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Data-Mining Ban Struck Down By US Supreme Court

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the about-your-nasty-std dept.

Businesses 176

smitty777 writes "The Supreme Court struck down in Sorrell vs IMS Health a Vermont law banning data mining which has been in place since 2007. The court ruled that the data on medications prescribed by doctors is protected by the First Amendment and can be used for marketing by the pharmaceutical companies. This follows similar declarations in Maine and New Hampshire."

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RUN FOR THE HILLS !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553818)

I am outta space and outta here !!

I love New York (-1, Offtopic)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553850)

Here is a true story.... the horror... the horror...

Many years ago, when I was back in high school, a friend of mine and I were on our way to the Bronx from the East Village. We got on the 6 Train at Astor Place and we were planning on taking it two stops to 23rd street where we could catch the express bus to the Bronx. Yes we were being lazy.

Upon entering the subway car we noticed that at the foot of the doors directly across us was a giant pile of shit. It didn't stink, but was there. I have no idea how the shit got there, but it was there and it really didn't look like dog crap. I am pretty sure that it was bum shit.

Being that my buddy and I are good New Yorkers and are used to such things on our public transportation system, we just ignored it as it didn't smell. The rest of the people in the car ignored it as well. With our backs against the door, our train lurched forward to 14th street.

At 14th street our train pulled in and the opposite doors to the ones we were standing at opened to the station. The subway sat there a bit too long as they tend to do. we waited as we were to get off at the stop after 14th street, when we noticed this young, clean cut kid running to catch the train. He was frantically waving to someone as he was trying to make it and not looking where he was going. He just made the train as the doors were closing

As soon as the doors closed he jumped in the subway car, his foot went right in the shit, and he slipped, falling directly into the giant pile of human excrement!

The train was barreling uptown to 23rd street and all eyes were on the kid sitting with his back against the subway door and in a pile of crap. There was a terrifying hush. The kid, stunned, wiped his face. Scooping a handful of brown mess from his face, he realized that he had shit smeared from his head, all the way down to his ass. With this crystal clear realization he began to violently throw up on himself.

As soon as this horror began it ended. Our train pulled into the 23rd street station, the doors opened, my friend and I calmly stepped backwards and everyone else in the car very quietly, but swiftly got out.

The last thing I saw was some poor schmuck smeared with from head to toe, and sitting in bum shit, violently puking on himself as the doors close and the train speeding away.

I was stunned as was everybody else. Then my buddy said "Imagine what they are going to think at 28th street".

I love New York.
Mr. Brooks

Re:I love New York (0)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553926)

What year was this?

Re:I love New York (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554122)

I always said New Yorkers thought their shit didn't stink.

Big Corporation (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553858)

Big corporations always win in the end. They have the money to pay the lawyers and the lobbyists. It's their world; we just live in it. This has basically become a country by the corporations for the corporations. One nation, under CEO, with corruption and insider trading for all.

Re:Big Corporation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553914)

Alternatively: Information wants to be free.

Re:Big Corporation (3, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554404)

This isn't a new phenomenon. In the Middle Ages, Barons and Earls constantly vied with kings for supremacy over the nation. In the early modern era, merchants literally seized control of certain states, and corporations like the East India Company rules territories as vast as India.

The price of freedom might be eternal vigilance, but the price of control is simply a lot of money.

Re:Big Corporation (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554630)

The Boston Tea Party was a protest against the East India Company as much as it was against British Rule and taxes.

That's something they don't like to teach at school any more...

Re:Big Corporation (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556046)

The price of freedom might be eternal vigilance, but the price of control is simply a lot of money.

Sig-snarf'd! Nice.

Re:Big Corporation (1, Insightful)

bughunter (10093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555538)

Big corporations always win in the end. It's their world; we just live in it.

Yes, and this nation was founded on the ideal that the people (not businesses co-opting the rights of individuals) should rule, and that the three tyrannies of big warlords, big religion, and big business can be prevented.

I infer from your comment that you're simply content to see a return to the homo sapiens status quo: it took barely a 100 years for that experiment to fail. Well, many of us aren't content. In fact, more than a few of us are downright pissed.

We almost turned it around after the Great Depression, but the great war against Fascism transferred too much power back to the warlords and businesses. (Religion never really went away, though it seems more a less a tool for the other two these days.)

Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (4, Interesting)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#36553934)

We can expect more and more of this because he replaced two fairly liberal judges with very conservative ones.

Not that liberal judges are a panacea - they all voted in favor of eminent domain in Kelo v. New London - but they tend to not believe in corporate power so much.

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554096)

You didn't notice it was a 6-3 decision did you?

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (4, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554152)

I'm mostly a conservative, and I don't recognize these rulings as conservative. These are corporatist, which I mostly view as a form of treason.

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554274)

Which means you're dumb or delusional. Or both.

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554358)

or accurate.

the issue is not conservative or liberal, it is indeed a concern that this pro-corporate viewpoint has gotten out of hand.

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554452)

And the pro-corporate viewpoint is mainly a Republican party viewpoint. Republicans are also generally have a conservative viewpoint.

Sorry, liberals don't go pro-corporate unless they've been bought out. That happens sometimes. But it's a prevalent feeling among conservative republicans.

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554672)

This is wrong... both parties are bought out by corporations... it's just they are slightly different groups of corporations. Also the Republicans are more open (and often proud) about it.

Almost everything in the corporate media is focuses on the liberal vs. conservative sideshow... they have an interest in the country turning into a corporate state.

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (1)

SpryGuy (206254) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556022)

Well no. The entire GOP is wholely owned by corporate interests at this point. The buying of Democrats is a case-by-case basis (Banks own Dodd for example). It's a significant difference. The two parties are not (yet) equivalent.

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (1)

rdbiker (2278618) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554554)

Huh? Nowadays: corporatist = conservative ...been that way for a while

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554698)

The liberals love to promote laws written by the RIAA and Hollywood. How is that not corporatist?

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (1)

SpryGuy (206254) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556320)

No "liberal" I'm aware of does. At least none I know personally. I'm constantly amazed at all these things that conservatives say "liberals" support. Not all moms trying to "protect the children!" via RIAA and such are liberal. I wouldn't even say a majority were.

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554632)

No it isn't and the ruling does not specify that only corporations get to use these data, it only overturns a ban on their doing so. As such it supports liberty in general rather than your particular preversion of it.

You obviously believe that your not wanting to see a particular message is reason enough to curtail liberty.

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (2)

kj_kabaje (1241696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556240)

How is giving away private medical information about prescriptions a 1st Ammendment issue or a curtailment of liberty?  Perhaps if this was made available freely to the public as well so I could in effect "audit" my doctor to see if he's been bribed into a particular brand, I could see this benefited the general public, rather than being just a tool for Pharma.

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555542)

I'm mostly a conservative, and I don't recognize these rulings as conservative. These are corporatist

What's the difference?

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555728)

What I mean by political conservatism is a preference for limited scope of the federal government, an general aversion to a welfare state, and a preference for limited taxation. Also, it's underpinnings are a general distrust in the competence of central planning, and an assumption that power corrupts.

None of that entails pretending that corporations are persons, which I think is the root of this current nonsense.

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36555942)

Um, in what way is "corporatist" not a philosophy of "limited scope of the federal government?" Doesn't limiting the scope of the federal government mean limiting its ability to regulate industry? And explain to us how you would have a free market without giving corporations (which are, by common law, legal "persons" in the sense that they are legal entities which are distinct from the individuals who run them, profit from them, or buy or sell to them) most of the same rights (free expression, free association, free ).

You're not a conservative and you're not a libertarian - you just don't like paying taxes. You probably download most of your music from P2P, use free software (regardless of whether or not it's Free Software), and don't want bandwidth caps - hell, you probably favor having free wireless in every city paid for by advertising, which you can then use AdBlock to avoid. That's not conservative or libertarian, that's just like 95% of the so-called libertarians on the Internet - a selfish cheapskate who has elevated his selfishness to an ideology.

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (2)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556250)

Um, in what way is "corporatist" not a philosophy of "limited scope of the federal government?" Doesn't limiting the scope of the federal government mean limiting its ability to regulate industry?

Not to mention limiting its ability to bless interstate corporations, which are a legal entity. Otherwise, corporations would have to do so separately in every state where they operate.

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (3, Informative)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556480)

Um, in what way is "corporatist" not a philosophy of "limited scope of the federal government?"

Corporations are creations of government by definition. They don't exist without government protection.

Here's a limited government position: governments should not be in the business of creating and protecting corporations. See, that was easy, wasn't it?

Strange definition of conservative (3, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554224)

In the US today, "Liberal" and "Conservative" seem to have reversed meaning. You would expect a Conservative to say "this (data mining) didn't exist when the Constitution was written, and therefore should come under States Rights. And, anyway, we should be very wary of allowing any part of the community to bring about social changes that may affect the majority in ways we can't yet predict". And you would expect a Liberal - i.e. a free-market, laissez-faire capitalist - to say "if they want to do it let them, and then if it goes wrong someone can sue."

But in fact "Conservative" now seems to be used to mean "someone who sells the intent of the Constitution to the highest bidder", and "Liberal" means someone who wants the Government not to interfere so much in people's private lives and their privacy - which I imagine the Founding Fathers would be in favor of.

In the late 80s it was the Democrats - Lloyd Bentsen in particular - that were in bed with Big Oil. Now it's the Republicans. Why the switch?

Re:Strange definition of conservative (2)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554466)

Lloyd Bentsen was a Texan. It's sort of complicated, but in the late 80s/early 90s the Republican leadership in the House prevailed on conservative Democrats in Texas and the rest of the south -- people who were very conservative but were Democrats for historical reasons -- to switch to the Republican party and/or to withhold their votes for the Democratic Speaker when organizing the House. This effort gave the House to the Republicans in 1994, and the decades-long Democratic control of the House has been intermittent ever since. The realignment has made House vote much more ideological.

Republicanism and Coservativism isn't inherently pro-oil, but the Republican party is where all the southern, oil producing state representation is, and the party ideology is whatever the powerful voting blocks in the party say it is.

Re:Strange definition of conservative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554470)

This reversal is not that recent... see Strom Thurmond.

Re:Strange definition of conservative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554634)

Not sure I would agree with the term "in bed with", but anyway, up to the mid 80's the south was solidly controlled by Democrats. The south is also where you find local economies and jobs being driven by the oil industry. So, now that the Republicans solidly control the south, they are speaking up for the companies that provide jobs in their districts.

Take a look at statements [abcnews.com] recently [cbsnews.com] made by Democrat Senator from Louisiana Mary Landrieu in regards to the ban on drilling in the gulf. Not saying all southern Democrats are for drilling, but you will certainly find more in the south than anywhere else.

It is a "jobs for my constituents" thing, not a "in bed with" thing.

Full disclosure, I'm from Houston, TX and have (in the past) worked in the oil industry.'

As for the flip flopping of labels over the last "many" years, I agree that they have flipped but not with your description of their current definitions. I would summarize it as:
Conservatives today believe in limited government and states rights, at the base of the movement, not all "Republicans" are conservative, of course.
Liberals, or Progressives, believe in a strong federal government to such a point that leaders such as Nancy Pelosi make statements that Food Stamps have more "bang for the buck" than creating actual jobs.

You can probably tell by my summary where I stand :)

Re:Strange definition of conservative (1)

SpryGuy (206254) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556516)

Conservatives today believe in limited government and states rights, at the base of the movement, not all "Republicans" are conservative, of course.

I'd say none of the elected Republicans or the GOP fit that description. They may pay lip-service to "limited government", but they don't believe it and certainly don't act on it. Never in the last 30 years has any Republican actually implemented more limited government, or anything even approaching fiscal responsibility. Quite the opposite. They say one thing (to get vote) and do another entirely. I would agree that most also stoke the fires of Confederacy, but we already fought a war over that, the Confederacy lost, and our modern Constitution is definitely and clearly a Federalist document.

And Pelosi didn't say that, for the record. And Food Stamps and Unemployment benefits do have significant stimulative effects on the economy, while tax cuts for the wealthy decidedly do not. Tax cuts don't create jobs. Demand does.

The Republican Party has really nothing to do with conservatism any more (they don't believe in "conserving" pretty much anything). They're radical right-wing extremists, and a welcoming home to racists, sexists, homophobes, and xenophobes, manipulating people via fear-mongering in order to increase their own wealth and power, putting party over country at every turn, and their own greed (refering to the people in the Party structure, not the common voters) above all.

Meanwhile, Democrats have allowed themselves to be so bullied and to become so spineless that they won't even stand up for basic facts, even when they're on their side.

The whole situation is pathetic, which is why Congress has the lowest approval ratings ever right now.

But looking at historical data, anyone who wants less intrusive government and more fiscal responsibility is a fool to vote Republican. Not that Democrats are ideal (far from it), but their actual track record is significantly better on both those issues.

Full disclosure: I live in Texas (Perry is an idiot), grew up in Ohio (what Kasich is doing there is criminal) and have lots of relatives in Wisconsin (Walker is even worse than Kasich).

Re:Strange definition of conservative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36555270)

"Liberal" means someone who wants the Government not to interfere so much"
You're kidding, right? My gosh, liberals have expanded the scope of government since FDR's time. Actually, you can go back to Wilson's (and Mrs. Wilson, btw) administration.

Re:Strange definition of conservative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36555496)

Marketing. The Republicans started marketing that they're in favor of big companies who create jobs for REAL Americans and the evil Libs want to durk er jrrbs by hurting the poor, defenseless corporations. And for some reason, the sheep bought it, so they've stuck with what works.

But as you said, it's not limited to Conservatives, it's limited to those who like their pockets to be full, like to have "favors," and those who like big campaign contributions. So basically....everyone.

It's kinda sad that Bullworth was so very, very right.

Re:Strange definition of conservative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36555708)

Actually its both.

Re:Strange definition of conservative (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556354)

and "Liberal" means someone who wants the Government not to interfere so much in people's private lives and their privacy - which I imagine the Founding Fathers would be in favor of.

Not really, since I doubt there's anyone in the government who falls under that description, but that word sure gets thrown around a lot anyway...

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (1)

lashwhip76 (1850478) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554262)

The two "fairly liberal" justices Bush replaced were the ultraconservative Chief Justice Rehnquist and the fairly conservative O'Connor. Since this was a 6-3 ruling with Obama appointee Sotomayor in the majority, I'm not too sure either of them would have voted differently if they were still there, and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have made a difference if they did.

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554398)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelo_v._City_of_New_London

"On June 23, 2006, the first anniversary of the original decision, President George W. Bush issued an executive order instructing the federal government to restrict the use of eminent domain '...for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.'"

Sounds like Bush didn't entirely agree with it.

Re:Long-term damage from the Bush Admin (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554734)

I see most of them a just being 2 sides of the same coin. The "conservatives" tend to favor the corporations more and the government when it comes things that relate to the military industrial complex, where as the "liberals" tend to favor the government more and the corporations if they are the right type. In both cases neither one favors the individual. I hated the Kelo v. New London case as well as the Citizens United case. I feel Kelo v. New London was just decided wrongly, where as I feel that Citizens United was decided too broadly. Then again am I not a legal scholar nor do I pretend to play on on ./.

Don't you mean "bought & paid for" judges inst (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36555218)

See subject. Everything's done for big money, not regular people. Makes me ill and I am far from the only one.

court made the right decision (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553964)

the state should not suppress free speech without a good reason. moreover, it is almost always bad policy to regulate the use of information rather than regulate a specific bad action that we want to stop. if the state wanted to prevent pharmaceutical companies from advertising to doctors, it should have tried its luck pass a law to prevent that. http://www.innovationpolicy.org/do-not-track-for-doctors-vs-do-not-track-for

Re:court made the right decision (3, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554046)

the state should not suppress free speech without a good reason. moreover, it is almost always bad policy to regulate the use of information rather than regulate a specific bad action that we want to stop. if the state wanted to prevent pharmaceutical companies from advertising to doctors, it should have tried its luck pass a law to prevent that. http://www.innovationpolicy.org/do-not-track-for-doctors-vs-do-not-track-for [innovationpolicy.org]

Really? How the fuck is taking my personal and private health care information and selling it, in any way, "protected speech"?

Re:court made the right decision (3, Informative)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554372)

It isn't your personal and private health care information, the patient stuff is lost in the aggregation, all they want is the prescribing doctor data.

They don't care about your health information, they want to know things like:

* Dr Phil is prescribing competing Product X 5 times as often as he prescribes our Product Y.
* Dr Bill is very well respected by other physicians and prescribes our Product Z a lot.

Sure, you mightn't like what they do marketing wise with that, but it has exactly nothing to do with your personal and private health care information.

Re:court made the right decision (1)

Rayonic (462789) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554646)

Really? How the fuck is taking my personal and private health care information and selling it, in any way, "protected speech"?

When your personal information is stripped out of it per existing federal law. RTFA, this is about doctors not patients.

Re:court made the right decision (2)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555882)

> this is about doctors not patients.

Are you sure?

the Supreme Court ... ruled that "the creation and dissemination of information are speech for First Amendment purposes."

If that's all they've got to say about it, then what limits this to doctors and pharmacies? If this is allowed in the medical industry, what industry would it not effect?

Regardless, GP is right. This is not public information, it's private.

And SCOTUS is delusional. The pharmacies didn't create the content, they aggregated and sold it against the wishes of doctors who did create it and expected the information to stay private, and the State of Vermont which explicitly forbade this practice.

This has absolutely nothing to do with expressing ideas. It's just about selling raw data they were given in confidence.

I can't give you sources, but anecdotally I can tell you that there are kickbacks between pharmacies, doctors, and pharmaceuticals. Selling the pharmaceuticals data on whether a doctor is prescribing their drugs will have a further corrupting effect, not unlike what could come from selling data on who a voter voted for in an election.

Of course (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36553970)

Where individuals and corporations collide, in the US the corporations win.

Supreme Court Decision Disasters keep mounting... (3, Insightful)

SpryGuy (206254) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554036)

This after Citizens United and several other recent decisions...

Man, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito are three of the worst things to happen to the Supreme Court in recent memory. Ugh.

Re:Supreme Court Decision Disasters keep mounting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554094)

Not that a liberal court would have been better.

At least this one got us a victory in Heller.

Freedom of Speech (0, Troll)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554878)

They are supporting freedom of speech even when liberals don't like it.

The Constitution says Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. There are no qualifications on "speech." Not "only speech by individuals not collection of individuals like corporations."

That was the basis of Citizens United and it was decided correctly. If you actually look at the text of the 1st Amendment, not if you are on some anti-corporate bent.

Re:Freedom of Speech (1)

Caraig (186934) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555034)

It was only decided correctly if you consider a corporation to be a person.

Weather corporations are persons or should be persons is, to be fair, worth a debate of its own. Even speaking as a progressive, it'd be a good debate to have.

Re:Freedom of Speech (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555108)

The first amendment doesn't reference anything about personhood. It references "speech". So the question is whether speech is limited or not (it definitely was), not who is speaking (a collection of individuals or individuals).

Re:Freedom of Speech (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555104)

1) There ought to be a difference between speech by individuals and corporations as corporations are a "legal fiction" and not real persons. When you elevate corporations to "people" you essentially give them MORE rights than real people because they can be such a potent concentration of power. The writers of the constitution actually knew this... it was never their intent for companies to have more power than individuals. They were very wary of corporations because of their dealings with the East India Company.

2) Freedom of Speech is more about freedom to speak opinion, not freedom to know someone's personal facts. It appears people bent over backwards to try to make medical facts fit into that hole.

Re:Freedom of Speech (2)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555740)

If you think there should be a difference pass a Constitutional amendment. Again, the 1st amendment just mentions "speech" without any qualification as to whom is speaking.

Corporations, while a legal entity, are still collections of people. I fail to see how a collection of people should lack the free speech rights of a singular person.

Re:Freedom of Speech (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555604)

Free speech liberals don't like is free speech. Free speech conservatives don't like is "obscenity". Funny how that works out.

I'd happily support an absolutist position on free speech, if the courts were consistant about it. But they are completely hypocritical. "God hates fags" == protected speech. "Bong hits for Jesus" == unprotected.

It's like they're not even trying to hide their bias anymore.

Re:Freedom of Speech (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555778)

It's not like anyone on the Court likes Westboro Baptist, so that example doesn't really show a bias.

Re:Freedom of Speech (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556044)

Evidently they like Westboro more than they like pot smokers.

Re:Freedom of Speech (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556498)

You are looking for all decisions to be based on some underlying bias for or against a certain group. That's prevalent way of looking things. That's why people interpret decisions about being for or against corporations as opposed to following their stated legal reasoning.

I would look at the legal reasoning and take it at face value. Westboro Baptist cases are usually straight up protests which have less qualifications in terms of free speech rights than a student being in a public school and wearing a shirt.

Re:Supreme Court Decision Disasters keep mounting. (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555100)

This can be positive, though. If we think in terms of government, it helps push for more open government and governmental data as a freedom of speech issue, even in cases where certain things are "copyrighted" by governments, such as NYC subway maps.

Ever heard of HIPA? (1)

AarghVark (772183) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554160)

Makes me wonder if these judges have heard of things such as maybe HIPA? Whatever happened to that whole privacy of medical records idea?

Re:Ever heard of HIPA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554252)

I have not heard of HIPA, is it like HIPPA? If so, I fail to see how it's relevant here, since none of this involves any patient identifying information. Granted, I assume you didn't RTFA and like everyone else here jumped to a bunch of ridiculous conclusions about what's really going on here.

Re:Ever heard of HIPA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554294)

HIPAA is specific in allowing information to be gathered for research as long as identifying information of the patient is removed. Since this involves the names of the prescribing doctors and not the patients, HIPAA doesn't really apply.

Re:Ever heard of HIPA? (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555226)

That does not matter because the data is already be sold, the court just said you cannot the speech of a sub-set; limit it for all or none.

Re:Ever heard of HIPA? (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555946)

Care to rephrase that please?

Logical conclusion of this (3, Insightful)

AarghVark (772183) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554226)

Now that the gloves are off and they can mine data to their hearts content, what is to prevent them from using the data for more than just advertising? I think some people will start seeing letters like this in the future from their insurance companies: "Dear Sir/Madam, due to the number of your relatives receiving (cancer/alzheimers/diabetes/etc) treatment, we are electing to no longer cover you due."

Re:Logical conclusion of this (2)

Twon (46168) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554346)

They'd have to figure out who the insured is, first, as well as their relatives are -- I'm not sure it'd be impossible with a sufficient quantity of data, but the patient's name gets stripped out of the data in question. I think this is a bad idea for other reasons, but at least there's that. FTFA:

When filling prescriptions, Vermont pharmacies collect information, including the prescribing physician's name and address; the name, dosage, and quantity of the medication; the date and place where the prescription was filled; and the patient's age and gender.

Re:Logical conclusion of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36555172)

If sharing the data is free speech, then there clearly should be something limits what they can say about you. I say if they imply that you are prone to a disease, sue them for libel.

Re:Logical conclusion of this (1)

berbo (671598) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555316)

Depends. If they can correlate your health records with your credit history, they would search for wealthier people, who would get this letter:

Dear Sir/Madam, we understand that you are at risk for (something terrible requiring expensive treatment). We'd like to offer you our Premium insurance program.

Re:Logical conclusion of this (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555792)

That would be discrimination based on genetics, which is against the law [nih.gov] .

Re:Logical conclusion of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36556410)

That would be discrimination based on genetics, which is against the law [nih.gov] .

... for now. :)

Re:Logical conclusion of this (1)

Richard Dick Head (803293) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555822)

Not to mention companies looking for dirt in the hiring process. The FCRA is violated as a matter of course in many HR dept's, because it is hard to prove if you cover everything up. It wouldn't take long before this data winds up in the hands of a shady background check company, and there's nothing anybody could do about it.

Interviewing == Dating. All the same rules apply. And human nature shuns baggage of any kind, even if it is "fully treated". HR people tend to be ruthless "daters", its their job.

I mean, consider if you found out the person you are dating has numerous mental disorders, how do you react? You get less interested.

You don't want to say
"I won't date you anymore because you have paranoid schizophrenia, and here is a copy of the background check I ran on you",

you say,
"sorry I don't think this will work out".

Same thing happens in the hiring process, nobody tolerates well the drama that happens when you give people the real reason for not being interested in them.

Free to force speech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554268)

Data mining is compelled speech, it's the opposite of free speech. All the Vermont law asks for is the physicians permission - so if everyone consents, they can still speak. There's no free speech violation whatsoever.

How does this impact the Roe V Wade ruling (2)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554344)

Now what I wonder is how this impacts the Roe V Wade decision as I am not a legal scholar nor do I pretend to be one on /. but to me it seems that this ruling clashes because of the right to privacy which was found in that decision. The Vermont law wasn't outside that right, but supposedly violated the free speech rights of the corporations. It is rather sad commentary that it seems corporations now have more rights than individuals. I am not trying to troll but if one really wanted to stir the pot with this ruling just mention that it would allow data mining of individuals who have taken the morning after pill or other similar ones (I don't know if they exist).

I find the law to be fascinating being that I am engineer. this is mostly due to how it seem the law claims to be fair, and only concerned with the facts, but never seems to be. Additionally I get the impression that there really isn't much logic in how justice is handed out as there are very different ruling from different courts on the same issue.Maybe I should submit my resume the next time a spot opens up on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Re:How does this impact the Roe V Wade ruling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554638)

The legal system isn't fair, or concerned with facts. It's an "adversarial" system, not unlike "trial by combat"... but the combat is verbal. The side of "right" should theoretically always have the superior argument, but remember. If the glove don't fit, you must acquit.

Re:How does this impact the Roe V Wade ruling (1)

theangrypeon (1306525) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554866)

I am not trying to troll but if one really wanted to stir the pot with this ruling just mention that it would allow data mining of individuals who have taken the morning after pill or other similar ones (I don't know if they exist)

This is a bit of straw-manning of what the actual case was about. From another article on the subject [yahoo.com] .

Pharmacies are required by state and federal law to get that information when they fill prescriptions. They sell the information, without patient names, to data mining companies that, in turn, provide drug makers with a detailed look at what drugs doctors choose for their patients..

The data-miners aren't going to know who is taking what, only what pills doctors are prescribing. This makes the "privacy" argument on the other side lose a bit of luster. I could admit that people could use this data to help find out who is actually taking what, but there are probably other ways of legally preventing marketers from connecting the dots. Furthermore, the law did not restrict the doctor prescription data from being released at all, only that certain types of people couldn't use it for certain types of purposes. The majority found this law to be very selectively targeting specific uses of information to pass constitutional muster, and I think I agree with that.

Re:How does this impact the Roe V Wade ruling (1)

Caraig (186934) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555082)

Well, if I had any faith that this data wouldn't be used for marketing shenanigans, I'd be leaning towards saying that this is good data to have. There are a number of interesting trends that I can think of off the top of my head that could be investigated with this data.

Unfortunately, 'selling data' kind of implies that it's going straight to marketing.

Re:How does this impact the Roe V Wade ruling (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555070)

I think the key is the de-personalized data that is being used. We can surmise that they were not talking about Patient X using Medication Y showing up in an ad. While that's not analogous, there probably is a yet-to-be defined area between the areas of doctor-patient privacy, personal rights, and information first amendment rights. I doubt it will ever be totally settled except on a case-by-case basis.

Selling stuff is speech? (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554512)

Oh that explains a LOT. So every time a legislator or a judge sells a law or a ruling, it's free speech they are exercising... on all our behalves. And of course, by this standard, laws against prostitution are all unconstitutional as their selling themselves is protected by the first amendment as what they do is speech and not conduct.

Judges also know blackmail's against the law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36555664)

erroneus http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2261720&cid=36545928 [slashdot.org] you may find yourself in front of a judge one day yourself with threats of blackmail like that one you posted here on slashdot.

HIPPA? (1)

kammat (114899) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554660)

While it appears identifiable patient information isn't included, is there any way that this falls under HIPPA protections?

Ultimately (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554664)

The courts are there to enforce the letter of the law. Their response to this sort of thing is generally the same, "If you don't like the law, change it." In the past, they've interpreted "Freedom of speech" as having potential limitations, but with this court I'm pretty sure you could get away with yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater.

Limiting speech in general would be a contentious issue, and it would be a tricky thing to get right. I think we should expand on the whole "A person has the right to be secure in his papers and possessions" concept to "A person has the right to enjoy the solitude of his privacy." Much is made of the right to free speech, but I feel I also have the right not to be forced to listen to the speech of others, and laws limiting peoples' abilities to intrude into your space and bother you have been what are under attack lately.

Once the concept of privacy is defined and expanded, you start to have a framework in which you could reasonably start to limit speech in some cases. Apply these concepts to noise ordinances, the Federal "Do not call" list and the idea of "Your right to swing your fist ends when it meets someone's face" plays out. However, this could also conceivably be used to limit the ability of people to gather and protest, since that could also disrupt the lives of people who live in the protest area. So perhaps this idea still needs some work.

First Amendment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554670)

How is a doctor's prescription covered under the First Amendment? A doctor can lose his license or even go to prison for giving prescriptions out like candy... that alone proves that is in fact regulated speech, not free speech. And even if it was an expression of free speech, what does that have to do with a justification of data mining?

And doesn't it mean anything that the doctor is being paid to write the prescriptions? If his scripts are automatically entered into public domain, thereby usable by third parties, then what prevents that same reasoning being applied to an expense report I write for my company? Or, for that matter, my medical records, financial statements, etc?

This is clear example of SCOTUS overreach.

Re:First Amendment? (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 3 years ago | (#36556224)

The prescription itself is not free speech, but talking about it is. There is nothing private about a prescription except for the patient's name. You are perfectly free, if you so desire, to declare to the world that Dr Smith gave you a prescription for some drug - you don't need Dr Smith's permission to do so. And this is nothing new - in the mid 70s I worked at a pharmacy, and my job was filling out a card with drug-dosage-doctor for each prescription filled and sending it to some company (IMS, I think).

Your expense reports are the private property of your company, and they can give them out or not as they see fit. Your medical records and financial statements are private information, and that privacy is protected by law.

best judges money can buy (1)

sunzoomspark (1960660) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554682)

Ironic that they call it free speech when it was bought and paid for by the drug companies. SCOTUS also ruled this week that makers of generic drugs cannot be sued, even in cases where there was a known problem they did nothing about[1]. They also upheld a limit on medical malpractice damages set by a West Virginia law[2]. See a pattern here?
1. http://www.wwltv.com/news/northshore/Local-shocked-US-Supreme-Court-ruled-against-her-124458214.html [wwltv.com]
2. http://www.wvmetronews.com/news.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=46230 [wvmetronews.com]
== the golden rule - those that have the gold make the rules

Re:best judges money can buy (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555066)

They have to rule according to the law. The law says that a maker of a generic drug MUST use the exact warning label on the brand-name drug. If they add an extra warning, they are in serious trouble with the FDA. If they have a duty to add extra warning to the label, then they have a duty to break the law.

Re:best judges money can buy (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555170)

Get a better source for your news.
For the decision on generic drugs the court said they cannot be held to a higher responsibility then the drug they are coping. The original drugs did not have to have the warning so the copies of the drugs did not need the warning and could not be sued because the warning was not there. A very logical decision.

Boggles the mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36554692)

How could this possibly be a free speech issue? It's not like the drug companies and their detailers are in any way limited in their speech, they can say whatever they want. There is no limitation of speech in any way. What this is is a limit on information.

It's interesting that businesses are perfectly happy to restrict the flow of information to consumers. Try to get internal company information about investments, drugs or foods... Next time try to see if you can figure out which produce is say genetically modified, or was grow with certain pesticides or processed industrial waste fertilizer.

The practical aspect of this of course is that doctors are paid employees of the drug companies. I'm sure if the doctors don't get direct kickbacks from the drug companies they get indirect payments (honorariums?). Dr Smith you've just written your 100th prescription this month for Greatix please come to Hawaii for a conference to explain your successes all the alcohol, drugs and prostitutes you could want will be available for you use all week...

Once again the supreme court is a group of rich elitists just attempting to maintain the power of the powerful and the status quo. Look at their history, other that a few progressive decisions from the Warren court the supreme court has rarely provided decisions that helped the American people. Holders of slavery or imprisoning innocent people, they've been right there to protect those noble causes.

Very sad.

Isn't sharing data good? (1, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554700)

You got a lot of Slashdotters praising hacker groups for exposing all sorts of information. However when there is a legal sharing of information it is just horrible.

Data mining isn't bad it is about collecting data. Business Intelligence is processing the data and its trends to solve issues. Ok yes for the case Pharma is using it to sell to doctors. They are going to do that anyways, now they can do it more directly and cheaper, and that cost savings does get passed down.

And for you IT people wanting cool Comp Sci jobs, Data Mining and Business Intelligence is actually quite fun Computer Science work, it is good pay, and not well outsourced.

Re:Isn't sharing data good? (2)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554896)

Yes, Slashdotters are largely using double-standards in regards to Wikileaks.

Re:Isn't sharing data good? (1)

ukemike (956477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555480)

Yes, Slashdotters are largely using double-standards in regards to Wikileaks.

Hardly. In one case you have governments that are supposed to serve their people and don't; that reflexively classify everything mostly to hide the foul deeds of people in government from the people. In this case some sunshine is a good thing. It is beneficial to people and to societies to know what their governments are up to.

In the second case you have massive corporations that have access to the most intimate details of all our personal lives. They wish to use this data for profit. This almost always happens to the detriment of people and societies. That data is not the property of society at large (like the data of a government is). It is private. It should be under the control of individuals.

The only way you can twist these two situations into a "double standard" is by making the erroneous case that these two cases are similar. They are not.

Re:Isn't sharing data good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36555268)

I think most people make the distinction that *people* have a right to privacy, but corporations and governments do not. Especially if those institutions are very powerful. Power needs transparency in order to prevent abuse.

Re:Isn't sharing data good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36555432)

Mod parent up. This is absolutely the case. Corporations and business do not have a right to privacy.

Re:Isn't sharing data good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36556040)

I think the difference is that we see sharing govmt/corp data as good because the power is shifted in their favor so much. When they get free reign over our data they increase in power, when they get their data aired, we gain some power. Most here agree that power belongs in the hands of the many instead of the few.

Hm... (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554804)

I'd like to express my first amendment right and say FUCK YOU SUPREME COURT.

Can you hear Mark Zuckerberg singing about it? (2)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554836)

All I do is win-win-win no matter what! I got money on my mind, I can never get enough!

Once again the summary is way, way off (2)

will_die (586523) | more than 3 years ago | (#36554968)

Again a very poor summary and let me predict that most of the comments on this board will be from idiots who think they understand the decision from the summary.
The decision said that states cannot limit the speech* of companies that purchase info from pharmacies to one specific group, in this case manufacturers of drugs. If they want to limit the speech it has to be to everyone not just one class.

*There have been previous longstanding decisions that say that some data is free speech and cannot be limited by the states or federal government.

Re:Once again the summary is way, way off (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555156)

Having RTFA just once, what I find most disturbing is that pharmacies can sell the information of what doctor is prescribing what drug.

This eases the opportunities for pharma bussiness of going to doctors and telling them "If we receive x prescription of our product from you, we will pay you a % as our agent. And we do not care if the drug is what the patients really needed or not, we only care about units sold."

The rest of the data is mostly harmless (it needs to be linked to medical history to retrieve the name of the patient, and if you have the medical history you probably already have all what you need).

Re:Once again the summary is way, way off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36555552)

Hi. Unfortunately I know several doctors that give this informations for "free". Well, the pharma industry gives them free trips to "conferences" all over the world, usually on a sunny beach in a foreign country. That's really really sad, but really really true.

Fine (1)

jvkjvk (102057) | more than 3 years ago | (#36555810)

The Supreme Court and Big Business want information to be free?

So be it.

Regards.

Stupid Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36556416)

I did not think corporations were ever covered under the constitution. Yeah, I know the ruling a few years back that made corporations the same as people, but it makes no logical sense. A corporation is a non-living entity and thus should not have access to the right of free speech for personal gain. Heck, I am not even sure me as an actual living thing has the right to use someone else's information for profit. So can I am an actual living and breathing citizen mine all of the records of any corporation? It is my right to free speech no? So if I can mine from whatever sources I want the next new iPhone or iPad or Windows, etc and sell that information it should be perfectly legal. But why then when that happens is it stealing corporate secrets? Make up your mind. Is a corporation a corporation or a person? If it is a person it can't have secrets that cannot be data-mined for profit according to this ruling. If it is a corporation than it should not have access to this information for profit because it does not have free speech.

It feels like the old heads I win and tails you lose trick. So in essence the most prudent thing to do is to setup corporations for each individual (costs about $650) and any time any of my information is used, it is corporate trade secrets and me incorporated should be able to sue correct? I wonder if the Supreme court can wrap its head around that logic. But you are a person and cannot be a corporation. But we said corporations are people. So...arghh!!!! heads explode.

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