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Was Gov. Rick Scott right to worry about prescription drug database?

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 by Dara Kam

It took some convincing, but proponents of Florida’s prescription drug database, including Attorney General Pam Bondi, finally persuaded Gov. Rick Scott to sign off on the program that contains Rx information for narcotics and other addictive drugs.

Scott balked because he didn’t trust that the database couldn’t be hacked or that individuals’ prescription drug info could be erroneously made public.

Now, the ACLU of Florida, which has taken Scott to court over a variety of his policies, is saying that’s exactly what’s happened, and that the drug records of 3,300 individuals has landed in the wrong hands.

The ACLU claims that the prescription drug records of 3,300 individuals were given to prosecutors and defense attorneys in six criminal cases in Volusia County.

“Somehow information that is supposed to remain private and confidential and be safely maintained in this unfortunate database made its way into third parties who have no right to it,” said ACLU of Florida attorney Maria Kayanan.

The civil rights organization is seeking more information about how the patients’ prescriptions, birthdates, addresses was made public during the court cases.

The database was created in 2009 but wasn’t up and running until 2011. Lawmakers this year agreed to allow state money to be used to fund the database, pushed by President Obama’s drug czar and others as way to help fight prescription drug abuse by preventing “doctor shopping.”

The ACLU has issued a public records request to the Florida Department of Health and to the Seminole County Sheriff’s office in search of records relating to requests made by local or federal law enforcement agencies to the Electronic Florida On-Line Registry of Controlled Substances Evaluation (E-FORSCE) database.

“It certainly looks like there were multiple breaches at multiple places. Some of them may have been unintentional. We don’t know. But the bottom line is this is so very wrong,” Kayanan said.

Federal judge blocks ‘harsh and impractical’ Florida voter registration restrictions

Thursday, May 31st, 2012 by Dara Kam

A federal judge has issued an injunction barring enforcement of part of Florida’s controversial new election law, ruling that a 48-hour deadline for third party groups to turn in voter registration forms is “harsh and impractical.”

Tallahassee federal Judge Robert Hinkle left intact much of the rest of the law, passed by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott last year. Portions of that law are also being challenged in federal court in Washington.

The new law and associated rule “impose burdensome record-keeping and reporting requirements that serve little if any purpose, thus rendering them unconstitutional” even if they do not violate the National Voting Rights Act, Hinkle wrote in a 27-page ruling issued today.

The League of Women Voters filed the lawsuit against former Secretary of State Kurt Browning last year after the law went into effect. The league said the new law forced them to stop voter registration drives in Florida after more than seven decades because of the onerous time requirements punishable by up to $1,000 in fines. A variety of other groups, including the ACLU of Florida, joined the lawsuit.

In granting the preliminary injunction, Hinkle ruled that “the plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits of their challenge” to some of the provisions of the law and the rules and that voter registration was “working well” before the law was changed last year. Republican lawmakers insisted the new law was designed to discourage fraud.

But Hinkle, wrote, “allowing responsible organizations to conduct voter-registration drives—thus making it easier for citizens to register and vote—promotes democracy.”

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