The New York Times and its reporter Ron Nixon (collectively the “Times”) brought an action pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (the “Act”) against the United States Treasury in the New York Southern District court. The Times sought to compel the Treasury Department to release the names of individuals who had been granted licenses by the Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) to conduct business in or with foreign countries that would otherwise be unlawful under OFAC’s economic sanctions programs. In relying on the “personal information” exemption in the Act, the Treasury Department sought to deny the Times access to the list of licensees. The New York magistrate judge balanced the individual licensees’ privacy interest in their identities against the public’s interest in disclosure and held that the privacy interest in the case was minimal compared to the public interest as identified by the Times. Accordingly, the court granted the Times’ motion for summary judgment and ordered the Treasury to release the information sought. The Treasury Department petitioned for, and was granted, a stay of the judgment for forty-five days. It therefore has until November 29, 2010 to appeal the decision.
The full Decision and Order, titled New York Times Company and Ron Nixon, v. The United States Department of the Treasury, No. 09-civ-10437 (FM) (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 13, 2010), can be found here.