FOIA Lens Cannot Scope Peace Corps Programs

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Peace Corps need not reveal sought-after survey information regarding the volunteers of its individual programs, a federal judge ruled.
     Charles Ludlam had sought the information under the Freedom of the Information Act, but U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan originally ruled in March that the Peace Corps could conceal its annual survey of volunteers on a program-by-program basis, but would have to divulge survey information on a country-by-country basis.
     Sullivan refused to reconsider that decision Thursday.
     The eight-page ruling notes that Exemption 6 of the Freedom of Information Act protects information involving matters of personal privacy, which applies to personnel and medical files associated with individual Peace Corps programs.
     “The court concluded that plaintiff failed to demonstrate a substantial public interest in program-by-program results warrant disclosure,” Sullivan wrote. “If breakdown of survey results at the country-by-country level presents a substantial likelihood that concrete facts about a particular individual could be inferred, as the Court previously found, it follows that the breakdown at the program-by-program level within a particular country presents even more risk of invading personal privacy.”
     Peace Corps statistics reveal that more than 210,000 volunteers have served in 139 host countries since the organization’s inception in 1961 as the brainchild of President John F. Kennedy.

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