Do Corporations Have Personal Privacy Rights?

June 4th, 2011 by Andy in Corporations, 'Democracy' & USA Inc.

This posting from Secrecy News, part of the FAS Project on Government Secrecy website of the Federation of American Scientists. Let’s hear it for those ‘activist judges’, the ones who have been operating on behalf of the rights of corporations and concentrated wealth ever since the Dartmouth case of 1815

The Supreme Court will decide next year whether corporations are entitled to “personal privacy” and whether they may prevent the release of records under the Freedom of Information Act on that basis. FOIA advocates say that assigning personal privacy rights to corporations could deal a crippling blow to the Act.

The case before the Court — known as FCC v. AT&T — arose from a FOIA request to the Federal Communications Commission for records of an investigation of a government contract held by AT&T. The FCC found that the requested records were subject to release under FOIA. But AT&T challenged that decision and won an appeals court ruling that the documents were law enforcement records that were exempt from disclosure because their release would constitute “an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” — namely, the “personal privacy” of AT&T.

The appeals court noted that the word “person” is defined in the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) to include corporations, and it went on to infer from this that the FOIA exemption for “personal privacy” in law enforcement records must logically extend to corporations as well.

But “that analysis does not withstand scrutiny,” the government argued in its petition to the Supreme Court for review of the case. Personal privacy can only apply to individual human beings, it said, and not to other entities. “The court of appeals’ novel construction would erroneously create a new and amorphous ‘privacy’ right not only for corporations but also for local, state, and foreign governments [which also fall under the APA definition of ‘person’].”

This is only the logical extension of the principle that a corporation is a “person,” in which case such rights should be granted to them.

The bottom line is, until we finally and fully end this absurdity of providing civic and even human rights to these institutional legal fictions, i.e. corporations being defined as “persons”, we will only continue further and further down this dead end road towards complete plutocracy and corporatocracy. Corporations, which are now the dominant institutions of our time, amassing controlling power over nearly all of our structures of governance, will now have totally flipped the whole premise of the original notion of American governance on its head - that whereas transparency of governance is created in contrast to providing privacy for the individual, will now be where institutional power becomes opaque, yet the personal life and business of the citizen becomes transparent and public, particularly to state organs of power.

That’s tyranny, folks, and as for any notion of our retaining any kind of a democratically accountable republic, we can quote Bugs Bunny in a Warner Brothers cartoon…”That’s All, Folks.”

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