49 CFR 1001.4 - Predisclosure notification procedures for confidential commercial information.
(a) In general. Confidential commercial information provided to the Interstate Commerce Commission or the Board shall not be disclosed pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request except in accordance with this section. For such purposes, the following definitions apply:
(1) Confidential commercial information means records provided to the government by a submitter that arguably contain material exempt from release under Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4), because disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm.
(2) Submitter means any person or entity who provides confidential commercial information to the government. The term “submitter” includes, but is not limited to, corporations, state governments, and foreign governments.
(b) Notice to submitters. Except as provided in paragraph (g) of this section, the Board, to the extent permitted by law, shall provide a submitter with prompt written notice, in accordance with paragraph (c) of this section, of receipt of an FOIA request encompassing its submissions. This notice shall either describe the exact nature of the information requested or provide copies of the records themselves.
(c) When notice is required. Notice shall be given to a submitter whenever:
(1) The Board has reason to believe that disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm; or
(2) The information has been designated, in good faith by the submitter, as confidential commercial information at the time of submission or within a reasonable time thereafter. Whenever possible, the submitter's claim of confidentiality shall be supported by a statement or certification by an officer or authorized representative of the company that the information in question is in fact confidential commercial 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, the Board shall afford a submitter a reasonable period of time in which to provide it with a detailed statement of any objection to disclosure. Such statement shall specify all grounds for withholding the requested information.
(2) When notice is given to a submitter under this section, the Board also shall notify the requester that it has been provided.
(e) Notice of intent to disclose. (1) The Board shall consider carefully a submitter's objections and specific grounds for nondisclosure prior to its determination whether or not to disclose the requested information. Whenever the Board decides to disclose the information over a submitter's objection, it shall provide the submitter with written notice containing the following:
(i) A description or copy of the information to be disclosed;
(ii) The reasons why the submitter's disclosure objections were not sustained; and
(iii) A specific disclosure date, which shall be a reasonable number of days after the notice of intent to disclose has been mailed to the submitter.
(2) At the same time that notice of intent to disclose is given to a submitter, the Board shall notify the requester accordingly.
(f) Notice of lawsuit. (1) Whenever an FOIA requester brings legal action seeking to compel disclosure of confidential commercial information, the Board shall promptly notify the submitter.
(2) Whenever a submitter brings legal action seeking to prevent disclosure of confidential commercial information, the Board shall promptly notify the requester.
(g) Exception to notice requirement. The notice requirements of this section shall not apply if:
(1) The Board determines that the information requested should not be disclosed; or
(2) The information already has been published or otherwise officially made available to the public; or
(3) Disclosure of the information is required by law (other than 5 U.S.C. 552); or
(4) Disclosure is required by a Board rule that:
(i) Was adopted pursuant to notice and public comment;
(ii) Specifies narrow classes of records submitted to the Board that are to be released; and
(iii) Provides in exceptional circumstances for notice when the submitter provides written justification, at the time the information is submitted or within a reasonable time thereafter, that disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm; or
(5) The information requested was not designated by the submitter as exempt from disclosure, when the submitter had an opportunity to do so at the time of submission or within a reasonable time thereafter, unless the Board has reason to believe that disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm; or
(6) The designation made by the submitter in accordance with these regulations appears obviously frivolous; in such case, the Board must provide the submitter only with written notice of any administrative disclosure determination within a reasonable number of days prior to the specified disclosure date.