Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The big drug database in the sky: One firefighter’s year-long legal nightmare | Ars Technica

The big drug database in the sky: One firefighter’s year-long legal nightmare | Ars Technica: "In May 2013, when an investigator called local firefighter paramedic Ryan Pyle down to police headquarters in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, Pyle guessed it had something to do with the morphine. Fire crews had recently discovered that drug vials had been tampered with at several different stations, the morphine removed and replaced with some other liquid. The find prompted a police investigation of all 28 Unified Fire Authority fire stations and the replacement of every narcotic stored in them, according to Jeremy Robertson, president of fire union local #1696. But Pyle hadn’t worked at the specific stations under investigation. What could he add? “Do you know why you’re here?” a police officer asked Pyle when he arrived. “I wish I did, but I don’t,” Pyle said. The officer explained that, during the investigation of the morphine theft, Pyle’s personal prescription drug records had been pulled from Utah’s Controlled Substances Database. Pyle was being accused not of stealing morphine but of prescription drug fraud. The allegation doesn't necessarily involve selling pills; instead, authorities believed that Pyle had visited multiple doctors in order to obtain narcotics. But the detective investigating the case had pulled far more than Pyle’s records; he had actually pulled the prescription records of all 480 employees of the local fire authority, sifting through the sensitive health information of firefighters, paramedics, and clerical staff, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Such prescription information could reveal whether the workers had anxiety disorders, chronic pain, insomnia, or AIDS. It could reveal if an individual identified as transgender or suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder."

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