Freedom Of Information Act Request Granted? Nah, Not Really
Without sounding preachy, if there’s one underlying goal of MyTwoCensus.com, it is to bring more transparency and knowledge about the 2010 Census to the people of the United States of America. One way that we seek to accomplish this goal is by making Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain information that is not available to the public. One such investigation that produced FOIA requests related to the $200 million 2010 Census media contract with Draftfcb, GlobalHue, and other firms involved with the 2010 Census advertising and marketing efforts. We were initially thrilled last Thursday morning when we finally received copies of the information that we requested. However, all is not hunky-dory in Censusland. Out of the 132 pages that were sent to us, 60 pages contained segments that were partially or fully redacted. Thus, our ongoing analysis of this contract will not ever be as complete as it could possibly be. All of this information has been redacted under FOIA clause (b)(4):
Exemption 4 of the FOIA protects “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person [that is] privileged or confidential.” (1) This exemption is intended to protect the interests of both the government and submitters of information. Its very existence encourages submitters to voluntarily furnish useful commercial or financial information to the government and it correspondingly provides the government with an assurance that such information will be reliable. The exemption also affords protection to those submitters who are required to furnish commercial or financial information to the government by safeguarding them from the competitive disadvantages that could result from disclosure. (2) The exemption covers two broad categories of information in federal agency records: (1) trade secrets; and (2) information that is (a) commercial or financial, and (b) obtained from a person, and (c) privileged or confidential.