Monday, May 10, 2021

US covid contract details a ‘trade secret’ – contractors say

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As part of our reports, we requested several Deloitte contracts unrelated to the vaccination system from the United States Food and Drug Administration. This agency also redacted similar information.

“It’s basically a rubber stamp

All redactions cite a Freedom of Information Act rule commonly referred to as Exemption 4, which allows companies to hide “business information” such as trade secrets from the public.

The entrepreneur, rather than the government, decides what is considered sensitive information. When a government agency receives a request for documents, it sends that request to contractors, who mark what they want to keep secret.

Companies are essentially free to call contract details “confidential business information”, thanks to a Decision 2019 by the Supreme Court. Before that, companies had to explain why disclosing the information would cause “material harm” to their business.

“Now all the agency has to do is get an affidavit from someone in the company that says, ‘We are treating this as confidential business information.’ Period. Complete shutdown, ”says Victoria Baranetsky, general counsel for the Center for Investigative Reporting. “It’s basically a rubber stamp.”

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