Meaning of words can sometimes cause misunderstanding especially when viewed by different groups. In legal standpoint, the meaning of a word can significantly affect the coverage of a law. Just like in the case of the Freedom of Information Act, the word “personal privacy” was interpreted by some to include “privacy of corporations”. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia made such a decision.
The Freedom of Information Act was helpful in making open those documents that used to be out of the public’s eyes. It has made a distinction between those documents that can be divulged and those that cannot. Disclosure of facts gathered for law enforcement would be tantamount to “invasion of personal privacy” because these are considered private. Personal privacy is protected while the people’s right to know is also served. The abovementioned provision is stipulated in the law’s “exemption 7”.
What brought about such debate on word meaning? According to the appeals court, the phrase “personal privacy” is meant to include corporations. It further added that the word “personal” is the adjectival form of “person”. Because F.O.I A. defines “person” to include “corporation”, then it follows that personal privacy includes corporations.