How the police get your prescription records

America's largest pharmacy chains are handing over customers’ most intimate medical records in the store. And it's completely legal.

How the police get your prescription records
Pharmacy staff members face “extreme pressure to immediately respond.” (Photo by Isaac Owens)

Full story: Pharmacies share medical data with police without a warrant, inquiry finds

My latest piece is on a totally unnerving and completely legal technique of law enforcement data gathering. Cops are walking into pharmacies and leaving with the most sensitive details of your medical history:

In briefings, officials with America’s eight biggest pharmacy giants — Walgreens Boots Alliance, CVS, Walmart, Rite Aid, Kroger, Cigna, Optum Rx and Amazon Pharmacy — told congressional investigators that they required only a subpoena, not a warrant, to share the records.

A subpoena can be issued by a government agency and, unlike a court order or warrant, does not require a judge’s approval. To obtain a warrant, law enforcement must persuade a judge that the information is vital to investigate a crime.

Officials with CVS, Kroger and Rite Aid said they instruct their pharmacy staff members to process law enforcement requests on the spot, saying the staff members face “extreme pressure to immediately respond,” the lawmakers’ letter said.

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