The Trump Administration wants to delay the court-ordered release of all data for businesses that received Paycheck Protection Program loans and funds from the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
Under an order issued by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, the Small Business Administration is required to release that data by tomorrow, Nov. 19.
The SBA is asking for a delay “to preserve SBA’s right to appeal, and to avoid irreparable harm to SBA and to privacy and business confidentiality interests of the millions of individuals and businesses nationwide who obtained assistance through the PPP and EIDL in response to the pandemic.” The SBA is asking for a delay until Dec. 7 or until agency officials file an appeal.
The news organizations that filed suit to obtain access to the data oppose the delay. Those news organizations, including the Washington Post, had filed suit after the SBA declined Freedom of Information Act requests for the information.
In requesting the delay, the SBA continued to dispute whether the data should be made public. The agency contends that the data includes sensitive payroll information that should not be made public.
“Borrowers are already suffering from the dramatic decrease in economic activity the pandemic inflicted,” the agency said. “It would contradict the purposes of the [law creating the PPP] to subject them to further risk—in particular, the risk of competitors and other interested parties inferring payroll information from loan amounts and attributing that information to particular businesses, and using that information to the disadvantage of borrowers.”
The news organizations replied that the SBA did not present any new legal argument and said that no borrowers have protested the potential publication of the information.