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


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