Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Drug Abuse Detection Tool is Itself Abused

Yet another example of criminals one-upping the government in the drug-and-information war.

Some hacker managed to steal the entire database of 8 million patient records and 35 million prescriptions from the Virginia Prescription Monitoring Program. The hacker wants $10 million in ransom money.

What is the Virginia Prescription Monitoring Program, you ask? Why, its a tool that the government uses to catch malicious, heartless prescription drug abusers!

So let's get this straight:

1. Virginia claims a monopoly jurisdiction on medical record and personal information protection policies and regulations for the entire state, financed by taxpayers.

2. Virginia claims jurisdiction over all drug use in its territory, and then uses taxpayer money to create a drug abuse database in order to catch and persecute all the pill-popping, drug-addicted (mostly senior) citizens.

3. Some hacker punk breaks in to said government database and steals all the info and then demands a $10 million dollar ransom.

4. If the government pays the ransom, it will be paid with taxpayer dollars.

5. If the government doesn't pay the ransom, then the records will be sold on the black market, the fallout of which will have to be dealt with via government methods, again funded by taxpayers.

The War on Drugs created this liability, and the very entity that claims the responsibility to protect private data had its database compromised. The taxpayers paid for the War on Drugs, the database, and will surely pay one way or another for the fallout (either in ransom money or in damage control upon the sale of the records on the black market).

And even if they catch the hacker, the taxpayers will still have to pay for the manhunt, trial, and the jailing/housing/feeding of him.

It's obvious to me that the problem here lies not with the hacker, or the abuse by Virginians of prescription drugs. Rather, the problem lies with the War on Drugs and the existence of a government monopoly that tries to protect the privacy of citizens by collecting all their personal data and amassing it into a single gigantic database.

The greater risk to the citizens of Virginia is not the potential for drug abuse, but the very existence of a database containing sensitive information intended to prevent drug abuse.

If there were no government, or at least no War on Drugs, this database wouldn't have existed in the first place.


Bert said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I am researching this topic for a private matter and this is very helpful and informative.

Aaron Kinney said...

You are most welcome, Bert. I'm all in favor of bringing to light the need for effective drug abuse treatment, and the end of both the War on Drugs and the persecution of peaceful people suffering from addiction.