This Just In: Centralized, Computerized Data Sometimes Accessed Inappropriately

UCLA workers snooped in Spears’ medical records:

UCLA Medical Center is taking steps to fire at least 13 employees and has suspended at least six others for snooping in the confidential medical records of pop star Britney Spears during her recent hospitalization in its psychiatric unit, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

In addition, six physicians face discipline for peeking at her computerized records, the person said.

Questioned about the breaches, officials acknowledged that it was not the first time UCLA had disciplined workers for looking at Spears’ records. Several were caught prying into records after Spears gave birth to her first son, Sean Preston, in September 2005 at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, officials said. Some were fired.

Forget the anti-totalitarianist spin of central data repositories for a moment, and reflect on the common basics of nosy human nature. When you build these databases, you make it possible for common people who have some access to it for real purposes to access a bunch of it for their own prurient interest.

It’s an unforeseen consequence, no doubt, of actions our legislators and leaders take. The consequences, like most, are only unseen by the actual people tasked with Doing Something! but are quite obvious to those of us who know the nature of the human animal.