Blythe Golay


In 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court first acknowledged a potential constitutional privacy “interest in avoiding disclosure of personal matters.” Since then, the Court has remained silent on whether there is a right to informational privacy. In the October 2010 term, the Court had another chance to revisit the contours of this potential privacy interest in NASA v. Nelson. But it again refused to define those contours and instead assumed, without deciding, that a constitutional right to informational privacy exists. The Court held that although information that was collected from an employee background-check questionnaire implicated the employees’ putative right to informational privacy, the Privacy Act of 1974 alleviated that privacy concern by providing sufficient protection that prevents the nonconsensual dissemination of information. This Comment argues that, in its reliance on the Privacy Act, the Court improperly ignored the distinction between compelled collection of information and dissemination of information—and how both threaten a right to informational privacy.

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