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Disclosure of Confidential Business Records Obtained Under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act

Headnotes: 

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is not authorized to release confidential information and trade secrets obtained pursuant to § 112 of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act to the Federal Trade Commission (Commission) for use in a pending investigation of possible unfair and deceptive trade practices; § 112(e) precludes disclosure to agencies other than those charged with enforcing Title I of that Act, except in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 1905.

Under 18 U.S.C. § 1905, confidential corporate records may be released if authorized by law; in the present situation only § 8 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which confers on the President power to authorize disclosure to the Commission of confidential business information protected by § 1905, constitutes such authority.

Executive Order No. 12,174 is designed to minimize paperwork burdens on executive agencies, and does not authorize the NHTSA to disclose information protected by § 1905; nor does § 9 of the Federal Trade Commission Act provide such authority, at least in cases where the Commission has not sought to obtain the information through a request to the President under § 8, or directly from the party under investigation.

Updated July 9, 2014