In a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) action involving information on discussions between telecommunications carriers and the government over the carriers' potential liability for participating in the National Security Agency's post-9/11 warrantless, electronic surveillance program, summary judgment for plaintiff is affirmed in part where FOIA Exemption 6 did not protect the information sought because there was a strong public interest in disclosure of the identity of individuals who contacted the government to protect telecommunications companies from legal liability for their role in government surveillance activities. However, the judgment is vacated in part where: 1) the district court did not address FOIA Exemption 3 due to confusion in the parties' summary judgment briefing; and 2) the district court failed to make a fact-specific inquiry regarding the applicability of FOIA Exemption 5.
Argued and Submitted January 12, 2010
Filed February 9, 2010
Opinion by Judge Hawkins
Marcia Hofmann, San Francisco, CA