Whistleblowers beware: this week the Supreme Court dealt a death blow to the Privacy Act. David Colapinto, NWC General Counsel and Privacy Act expert, appeared on NPR to talk about the ruling and it’s devastating effects for whistleblowers. Full story here
Congress originally passed the historic Privacy Act after the Nixon administration illegally broke into Daniel Ellsburg’s psychiatric records. The law was designed to provide a recourse for whistleblowers whose reputations get smeared by the government, but now the Court has decided that these brave workers can only receive out-of-pocket damages. Any mental or emotional distress is written off to the wind, regardless of how willful
In a strong dissent, Justice Sotomayor made it clear that this is, "not the result
Congress intended when it enacted an Act with the express purpose of safeguarding individual privacy against Government invasion."
But it’s clear that the spirit under which this law was enacted is no longer the spirit of government. David Colapinto concluded, "When we look at what is happening with government surveillance of citizens, this is just part of a disturbing trend where our courts and our government are throwing out restrictions on government abuse of power."