Police have unlimited warrantless access to Americans' medical records via Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid and other pharmacies

Originally published at: Police have unlimited warrantless access to Americans' medical records via Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid and other pharmacies - Boing Boing


I bet a bunch of dudes are gonna start buying extra large condoms now just to ensure their secret government dossiers say they have giant dongs.


How is this not a blatant HIPAA violation? Or do they just not care?


You beat me to it; seems like it really should be.


From the article…

HIPAA and transparency

The lawmakers note that the pharmacies aren’t violating regulations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The pharmacies pointed to language in HIPAA regulations that allow health care providers, including pharmacists, to provide medical records if required by law, with subpoenas being a sufficient legal process for such a request. However, the lawmakers note that the HHS has discretion in determining the legal standard here—that is, it has the power to strengthen the regulation to require a warrant, which the lawmakers say it should do.


What puzzles me a little bit about this is what, exactly, would make them so interested.

It was my (admittedly layman’s) understanding that Prescription Monitoring Programs with reporting requirements were already very commonly if not universally a thing for scheduled drugs; while the criminal relevance of unscheduled prescription drugs seems pretty niche.

Are they hassling pharmacists directly because the PMP databases have pesky procedural controls that they don’t feel like complying with? Do more cases than I imagine hinge on drugs without habit formation or recreational value?

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they want a comprehensive list of subversive types, most likely… is someone in your community taking PREP or medication for HIV or other STDs? Or getting birth control or some kind? They want to have a database of possible subversives that they can go after when the “right times” comes… It’s an authoritarian mindset to monitor what the population does and ensure that those who aren’t “normal” are kept in check (at best).


The HIPAA Privacy Rule contains an exception for law enforcement purposes that permits a covered entity to disclose PHI to law enforcement officials without patient authorization under the following circumstances:

If there is a court order, court-ordered warrant, subpoena or administrative request
To identify or locate a suspect, fugitive, material witness or missing person

To answer a law enforcement official’s request for information about a victim or suspected victim of a crime

To alert law enforcement of a person’s death if the organization suspects that criminal activity caused the death

When an organization believes that PHI is evidence of a crime that occurred on its premises

In a medical emergency not occurring on its premises, when it’s necessary to inform law enforcement about the commission and nature of a crime, the location of the crime or crime victims and the perpetrator of the crime -Somerandominsurancecompany

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My guess would be Medicare and insurance fraud.


Mifepristone in forced-birth states.

ETA: some docs prescribe prenatal vitamins even if they are available OTC; but that puts it in the patient’s record.


If there’s an open backdoor for police, then it’s open for hackers too.


This awful breach in private information, plus (i dunno) some nightmare ‘A.I.’ compositing other info*, and a state government seeking to become Gilead takes a large vile step in that direction. -sigh-

(*wouldn’t put sensors in the sewer beyond Abbott)


If someone isn’t at their registered address, you can wait at the pharmacy for them to pick up their meds?


Honestly, my first thought was trans folk getting their hormones. It wouldn’t be a huge stretch to match assigned-at-birth gender with prescriptions for hormone replacement. And that is a terrifying thing.


I knew I was forgetting something… that too…


In states that have passed bans on gender affirming health care for minors, that’s certainly a possibility. Most of these medicines have perfectly acceptable, non-transition related uses, so it would be impossible to ban the medicines themselves, and prescriptions could be “hidden” under some other diagnosis. But if law enforcement suspected gender transition was the real use, a look at all the patient’s prescriptions could definitely make that clear. Pretty scary stuff.

The lawmakers could also fix this loophole by not leaving it up to the discretion of HHS.


And that means even more fuckery with women’s reproductive rights, because menopausal women often get hormone therapy.

Everything about this is fucking awful.



Extra-large condoms also make superb water balloons. Massive fill-sizes before the inevitable and can be robustly handled without bursting. Government agents could include another possibility re the users’ intents: Geeks with time on their hands.

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