The New York Times reports that government contractors say that for approximately a year, the Education Department has made them go through a security screening usually reserved for those dealing with very sensitive information. Katherine McLane, an Education Department spokeswoman, says that such level of security is warranted, as her agency ahas access to vast databases containing financial data as well as personal information such as social security numbers. However, this policy is prompting some critics to wonder when a background investigation morphs into an invasion of privacy. About 100 researchers have filed a letter of protest with Education Secretary Margaret Spellings calling the background checks “far beyond bounds of reason, necessity, and decency.” …

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/11/washington/11privacy.html