Thursday, January 20, 2011

Privacy is for the Gated Community only

The long-standing fevered dreams of the right are ever coming true, and providing the propellant is the Supreme Court:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday to allow sweeping background checks of JPL scientists and other government contract workers, ruling that privacy rights do not prevent officials from digging into employees' medical, financial and sexual histories.

JPL's virtually exclusive mission is planetary exploration. So it's obvious why such intrusions are necessary. We cannot have someone who once declared bankruptcy or likes the occasional shocker selling research to Jupiter before it can be broadcast on Nova; or telling Saturnians, "we're going to enjoy probing your moons!". Science is clearly best served when it is performed only by the most politically sanitized of people, like Tycho.

But have no fear, just because the decision was unanimous doesn't mean it applies to fields filled by non-scientist types:

...the decision, which holds JPL researchers to the similar standards as government workers with access to classified information, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the justices were not ruling on whether citizens had a constitutional right to informational privacy.

Oh, well, thank goodness...uh, what?

"We reject the argument that the government, when it requests job-related personal information in an employment background check, has a constitutional burden to demonstrate that its questions are 'necessary,'" Alito wrote.

Well, so much for being limited. Seeing as how the Constitutional Right-to-Privacy only applies to, you know, the government, that doesn't sound so limited at all.

[cross-posted at Firedoglake]


Montag said...

Given that the most egregious disaster in the space exploration program in the last few years was a failure to reconcile metric units with English units in a rover's software code, well, I can see why the gummint presumes the right to inspect JPL employees' credit ratings, personal lives and intimate details of their sexual activity.

It's not like they are civilians, or anything....

StonyPillow said...

Those insidious Saturnalians, they're everywhere.

Anonymous said...

I never saw this sentence before I read Tycho Brahe's Wikipedia entry: " Apparently during dinner the elk had drunk a lot of beer, fallen down the stairs, and died."

snabby said...

Goddammit, Attaturk, how can you post this with no mention of Uranus? I am bitterly disappointed.

pansypoo said...

and they complain about wikileaks.

Anonymous said...

Supreme Court has become the new standard of inconsistent pseudo-intellectual babble.
Thanks for deciphering it for this rube.
Its not what is said that counts anymore, its how forcefully its said.