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Doe v. Chao

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The issue in this case is whether the group of seven miners whose rights had been breached automatically qualified for the statutory minimum damage of $1000. The Supreme Court was required to determine whether the lower courts were right in the ruling that the plaintiff had no claim from the government.

The privacy Act of 1974 establishes a set o rules that control the collection, maintenance, use and giving out of personally identifiable information about persons that is recorded by federal agencies. The Privacy Act stipulates that agencies provide a public notice of their records by publication in the Federal Register. The federal Privacy Act stipulates that every person is entitled to recovery in any suit against the federal government for breach of privacy an award of not less than $1000 plus attorney fee incurred in the case. The Act further provides people with a way of finding access to and correction of their records (The United States Department of Justice, 2010). There are however a few exceptions to the dissemination of personal records. Personal records can be used for statistical applications by the census bureau and for routine uses by the U.S government agency. They can also be disseminated for archival purposes, law enforcement purposes, congressional investigations or other administrative objectives. The Bush administration offered anexemption to the Privacy Act for the Department of Homeland Security and the Arrival and Departure system. The Privacy does not apply to non-US citizens (The United States Department of Justice, 2010).

Application/ analysis

A group of seven miners had sued the Department of labor to the U.S Supreme Court for the award of $1000 as statutory compensation for damage caused by releasing their social security numbers without their consent. They claimed that that the department of Labor had breached their right to privacy by releasing their social security numbers without their consent. Before the case, the lower court was unable to determine whether the plaintiffs whose rights were breached automatically qualified for the compensation. The plaintiffs claimed that all they were required to prove for the government to award them the $1000 as the minimum was that the government had breached their privacy rights by releasing their social security numbers.

The plaintiff further maintained that they were not necessarily required to proof that they had suffered actual damage for the compensation to be awarded. The defendant maintained that the miners had to provide evidence that they had actually suffered as a result of release of the information. The district court had ruled in favor of the government a ddecision endorsed by a divided Fourth Circuit Court of appeal’s panel. The Court held that the plaintiffs had to provide adequate evidence to the effect that they had suffered actual damage as a result of release of the information. The U.S Supreme Court had to decide whether the government actually breached the privacy rights of the plaintiffs at by releasing their social security numbers. The court was required to determine that the exceptions to the Privacy Act did not apply to the circumstance under which the government released the social security numbers of the plaintiffs (Robert, 2002).

The plaintiffs would likely prevail in the Supreme Court because the government actually breached their rights by releasing their social security numbers without their consent. The plaintiff would only be required by the court to proof beyond reasonable doubts that the court had breached their rights by releasing the information. The circumstances under which the government released the information are not subject to the exceptions provided by the Privacy Act. This gives the plaintiffs an upper hand and thus the Supreme Court is likely to favor them in the ruling (Marcia, 2003). It is not necessary that the plaintiff proof that they experience actual damage as a result of the release of the information because the damage could occur in future.

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