You may have received an e-mail notice this week from the CPSC about the FOIA office’s new “Electronic Manufacturer Notification Collaboration Portal.” The main purpose of the Portal is to reduce costs by using e-mail instead of snail mail for Section 6(b) and other FOIA-related notifications.
Generally, automation of this process shouldn’t result in any meaningful changes in the FOIA notification and objection process. The Commission’s regulations allow firms to submit information with a request for confidential treatment. If the Commission receives a FOIA request for information previously designated confidential, the person who previously submitted the request for confidentiality is notified of the FOIA request and the need for quick response to protect that information from disclosure.
Given the quick turnaround time on requesting exemption from disclosure under FOIA, it is imperative for all industry players to make sure that the right contact is assigned – including someone in the Legal Department – to receive Portal notifications so your team can make quick decisions and take action if filing an objection with the CPSC is necessary. The same contact person used for the Clearinghouse or Saferproducts.gov is a good bet. But requesting an exemption under FOIA takes some analysis of the regulations. Was the information submitted under section 15? Is it a trade secret? And so, companies would be well advised to make sure they have a process in place and conduct a training program to protect confidential data from disclosure.
If you haven’t yet received any notifications about the new automated Portal, you should check in with the CPSC at email@example.com and provide contact information for the proper registration person. The full text of the notification recently sent by the CPSC is below: