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HL Chronicle of Data Protection Privacy & Information Security News & Trends

Tag Archives: constitutional right to privacy

Posted in Employment Privacy

Supreme Court Defers on Constitutional Right to Information Privacy; Scalia Predicts Increased Litigation

On January 19, the Supreme Court decided NASA v. Nelson, a case brought by NASA contractors alleging that questions asked by the federal agency in a background check violated their constitutional right to information privacy — i.e., a constitutional privacy interest in the government “avoiding the disclosure of personal matters” recognized in a pair of 1977 cases, Whalen v. Roe and Nixon v. Administrator of General Services. At issue were questions that asked whether the contractors received “any treatment or counseling” regarding illegal drug use within the previous year (as a follow up to a question regarding whether they used, possessed, supplied or manufactured illegal drugs within that year), and questions directed toward references for information bearing on “suitability for government employment or security clearance,” including “adverse information” about an the contractor’s “honesty or trustworthiness,” “violations of the law,” “financial integrity,” “abuse of alcohol and/or drugs,” “mental or emotional stability,” “general behavior or conduct,” or “other matters.”