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As gratifying as it was to see the “news” media actually do its job last week when the IRS scandal broke, it was also odd that the coverage focused exclusively on abuses of power relating to various Tea Party and anti-abortion groups. A much scarier IRS story has been virtually ignored by the establishment press. On Wednesday, it was reported that a class-action lawsuit had been filed against a group of IRS agents who, according to the complaint filed by “John Doe Company” in the Southern District of California, “stole more than 60,000,000 medical records of more than 10,000,000 Americans, including at least 1,000,000 Californians.”
Before I get to the feature of this case that will really scare the pants off you, a little more background: This tawdry tale began in 2011 with an IRS investigation concerning one former employee of “John Doe Company” pursuant to which a search warrant was obtained. This warrant didn’t authorize the seizure of anyone’s medical records, but the IRS agents “threatened to ‘rip’ the servers containing the medical data out of the building if IT personnel would not voluntarily hand them over.” They proceeded to seize the records “without making any attempt to segregate the files from those that could possibly be related to the search warrant.”
The leadership of “John Doe Company” attempted to make the IRS people understand that they had violated at least one federal law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), and that “unreasonable searches and seizures” violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. The agents were unimpressed. As the complaint phrases it, “After being put on notice of the illicit seizure, the IRS agents refused to return the records, continued to keep the records for the prying eyes of IRS peeping toms, and keep the records to this very day.” The IRS also refuses to reveal who has seen the records or where they are located.
Has the IRS Already Seized Your Medical Records?