15 CFR 2004.4 - How will we handle confidential commercial information?

§ 2004.4 How will we handle confidential commercial information?

(a)Definitions. For purposes of this section:

(1)Confidential commercial information means commercial or financial information that we obtain from a submitter that may be protected from disclosure under exemption 4 of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4).

(2)Submitter means any person or entity, including a corporation or a State or foreign government, but not including another Federal Government entity, which provides information, either directly or indirectly to the Federal Government.

(b)How does a submitter designate confidential commercial information? At the time of submission, the submitter of confidential commercial information must use good faith efforts to designate by appropriate markings any portion of its submission that it considers to be protected from disclosure under exemption 4 of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4). These designations expire ten years after the date of the submission unless the submitter requests and provides justification for a longer designation period.

(c)When will we notify a submitter? (1) We promptly will notify the submitter of confidential commercial information in writing whenever we receive a FOIA request or appeal for records containing such information if we determine that we may have to disclose the records, provided:

(i) The requested information has been designated in good faith by the submitter as information considered protected from disclosure under exemption 4 of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4); or

(ii) We have reason to believe that the requested information may be protected from disclosure exemption 4 of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4), but have not yet determined whether the information is protected from disclosure under that exemption or any other applicable FOIA exemption.

(2) Our notice either will describe the commercial information requested or include a copy of the requested records or portions of records containing the information. In cases involving a voluminous number of submitters, we may post or publish a notice in a place or manner reasonably likely to inform the submitters of the proposed disclosure without publicly disclosing the records, instead of sending individual notifications.

(3) We promptly will notify the submitter whenever a requester files a lawsuit seeking to compel the disclosure of the submitter's confidential commercial information.

(d)Exceptions to submitter notice requirements. The notice requirements of this section do not apply if:

(1) We determine that the information is exempt under the FOIA, and therefore will not be disclosed;

(2) The information has been lawfully published or has officially been made available to the public;

(3) Disclosure of the information is required by a statute other than the FOIA or by a regulation issued in accordance with the requirements of Executive Order 12600 of June 23, 1987, Predisclosure notification procedures for confidential commercial information; or

(4) The designation made by the submitter under paragraph (b) of this section appears obviously frivolous. In such case, we will give the submitter written notice of any final decision to disclose the information and a reasonable time period within which to object to disclosure under paragraph (e) of this section.

(e)How can a submitter object to disclosure? (1) If a submitter has any objections to disclosure, it should provide to us within the period listed in the notice a detailed written statement that specifies all grounds for withholding the particular information under any FOIA exemption. In order to rely on exemption 4 as a basis for nondisclosure, the submitter must explain why the information constitutes a trade secret or commercial or financial information that is confidential.

(2) A submitter who does not respond within the time period specified in the notice will be considered to have no objection to disclosure of the information. We will not consider any information we receive after the date of any disclosure decision. Any information provided by the submitter under this section may itself be subject to disclosure under the FOIA.

(f)Analysis of objections. We will consider the submitter's objections and specific grounds for nondisclosure in deciding whether to disclose the requested information.

(g)Notice of intent to disclose. We will notify the submitter whenever we decide to disclose information over the submitter's objection. Our written notice will include:

(1) A statement of the reasons why we did not sustain each of the submitter's disclosure objections;

(2) A description of the information to be disclosed or copies of the records as we intend to release them; and

(3) A specified disclosure date, which will be a reasonable time after the notice.

(h)When will we notify a requester? We will notify the requester whenever we provide the submitter with notice and an opportunity to object to disclosure; whenever we notify the submitter of our intent to disclose the requested information; and whenever the submitter files a lawsuit to prevent the disclosure of the information.

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