updated 06:25 pm EST, Tue March 1, 2011
Supreme Court overrules AT&T privacy rights
The Supreme Court has ruled on Tuesday that AT&T and other corporations will be required to disclose federal government records. The ruling was unanimous and overturned a ruling by a US appeals court in favor of AT&T, according to reports. The court agrees with the Obama administration's stance that personal privacy exemption under the Freedom of Information law applied to individuals and not corporations.
Public interest groups supported the decision, stating that if it went the other way, this could pave the way for companies to keep secrets about life-and-death decisions, such as work safety conditions, environmental impact reports and other information that would be essential.
Business groups side with AT&T, saying corporations enjoyed privacy rights in the past.
AT&T had hoped to to keep records of an investigation secret. The carrier participated in a federal E-Rate program that helped schools and libraries get Internet access but was accused of improperly billing its clients. The result led to a complaint and a $500,000 fine for AT&T.
The rub came when CompTel, a trade association that represents AT&T's competitors, requested all records regarding this in the FCC's file, citing the Freedom of Information Act. AT&T argued this would violate its right to privacy.