disclosure under the FOIA.
(g)Notice of intent to disclose. A component shall consider a submitter's objections and specific grounds for nondisclosure in deciding whether to disclose business information. Whenever a component decides to disclose business information over the objection of a submitter, the component shall give the submitter written notice, which shall include:
(1) A statement of the reason(s) why each of the submitter's disclosure objections was not sustained;
(2) A description of the business information to be disclosed; and
(3) A specified disclosure date, which shall be a reasonable time subsequent to the notice.
(h)Exceptions to notice requirements. The notice requirements of paragraphs (d) and (g) of this section shall not apply if:
(1) The component determines that the information should not be disclosed;
(2) The information lawfully has been published or has been officially made available to the public;
(3) Disclosure of the information is required by statute (other than the FOIA) or by a regulation issued in accordance with the requirements of Executive Order 12600 (3 CFR, 1988 Comp., p. 235); or
(4) The designation made by the submitter under paragraph (c) of this section appears obviously frivolous—except that, in such a case, the component shall, within a reasonable time prior to a specified disclosure date, give the submitter written notice of any final decision to disclose the information.
(i)Notice of FOIA lawsuit. Whenever a requester files a lawsuit seeking to compel the disclosure of business information, the component shall promptly notify the submitter.
(j)Corresponding notice to requesters. Whenever a component provides a submitter with notice and an opportunity to object to disclosure under paragraph (d) of this section, the component shall also notify the requester(s). Whenever a component notifies a submitter of its intent to disclose requested information under paragraph (g) of this section, the component shall also notify the requester(s). Whenever a submitter files a lawsuit seeking to prevent the disclosure of business information, the component shall notify the requester(s).