Protection of Government PropertyDisclosure of
Confidential Government Information
Section 1905 of Title 18 prohibits the disclosure of various forms
confidential government information including trade secrets, processes,
operations, style of work or apparatus by an employee of the United States.
establish a violation of this section, the government must prove that: (1)
defendant was an officer or employee of the United States; (2) the defendant
disclosed confidential information; and (3) the defendant knew that the
information so disclosed was confidential "in the sense that its disclosure
forbidden by agency official policy (or by regulation or law). United
v. Wallington, 889 F.2d 573, 578 (5th Cir. 1989).|
There is a wide divergence of views as to the proper scope of this
section and its relationship to the Freedom of Information Act. The
have been exacerbated by the decision of the Supreme Court in Chrysler
Corporation v. Brown, 441 U.S. 281 (1979), and the confusion engendered
to the propriety of releases made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act
material that arguably could fall within the meaning of 18 U.S.C.
the release of information in question was made in a good faith effort to
with the Freedom of Information Act and the applicable regulations.
The Criminal Division does not intend to prevent or discourage
prosecutions under any other applicable statutes, such as those prohibiting
theft or the unauthorized dissemination or possession of government
see e.g., 18 U.S.C. §§ 641, 793, 794, or 50 U.S.C.
Instead, the Division's purpose is to require that, in the circumstance
above, such cases are prosecuted under these other applicable statutes
than under 18 U.S.C. § 1905.
This does not change the responsibility of Federal government
to maintain the confidentiality of protected government information
them in the course of their employment.
[cited in USAM 9-66.400]