(a) The following information received or prepared by the Department in the course of carrying out its duties and responsibilities under this Article is confidential information and shall not be subject to disclosure under G.S. 132-6:
(1) Information which the Secretary determines is entitled to confidential treatment pursuant to G.S. 132-1.2. If the Secretary determines that information received by the Department is not entitled to confidential treatment, the Secretary shall inform the person who provided the information of that determination at the time such determination is made. The Secretary may refuse to accept or may return any information that is claimed to be confidential that the Secretary determines is not entitled to confidential treatment.
(2) Information that is confidential under any provision of federal or state law.
(3) Information compiled in anticipation of enforcement or criminal proceedings, but only to the extent disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with the institution of such proceedings.
(b) Confidential information may be disclosed to officers, employees, or authorized representatives of federal or state agencies if such disclosure is necessary to carry out a proper function of the Department or the requesting agency or when relevant in any proceeding under this Article.
(c) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section or as otherwise provided by law, any officer or employee of the State who knowingly discloses information designated as confidential under this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and shall be removed from office or discharged from employment. (1977, 2nd Sess., c. 1216; 1983, c. 891, s. 2; 1985, c. 738, s. 5; 1987, c. 282, s. 20; 1991, c. 745, s. 2; 1993, c. 539, s. 951; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).)