The commission will provide special handling and limited access to confidential information submitted in compliance with this rule. This rule applies to any information submitted under a claim of confidentiality under RCW 80.04.095
. Title 81 RCW does not contain a similar statute. See also, WAC 480-07-420
regarding protective orders in adjudicative proceedings.
(a) Designated official.
The commission's secretary is the designated official responsible for the commission's compliance with the Public Records Act, chapter 42.56
RCW, and for the implementation of this rule. The secretary may designate one or more persons to serve as public records officer to assist in the implementation and application of this rule.
(b) Provider. Any person who submits information to the commission or commission staff under a claim of confidentiality pursuant to this rule is a "provider," as that term is used in this rule.
Any person who submits a request for public records under the Public Records Act, chapter 42.56
RCW, or a data request in an adjudicative proceeding is a "requester," as that term is used in this rule.
(2) Confidential information defined. Confidential information is information that meets any of the following criteria:
(a) Information protected from inspection or copying under an exemption from disclosure requirements under the Public Records Act, chapter 42.56
(b) Information protected under the terms of a protective order in an adjudicative proceeding.
(c) Valuable commercial information, including trade secrets or confidential marketing, cost, or financial information, or customer-specific usage and network configuration and design information, as provided in RCW 80.04.095
(3) How to designate and seek protection of confidential information under this section. A provider may claim the protection of this rule only by strict compliance with the following requirements. Any failure to comply with these requirements may result in the submission not being accepted as one including confidential information.
(a) Contents. The provider must submit the claim of confidentiality in writing, in the same form (i.e., paper or electronic) and at the same time the information claimed to be confidential is submitted. The provider must state the basis upon which the information is claimed to be confidential under this rule, and must identify any person (other than the provider) that might be directly affected by disclosure of the confidential information.
(i) Paper copies. When the document is in paper format, and there is no protective order in place, the provider must clearly mark each copy with the designation "confidential per WAC 480-07-160." The provider must place this mark on the first page of a multipage document and each specific page where the provider claims there is confidential information.
(ii) Electronic copies.
When the document is in electronic format, such as an e-mail message, or a word processing or spreadsheet file, the "confidential per WAC 480-07-160" mark must be inserted in the e-mail message or on the disk or diskette, on the first page in the file and on each page that the provider claims contains confidential information. The provider must follow the requirements in (c) of this subsection and the format requirements in WAC 480-07-140
(6) for submitting electronic documents. Specifically, parties must separately submit and clearly identify electronic versions of confidential and redacted documents when submitting documents via e-mail or the commission's web portal.
(iii) Protective order, if any, must be cited.
If the provider submits confidential information under the provisions of a protective order, the "confidential" identification on the disk, diskette, or e-mail, on the first page of the document and each page that includes confidential information must state: "Confidential per protective order in WUTC Docket [insert docket number]." When the provider submits confidential information in an electronic format, the provider must mark the document as with a paper copy and follow the format requirements in WAC 480-07-140
(6) for submitting electronic documents.
(c) Unredacted version under seal; redacted version. The provider must submit an original and the required number of complete copies of the version of the document as to which confidentiality is claimed (unredacted version) and an original and one complete copy of the version of the document with the information claimed to be confidential masked (redacted version). If the provider submits a document under a claim that the entire document is confidential, the provider may submit only the first page of the redacted version if the page indicates that the entire document is claimed to contain confidential information.
(i) Sealing and labels. The redacted version must be so labeled and submitted along with a set of any confidential documents. The confidential unredacted version must be so labeled and submitted in a sealed envelope or similar wrapping. A party submitting multiple confidential documents must collate the documents into sets and, to the extent feasible, must enclose each set of confidential documents in a separate envelope and each set of highly confidential documents for filing in a separate envelope.
(ii) Marking. Each page of the unredacted version that includes information claimed to be confidential must be printed on yellow or canary paper with the confidential information clearly designated (e.g., by highlighting text with no more than twenty percent grey shading, outlining the confidential information in a box or border, or setting the text off with asterisks). Similarly, each page of the unredacted version that contains information designated highly confidential under a protective order, must be printed on light blue paper with the highly confidential information clearly designated (e.g., by highlighting text with no more than twenty percent grey shading, outlining the highly confidential information in a box or border, or setting the text off with asterisks). The redacted version will be available for public disclosure if requested. The redacted and unredacted versions must have the same pagination and line numbering.
(iii) Number of copies. The provider must submit an original and one redacted copy of each confidential or highly confidential document and an original and twelve copies of the unredacted version of each confidential or highly confidential document, unless the commission has required a different number of copies to be filed. If a document includes both confidential and highly confidential information, the provider must submit unredacted copies including both the confidential and highly confidential information in the same document.
(4) Challenges to claims of confidentiality.
The commission or a party to a proceeding in which a provider submits a document with a claim of confidentiality may challenge the claim. When a challenge is made, the commission will provide an opportunity to respond before ruling on the challenge. If a confidential designation is challenged, the provider of the confidential information bears the burden to show that part or all of a document should be protected from disclosure under chapter 42.56
RCW, RCW 80.04.095
, or a protective order. The commission may express its ruling orally on the record in an adjudicative proceeding, or in a written order.
(5) Requests for "confidential" information. Subject to subsections (6) and (7) of this section, the commission will release information designated confidential in response to a request properly filed under the following requirements:
(a) The requester must submit a written request to the commission's secretary on a form provided by the commission or in a letter containing equivalent supporting information, including the requester's name and address and the name and address of any organization on whose behalf or for whose benefit the request is being made. The requester must state whether the information sought is to be used for a commercial purpose.
(b) The request must be sufficiently specific to allow the secretary to readily identify the document or other material that contains the requested information. Following receipt of a request for confidential information, the secretary will notify the requester of any deficiency in the request. The requester is required to correct the request and resubmit it pursuant to this rule. The commission will take no action pending resubmission.
(c) If a requester wants copies of any documents identified in response to a request, the requester must make arrangements with the commission's secretary to pay the designated copying fees, if any.
(6) Informal resolution. When the secretary and the requester agree that the secretary can satisfy the requester's need for information without disclosing confidential information, the secretary will make the information available.
(7) Notice of request for information designated confidential; release of information designated confidential. The commission will provide written notice of any request for information designated confidential to the provider and any person identified by the provider as a person who might be directly affected by release of the information. This is to permit any person asserting confidentiality or who might be affected by the release of the information to invoke the statutory procedures for securing a court order to protect the records from disclosure or to take similar steps in compliance with a protective order in an adjudicative proceeding. The commission will issue such notice not more than two days after the requested materials are located and it determines that they contain information claimed to be confidential. The commission will send a copy of the notice to the requester at the same time it sends a copy to the provider.
If the provider consents in writing to the release of the information, or does not restrain disclosure by way of court order within ten days following notice, the commission will consider the information public, remove the confidential designation from its files, and release the information to the requester.
(8) Judicial intervention by the commission. The commission need not assist any person in seeking or resisting judicial intervention, but may participate in any such proceeding.
(9) Designation or redesignation of confidential information in adjudications. At the conclusion of an adjudication in which confidentiality was asserted as to documents or portions of the record, the party originally asserting confidentiality must, no later than the time for filing briefs or, if no briefs are filed, within ten days after the close of the record, do the following:
(a) Verify the accuracy of all confidential designations in the record and in the exhibit list for the proceeding, and submit any proposed corrections or changes. Absent a statement of proposed corrections or changes, the designations in the record and in the exhibit list are final and will be changed only if the party asserting confidentiality voluntarily removes, or is required to remove, a confidential designation. If there is conflict between designations, the designation that is least restrictive to public access will be adopted.
(b) File a redacted and unredacted copy of any document as to which confidentiality was asserted during the proceeding but which is not reflected in the record or exhibit list as a document designated confidential.
(c) File an unredacted version of any document designated as confidential during the proceeding, but as to which the party claiming confidentiality wishes to remove the confidential designation, or as to which the confidential designation was terminated by order. In the case of briefs, testimony, and similar documents, the authoring party must file the unredacted version.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 80.01.040
and 80.04.160. WSR 08-18-012 (Docket A-072162, General Order R-550), § 480-07-160, filed 8/22/08, effective 9/22/08; WSR 06-16-053 (Docket A-050802, General Order R-536), § 480-07-160, filed 7/27/06, effective 8/27/06; WSR 03-24-028 (General Order R-510, Docket No. A-010648), § 480-07-160, filed 11/24/03, effective 1/1/04.]
Reviser's note: The brackets and enclosed material in the text of the above section occurred in the copy filed by the agency.