(a) Filing document under seal.
(1) The Director may file any document or any part of a document under seal and/or seek a protective order concerning any document if disclosure of the document would be inconsistent with the protection of the public interest or if justice requires protection of any person, including a source or a party, from annoyance, threat, oppression, or undue burden or expense, or the disclosure of the information would be, or might reasonably lead to a disclosure, contrary to Executive Order 12958, as amended by Executive Order 13292, or other Executive orders concerning disclosure of information, Department regulations, or the Privacy Act, or information exempt from release under the Freedom of Information Act. The Administrative Law Judge shall allow placement of any such document under seal and/or grant a protective order upon a showing that the disclosure would be inconsistent with any such statute or Executive order, or that the harm resulting from disclosure would outweigh the benefits of disclosure.
(2) A respondent may file any document or any part of a document under seal and/or seek a protective order to limit such document from disclosure to other parties or to the public. The Administrative Law Judge shall allow placement of any document under seal and/or grant a protective order upon a showing that the harm resulting from disclosure would outweigh the benefits of disclosure.
(3) The Administrative Law Judge shall safeguard the security and integrity of any documents under seal or protective order and shall take all appropriate steps to preserve the confidentiality of such documents or any parts thereof, including closing a hearing or portions of a hearing to the public. Release of any information under seal or to the extent inconsistent with a protective order, in any form or manner, is subject to the sanctions and the exercise of the authorities as are provided with respect to ex parte communications under § 501.719.
(4) If the Administrative Law Judge denies placement of any document under seal or under protective order, any party, and any person whose document or material is at issue, may obtain interlocutory review by the Secretary's designee. In such cases the Administrative Law Judge shall not release or expose any of the records or documents in question to the public or to any person for a period of 20 days from the date of the Administrative Law Judge's ruling, in order to permit a party the opportunity either to withdraw the records and documents or obtain interlocutory review by the Secretary's designee and an order that the records be placed under seal or a protective order.
(5) Upon settlement, final decision, or motion to the Administrative Law Judge for good cause shown, all materials (including all copies) under seal or protective order shall be returned to the submitting parties, except when it may be necessary to retain a record until any judicial process is completed.
(i) Written notice of each request for release of documents or materials under seal or subject to a protective order shall be given to the parties at least 20 days prior to any permitted release or prior to any access not specifically authorized under a protective order. A copy of each request for information, including the name, address, and telephone number of the requester, shall be provided to the parties.
(ii) Each request for access to protected material shall include the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all persons on whose behalf the requester seeks access to protected information. The Administrative Law Judge may impose sanctions as provided under § 501.729 for failure to provide this information.
(b) Application. An application for a protective order or to place under seal shall be filed with the Administrative Law Judge. The application shall be accompanied by a sealed copy of the materials as to which confidential treatment is sought.
(1) Procedure for supplying additional information. The person making the application may be required to furnish in writing additional information with respect to the grounds for objection to public disclosure. Failure to supply the information so requested within 14 days from the date of receipt of a notice of the information required shall be deemed a waiver of the objection to public disclosure of that portion of the information to which the additional information relates, unless the Administrative Law Judge shall otherwise order for good cause shown at or before the expiration of such 14-day period.
(2) Confidentiality of materials pending final decision. Pending the determination of the application for confidential treatment, transcripts, non-final orders including an initial decision, if any, and other materials in connection with the application shall be placed under seal; shall be for the confidential use only of the Administrative Law Judge, the Secretary's designee, the applicant, the Director, and any other respondent and representative; and shall be made available to the public only in accordance with orders of the Administrative Law Judge or the Secretary's designee.
(3) Public availability of orders. Any final order of the Administrative Law Judge or the Secretary's designee denying or sustaining an application for confidential treatment shall be made public. Any prior findings or opinions relating to an application for confidential treatment under this section shall be made public at such time as the material as to which confidentiality was requested is made public.