ACLU of Florida Calls for Warrant Requirement Following Breach of Florida Prescription Database

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
July 8, 2013 12:00 am

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Privacy Recommendations Submitted to Department of Health Rulemaking Workshop After Leak of 3,300 Floridians’ Personal Medical Information From E-FORSCE Database

July 8, 2013

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida presented recommendations for privacy safeguards for the state of Florida’s drug database program at a rulemaking workshop called by the Florida Department of Health (DOH).

The workshop was scheduled following the discovery that approximately 3,300 Floridians’ confidential prescription drug information, stored in a state-wide prescription drug database known as E-FORSCE, ended up in the hands of third parties without the knowledge or consent of the individuals whose prescription drug information was released. The ACLU of Florida, which opposed the creation of the database, has been investigating how the leak occurred and offered recommendations at today’s workshop on how to prevent future breaches of Floridians’ privacy.

Among the recommendations from the ACLU of Florida to the DOH were that law enforcement agencies and officers should be required to obtain a warrant to access E-FORCSE, that DOH can appropriately narrow law enforcement access to the database to prevent fishing expeditions, and that DOH must ensure that query results remain confidential once obtained from E-FORCSE. Although the workshop was scheduled to last four and a half hours, it ended after 22 minutes as ACLU of Florida spokesperson Pamela Burch Fort was the only speaker who appeared to deliver recommendations.

From the ACLU of Florida’s recommendations:

“The ACLU again emphasizes its opposition to the existence and maintenance of the E-FORCSE database, and our position that law enforcement should have access to E-FORCSE only after obtaining a warrant or court order targeting specific individuals or entities for specific crimes, supported by probable cause.

“Notwithstanding our opposition, our suggestions are made to help DOH develop rules within its rulemaking authority that may minimize the risk of disclosure of confidential information of individuals who are lawfully taking properly prescribed prescription medication.”

The full ACLU of Florida testimony and recommendations submitted to the Florida Department of Health is available here.

More information on the ACLU of Florida’s investigation into the database leak is available here.

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