Yesterday, in FCC v. AT&T, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected AT&T’s claim that records related to an FCC investigation of AT&T should be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act because such disclosure would violate AT&T’s “personal privacy.” Specifically, AT&T sought to invoke the FOIA exemption for law enforcement records the disclosure of which “could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
Key to AT&T’s argument was that if a corporation is a legal “person,” then it should have personal privacy rights. The Supreme Court did not buy it. The opinion by Chief Justice Roberts is short and sweet. It concludes:
We reject the argument that because “person” is defined for purposes of FOIA to include a corporation, the phrase “personal privacy” in Exemption 7(C) reaches corporations as well. The protection in FOIA against disclosure of law enforcement information on the ground that it would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy does not extend to corporations. We trust that AT&T will not take it personally.