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Ready for some privacy turducken?

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The Supreme Court seems likely to accept a case involving background checks on employees who do contract work for the government, a legal hodgepodge which one judge has analogized to a turducken (a turkey stuffed with a duck and a chicken). 

The case was brought by a group of scientists and engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a research facility operated by CalTech under a contract with NASA.  In 2004, the government expanded the scope of background checks required for many government jobs, including those held by contract employees like those at the lab.  The plaintiffs claim that the government’s investigations are overly intrusive and violate their privacy rights.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the plaintiffs, and the government has asked the Supreme Court to hear the matter.

The plaintiffs particularly object to requests for information being solicited from schools, landlords, employers and other third parties, especially “adverse” information about alcohol and drug use; finances; and mental or emotional stability.  One form also gives informants space to provide “derogatory” information about the subject.


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