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Elec. Privacy Info. Ctr. v. DHS, No. 13-260, 2013 WL 5976973 (D.D.C. November 12, 2013) (Boasberg, J.)

Re: Request for documents concerning defendant's protocol for shutdown of wireless networks in emergencies to prevent the remote detonation of explosive devices Disposition: Denying defendant's motion for summary judgment; granting plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment
  • Exemption 7E:  The court holds that Exemption 7E cannot be used to protect the standard operating procedure which describes the shutdown and restoration process for wireless networks for use in the event of a crisis.  The court finds that "[defendant] clearly surpasses the first hurdle," that "'[s]teps by law enforcement officers to prevent terrorism surely fulfill 'law enforcement purposes.''"  However, the court also finds that "[defendant's] trouble comes at the second step, which requires that the disclosure would reveal 'techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions.'"  The court explains that "[l]ooking at the amended language, the Court agrees with the Government that Exemption 7's mention of 'law enforcement purposes' may certainly include preventive measures."  However, the court further explains that, "[t]he problem is that 7(E)'s reference to 'law enforcement investigations and prosecutions' does not."  The court determines that "[i]f 'techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions' is given its natural meaning, it cannot encompass the protective measures discussed in [the document at issue].  This term refers only to acts by law enforcement after or during the commission of a crime, not crime-prevention techniques."
  • Exemption 7F:  The court holds that Exemption 7F also does not protect the document.  The court finds that while "[defendant] easily clears the 'law enforcement purposes' hurdle," "the second requirement leads to [defendant's] undoing."  The court explains that defendant "must show that production would 'endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.'"  However, "[t]he individuals that [defendant] claims satisfy the standard are anyone 'within the blast radius of a remotely detonated bomb.'"  The court determines that "[t]his expansive interpretation of 'any individual' is . . . far more than Congress approved" when it amended the exemption.
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 7(E)
Exemption 7(F)
Updated August 6, 2014