The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has issued an interesting decision on Exemption 7(C) and the idea of practical obscurity that has been around since the Supreme Court's decision in U.S. Dep't of Justice v. Reporter's Comm. for Freedom of the Press over twenty years ago.
This case concerns the ACLU's request for cases in which warrantless cell phone information was used by the Department of Justice in criminal cases. The district court had found that a balancing test under Exemption 7(C) found a public interest outweighing the privacy interests of those convicted of crimes. The D.C. Circuit agreed and found that the requested information was not practically obscure. Even more interesting was the court's discussion of how the judicial system's PACER system and the internet has changed the way material can be located -- making certain items much less obscure.
The case has been remanded to the district court for further proceedings.