Commerce Under Secretary Kenneth I. Juster today welcomed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, issued this past Friday, reaffirming the Department’s ability to protect the confidentiality of information submitted to it concerning exports of sensitive goods and technologies. This decision upholds Commerce’s long-standing practice of protecting information concerning export transactions from disclosure except when disclosure is determined to be in the national interest.
“We welcome this decision because the Department’s ability to protect this information is important to our national and economic security. Public disclosure of such information could assist proliferating countries or terrorists in the development of weapons of mass destruction, and could also damage the competitiveness of U.S. business,” said Juster.
The appellate court's decision comes in a case brought by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control seeking release of information submitted to the Department's Bureau of Industry and Security by applicants for licenses to export controlled goods and technologies. As part of such license applications, exporters submit detailed business and technical information to the Department. In order to enable the Department to make well-informed licensing decisions and to encourage exporters to be forthcoming in providing such information, the Department safeguards the confidentiality of this information. Significantly, the D.C. Circuit decision allows this information to be protected even during lapses of the Export Administration Act, reaffirming a 2001 holding by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a similar case.