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Goodbye, Corporation Privacy

March 1, 2011

Today the Supreme Court ruled against AT&T, deciding that corporations do not have a right to privacy when it comes to documents they have turned over to the government. It’s a case AT&T has been fighting since turning over loads of documents to the government to avoid being punished for making too much money off of the E-rate program. Utilizing the Freedom of Information Act, people asked for those files, and AT&T has been arguing their right to privacy.

It’s a question that has come up before, most prominently and recently in the Supreme Court’s decision for a corporation’s rights to spend in candidate elections.

Based off of those two rulings, it seems the Supreme Court isn’t leaning either way on the topic. Although granting corporations the right to spend, they are not welcome to the privacy protections of an individual. It’s good news for journalists, who may now have access to documents often sealed away by corporations. Access should add another layer of transparency to a company’s dealings.

Don’t expect companies to take this lightly, though. Instead of fighting for privacy, they may turn to concealing documents in house and fighting things there. We still cannot request information from a company and expect them to just turn it over, but today’s ruling is a step in the right direction, adding the government as an ally to the journalist looking for files.

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