Assaults on your privacy have been chronic, consistent and routine. The would-be “controllers” want to know everything about anything everyone does. Historic, traditional or statutory privacy protections are but minor obstacles for Big Brother to mitigate, amend, and abrogate.
We will be told what we will be required to give up is “for the children,” “in the interest of public safety” or to attack criminals. After all, “what do you have to hide?” If you haven’t done anything wrong or illegal, then you don’t have anything to worry about — except for abuse of power under the color of authority, and who gets to decide what is “wrong” or “illegal.” Remember Ben Franklin’s warning that those who give up freedom for a little security deserve neither.
Over the years I have ranted and written about assaults on your privacy: Echelon, Carnivore, Know Your Customer, national ID cards, subdermal biochip implants, etc. WorldNetDaily, the Libertarian Party and DefendYourPrivacy.com were in the vanguard of killing the FDIC’s noxious “Know Your Customer” regulation. However, those who seek omniscient control are not going to fold their tents and go away after merely losing a battle. This is a war for God-given inalienable rights, and the results of one battle do not lead to armistice.
There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies as against despots. What is it? Distrust. (Demosthenes).
Inevitably some relatively benign rule, regulation, or law is announced that “sounds” reasonable, appropriate and beneficial. However the devil is in the details. Perception is seldom reality and the substance invariably overshadows the form.
No later than April 14, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson will be faced with the decision whether or not to implement the “medical privacy” rules submitted in the waning days of the Clinton regime. The rules, published in the Federal Register on Dec. 28, require that every doctor and health-care provider turn patient records over to the HHS and other federal agencies for “safekeeping” — regardless of whether patients consent. “Safekeeping”? What, like the FBI files were turned over to the Clinton White House for “safekeeping” only to hang like the sword of Damocles over the head of any and all would be critics or supporters of Lady Macbeth’s cabal?
The devil is in the details. The fact that the government could and would then share those records with third parties such as insurance companies, private marketers, and even police agencies should offend and frighten every American and specifically those who have sworn an oath to “preserve and protect.”
If these insidious Big Brother regulations were to stand the result could and would be catastrophic. Consider the prospect of millions of government bureaucrats, clerks in insurance companies, HMOs and even drug-marketing companies gaining access to your confidential medical records without your permission or knowledge.
Am I overreacting to Big Brother’s camel’s nose? I don’t think so!
John Philpot Curran in his “Speech upon the Right of Election,” 1790, said, “It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.”
Under the provisions of this impending regulation it would:
- Allow the disclosure, without patient consent, of all medical records for “public health surveillance activities” and dozens of other purposes. Providers could refuse to treat people who refuse to surrender their records.
- Allow private insurance companies to access the medical information and compile it into a database.
- Permit police agencies to access medical records without a search warrant.
- Give the government the right to access the private notes of a psychotherapist.
- Allow foreign government officials to see Americans’ health records; as long as the U.S. government claims it is doing it for a “national health purpose.”
- Assign every American a “unique patient identifier,” whether you want one or not, by working in conjunction with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The number would be similar to a Social Security number for medical transactions — and would make accessing an individual’s medical records as easy as running a credit check.
- Give direct marketers access to medical records and allow pharmacies to share prescription records “for the purpose of marketing health-related products and services” — all without patient consent.
- Prevent patients involved in health research projects from accessing their own medical records.
Remember the government claims it is doing this to “protect” the privacy of your medical records. However, disseminating private data to third parties without your knowledge or authorization is anything but privacy protection.
The litany of potential if not inevitable abuses is legion. Confidential data about a “genetic predisposition” to serious (and costly) illness could be used by a prospective employer to deny you a job in order to reduce the employer’s potential future liability.
Thomas Jefferson wrote to Archibald Stuart in 1791.”I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”
Say an acquaintance of yours who just happened to work for an insurance company or government agency could read the private notes of your psychotherapist, or find out if you or a family member have ever undergone drug or alcohol treatment?
“Private” personal information wouldn’t be private. Would you want others to know whether you’ve ever had an abortion or been treated for an embarrassing disease?
Any or all of those type things could become reality if the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulations were to go into effect.
Notwithstanding America having been desensitized to the abuse of power we have suffered during the Clinton regime, the government has no reason to add copies of our private medical records to their stash of records, and politicians and bureaucrats have no right to distribute your medical records to others without your permission.
Don’t give them that permission by your silence. What can you do? It’s easy. Go to DefendYourPrivacy.com and sign the petition. It will be submitted directly to your representative in the U.S. House and to both your U.S. senators.
Allow me to recommend that we support the adoption of H. J. RES. 38, which would prevent these regulations from going into effect.
The prolific Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush observed, “It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.”