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NASA Privacy Security Science

US Supreme Court Says NASA Background Checks OK 172

coondoggie writes "In a long-running dispute about privacy and security, the US Supreme Court today sided with NASA saying its background checks were not invasive and that the information required for not only NASA but most government positions was a reasonable security precaution and that sufficient privacy safeguards existed to prevent any improper disclosures. You may recall that in this case, 28 scientists and engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory filed suit against the US government and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 2007 saying that NASA's invasive background investigations as required by government regulations [inappropriately violate workers' privacy]."
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US Supreme Court Says NASA Background Checks OK

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  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @05:30PM (#34932758)

    Their job isn't to hire good engineers, it's to hire good AMERICANS!

    Wasn't our early space program staffed with Nazis?

  • by pilgrim23 ( 716938 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @05:46PM (#34932980)
    Speaking as someone who has been interviewed many times by the FBI re High School friends who were seeking a "Q" clearance, I can say the questions they asked about my friends were not intrusive and related directly to the character, honesty, and truthfulness of the candidate. I realize all of these are now outmoded and tired cliche instead of esteemed and admired character traits but that is the evolution of culture right there.
  • Werner Von Braun (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @05:51PM (#34933062)

    See subject line, & this: []


    P.S.=> His background, Nazi Scientist, didn't stop him from being utilized in the name of United States Progress in Sciences & Military applications... why? Because he was a pre-eminent scientist in the field of rocketry so, especially at that time, pretty much everyone wanted what he was good at so, there you are! apk

  • That's Too Bad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @05:54PM (#34933084) Homepage Journal
    A significant portion of the space concentration aerospace engineers that I graduated with from Cal Poly specifically avoided the defense megacorps when hunting for jobs (Lockheed, Boeing, Northrup) precisely because they did not want to work for an organization that had that kind of access into their personal lives. Many of those folk saw JPL as one of the 'civil' workplaces where they could find a job without having to deal with all of the security clearance BS. After this ruling, I am pretty sure that even more talented upcoming engineers will specifically avoid working for JPL (opting, instead, for places like Loral and SpaceX).

    I would wager that this ruling had to due with ITAR technology though. ITAR agreements tend to apply to just about any space technology in the U.S. (which, incidentally, is hampering progress to a degree). So exposure to many advanced technologies must be heavily regulated and monitored. Hell, I plan to take a tour of JPL Tuesday, and I will be required to show proof of citizenship just to enter the facility; a facility that is entirely and completely funded by our tax dollars.
  • by shatfield ( 199969 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @06:03PM (#34933206)

    A friend of mine used to be a contractor to NASA and he used to tell me stories about how you could get into trouble if you queried the wrong column in a database table. His background check was so extensive that it went on for 3 months, while he just sat around and brought home paychecks for doing absolutely NOTHING.

    He also said that if you pushed the wrong number on the elevator and got off on the wrong floor, you would be interrogated and possibly fired. If you did it more than once, you would definitely be fired.

    Those gubment folks are pretty strict.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @11:21PM (#34935816)

    You missed the part where the issue being decided was whether or not employees termed low risk (i.e., have no access to mission systems) had to submit to an open-ended investigation. My wife doesn't even have access to the computer room with her machine, much less any flight stuff, and she had to "volunteer" to be investigated more thoroughly than for a DoD secret (trust me, I know). It's the ability of the government to simultaneously call someone low risk and demand an intrusive background check that's so... impressive.

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