Even good people with healthy political philosophies fall into the “we have to do something” trap. So, when an opiate “epidemic” emerges, even people who would normally shy from creating government databases relent and allow the centralized, mandatory collection of prescription information because… “we have to do something.”
Well, this was inevitable:
The amended bill (S-656 Sub A) would remove the requirement that all law enforcement officials obtain a search warrant to access the database.The database contains information about highly addictive prescription opioids such as Vicodin and OxyContin, along with stimulants such as Adderall and sedatives, such as Xanax, and cough suppressants with codeine. The database allows health officials to track prescribing patterns as a way to identify possible over-prescribing and abuse.
The bill has passed the Senate on its way into law. If it comes up short this year, it’ll be back next year… and the next. Eventually, the advocates will find some story, some crime that could have been prevented if only law enforcement had been able to dip into the data without a search warrant, and that will push it over the top. “We have to do something.” (Or maybe the Speaker of the House will need a vote to pass something else, and that’ll be the lever.)
This pattern is becoming clear enough that there’s no excuse not to predict it. Let’s get back to a healthy skepticism that stops government from getting on these paths in the first place.