FCC v. AT&T

Print this Page
Case Basics
Docket No. 
09-1279
Petitioner 
Federal Communications Commission
Respondent 
AT&T
Decided By 
Advocates
(for the petitioners)
(for the respondents)
Term:
Facts of the Case 

CompTel, a trade association that represents some of AT&T;'s competitors, filed a FOIA request with the Federal Communications Commision in 2005, seeking documents related to an FCC probe into whether AT&T; had overcharged the agency for work on a technology education project. AT&T; fought the request, contending the production of the documents violated Exemption 7(c) of FOIA, which exempts document disclosures in law enforcement records that would constitute an invasion of “personal privacy.”

The FCC rejected AT&T;'s argument, but in September 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that the phrase "personal privacy" applied to corporations because other sections of FOIA had defined "person" as a corporation.

Question 

May corporations assert personal privacy interests to prevent the government from releasing documents about them?

Conclusion 
Decision: 8 votes for FCC, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Freedom of Information Act, privacy

No. The Supreme Court reversed the lower court decision in a unanimous opinion by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.. The court held that corporations do not have a right of personal privacy that would protect them from the disclosure of public records that have been handed over to federal agencies. Justice Elena Kagan took no part in consideration of the case.

Cite this Page
FCC v. AT&T . The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 24 July 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_09_1279>.
FCC v. AT&T , The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_09_1279 (last visited July 24, 2014).
"FCC v. AT&T ," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed July 24, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_09_1279.