Worried About the Government and Your Library Records?
President Bush signed into law a bill to create electronic monitoring programs to prevent the abuse of prescription drugs in all 50 states.
The new law creates a grant program for states to create databases and enhance existing ones in hopes of ending the practice of “doctor shopping” by drug abusers seeking multiple prescriptions. It would authorize $60 million for the program through fiscal 2010.
The bill, signed late Thursday at the president’s Crawford, Texas, ranch, was sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield, a Republican representing Kentucky’s 1st District.
Glenn Greenwald provides more explanation. I have to say I like the title of his article, “Our benevolent surveillance state.” Reminds me of the term “benevolent dictator” that one can find in certain economics papers.
Is there any good reason whatsoever why the federal government should be maintaining “files” which contain information about the pharmaceutical products which all Americans are consuming? The noxious idea has taken root in our country — even before the Bush presidency, though certainly greatly bolstered during it — that one of the functions of the federal government is to track the private lives of American citizens and maintain dossiers on what we do.
The federal government data base which contains all of our controlled substance prescriptions, for instance, was mandated by a law — The National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act — passed in 2005 by the Republican-controlled Congress (though with full bipartisan support) and signed into law by the “conservative” Leader. That law appropriates funds to each state to create and maintain these data bases which are, apparently, accessible to federal agencies, federal law enforcement officials, and almost certainly thousands of other state and federal employees (as well as, most likely, employees of private companies).
Now some might be thinking, “Well, it is a good thing for the government to crack down on people who abuse prescription drugs.” Really? Re-read this post on a man being arrested for buying too much psuedoephedrine for him and his son. And keep in mind that what prompted this story is that the Feds looked at the database to get an idea of what prescription drugs Cho Seung-hui might have been taking. Exactly what does prescription drugs have to do with the shooting? Not much, and almost certainly not in relation to prescription drug abuse.