ACLU: A Federal Court Says Your Prescription Records Aren’t Really Private. The Supreme Court Might Have Something to Say About That. by Brett Max Kaufman, Staff Attorney, ACLU Center for Democracy:
When you fill a prescription at your local drug store, you would surely bristle at someone behind you peeking over your shoulder — but in a decision issued last week, a federal court in Utah said that you have no Fourth Amendment right to object when the peeker is the United States government.
You read that correctly: In a case challenging the Drug Enforcement Administration’s warrantless access to patient prescription records stored in a secure state database, the court relied in part on an outdated legal doctrine to rule that a “patient in Utah decides to trust a prescribing physician with health information to facilitate a diagnosis,” and thereby “takes the risk . . . that his or her information will be conveyed to the government.”
That’s hard to swallow — and it helps make very clear the huge stakes of our upcoming Supreme Court argument in United States v. Carpenter, which concerns the role of the so-called “third-party doctrine” in opening up all kinds of sensitive records to warrantless searches by police.