(a)In general. Business information provided to the Department of the Treasury by a business submitter shall not be disclosed pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request except in accordance with this section.
(b)Notice to business submitters. A bureau shall provide a business submitter with prompt written notice of receipt of a request or appeal encompassing its business information whenever required in accordance with paragraph (c) of this section, and except as is provided in paragraph (g) of this section. Such written notice shall either describe the exact nature of the business information requested or provide copies of the records or portions of records containing the business information.
(c)When notice is required. The bureau shall provide a business submitter with notice of receipt of a request or appeal whenever:
(1) The business submitter has in good faith designated the information as commercially or financially sensitive information, or
(2) The bureau has reason to believe that disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm.
(3) Notice of a request for business information falling within paragraph (c)(1) or (2) of this section shall be required for a period of not more than ten years after the date of submission unless the business submitter requests, and provides acceptable justification for, a specific notice period of greater duration.
(4) The submitter's claim of confidentiality should be supported by a statement by an authorized representative of the company providing specific justification that the information in question is in fact confidential commercial or financial information and has not been disclosed to the public.
(d)Opportunity to object to disclosure.
(1) Through the notice described in paragraph (b) of this section, a bureau shall afford a business submitter ten days from the date of the notice (exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public holidays) to provide the bureau with a detailed statement of any objection to disclosure. Such statement shall specify all grounds for withholding any of the information under any exemption of the Freedom of Information Act and, in the case of Exemption 4, shall demonstrate why the information is considered to be a trade secret or commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential. Information provided by a business submitter pursuant to this paragraph may itself be subject to disclosure under the FOIA.
(2) When notice is given to a submitter under this section, the requester shall be advised that such notice has been given to the submitter. The requester shall be further advised that a delay in responding to the request may be considered a denial of access to records and that the requester may proceed with an administrative appeal or seek judicial review, if appropriate. However, the requester will be invited to agree to a voluntary extension of time so that the bureau may review the business submitter's objection to disclose.
(e)Notice of intent to disclose. A bureau shall consider carefully a business submitter's objections and specific grounds for nondisclosure prior to determining whether to disclose business information. Whenever a bureau decides to disclose business information over the objection of a business submitter, the bureau shall forward to the business submitter a written notice which shall include:
(1) A statement of the reasons for which the business submitter's disclosure objections were not sustained;
(2) A description of the business information to be disclosed; and
(3) A specified disclosure date which is not less than ten days (exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public holidays) after the notice of the final decision to release the requested information has been mailed to the submitter. Except as otherwise prohibited by law, a copy of the disclosure notice shall be forwarded to the requester at the same time.
(f)Notice of FOIA lawsuit. Whenever a requester brings suit seeking to compel disclosure of business information covered by paragraph (c) of this section, the bureau shall promptly notify the business submitter.
(g)Exception to notice requirement. The notice requirements of this section shall not apply if:
(1) The bureau determines that the information shall not be disclosed;
(2) The information lawfully has been published or otherwise made available to the public; or
(3) Disclosure of the information is required by law (other than 5 U.S.C. 552).
Title 31 published on 2013-07-01
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