Tuesday, January 29, 2013

DEA wants to illegally snoop in private medical records

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Government surveillance (U.S. flag with eye)

Never content with its current laundry list of privacy violations in its zeal to prevent the next great (imaginary) drug craze, the DEA is now trying to get permission to snoop around in private patient medical records without a warrant. Cue the ACLU:

The Drug Enforcement Administration is trying to access private prescription records of patients in Oregon without a warrant, despite a state law forbidding it from doing so. The ACLU and its Oregon affiliate are challenging this practice in a new case that raises the question of whether the Fourth Amendment allows federal law enforcement agents to obtain confidential prescription records without a judge’s prior approval. It should not.


In 2009, the Oregon legislature created the Oregon Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), which tracks prescriptions for certain drugs dispensed by Oregon pharmacies […]. The program was intended to help physicians prevent drug overdoses by their patients and more easily recognize signs of drug abuse. Because the medical information revealed by these prescription records is highly sensitive, the legislature created robust privacy and security protections for the PDMP, including a requirement that law enforcement must obtain a warrant before requesting records for use in an investigation. But despite those protections, the DEA has been requesting prescription records from the PDMP using administrative subpoenas which, unlike warrants, do not involve demonstrating probable cause to a neutral judge.

Probable cause? Constitutionally-mandated due process? Never heard of it.

(via @radleybalko)