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NYSE to be more watchful

New York, May 22 (Reuters): In a move to boost security, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) wants to fingerprint employees and almost everyone with whom it does business — even reporters — and then give the prints to the FBI for checks.

The Big Board last week asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to approve changes that would put security inquiries into the hands of Federal law enforcement officials.

The Big Board would submit to the Federal Bureau of Investigation the fingerprints of employees, contractors, service providers and even the scores of reporters who cover the stock market from the exchange.

The exchange’s staff currently conducts background checks relying largely on information supplied by the people undergoing the checks. Constitutional experts said the exchange was within its rights to seek to make the proposed changes.

“There is no Federal constitutional issue about a right to privacy because you cannot have your right of privacy violated by anyone but the government,” said Jesse Choper, a constitutional law professor at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California.

“If I were trying to challenge this, I would try to find something in the (New York) state constitution or statutes that gives you this (privacy) right,” Choper added.

Catherine Fisk, professor of employment law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said, “I don’t know whether there’s any provision of New York law relating to this, but in most jurisdictions it would be permissible.”

Citing post-Sept 11 security concerns, the NYSE said in its SEC filing that it needs a more comprehensive reckoning of those with access to the inner workings of one of capitalism’s high temples.

Ray Pellecchia, NYSE spokesman, said a recent change in New York State rules cleared the way for the exchange’s proposals. The change allowed self-regulated entities, like the NYSE, to fingerprint people for security reasons.

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