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United States Medicine Privacy Transportation

Disabled Woman Denied Entrance To US Due To Private Medical Records 784

Jah-Wren Ryel writes "In 2012, Canadian Ellen Richardson was hospitalized for clinical depression. This past Monday she tried to board a plane to New York for a $6,000 Caribbean cruise. DHS denied her entry, citing supposedly private medical records listing her hospitalization. From the story: '“I was turned away, I was told, because I had a hospitalization in the summer of 2012 for clinical depression,’’ said Richardson, who is a paraplegic and set up her cruise in collaboration with a March of Dimes group of about 12 others.'"
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Disabled Woman Denied Entrance To US Due To Private Medical Records

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  • While... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dj Stingray ( 178766 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @03:07AM (#45553249)

    ..literally hundreds of others crossed the border illegally. USA USA USA!

  • by bob_super ( 3391281 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @03:12AM (#45553259)

    We don't want no evil Canadian paraplegic terrorist to assault our defenseless citizens with kind words.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 29, 2013 @03:27AM (#45553305)

      The article conveniently left out that that the March of Dimes makes no commitments to organizing non-violent marches. It's clearly a radical, dangerous group.

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @03:35AM (#45553339)

      We don't want no evil Canadian paraplegic terrorist to assault our defenseless citizens with kind words.

      Irrational fear is the new patriotism.

      • by pablo_max ( 626328 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @03:57AM (#45553407)

        Irrational fear is the new patriotism.

        No, it is not new. Irrational fear has ALWAYS been the keystone to American "patriotism". Hell, just look at the whole McCarthyism thing.

        • irrational fear has been the keystone to all patriotism

          nothing american about a human phenomenon

    • by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @03:48AM (#45553373)

      We don't want no evil Canadian paraplegic terrorist to assault our defenseless citizens with kind words.

      Meh. Canadian medical privacy is kind of ridiculously done--they put diagnosis (rather than just prescription) on the slips they give the pharmacist, which means for most of small-town Canada, there is near-zero medical privacy. (These are places where the post office knows everyone by name.)

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 29, 2013 @08:26AM (#45554405)

        This entire article is flamebait. She published a book one year ago about her ordeal with depression and suicide attempts leading to her being paraplegic. It's on a her own website, - yet the articles frame the issue as if her medical privacy was compromised? She published herself right on the Bio page about seeking repeated medical help.

        I'm starting to get tired of this shit Toronto Star.

    • by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @05:24AM (#45553765) Homepage

      Not to mention evil Canadian paraplegic depressed terrorists. Can you imagine the guilt they could inspire in honest citizens with their "I'm sorry"s?

  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @03:21AM (#45553281) Homepage

    Give me your tired^whealthy, your poor^wrich/Your huddled masses^wvisa-workers yearning to breathe free^w"managed"

    Only a few more words to go people; you can do it!

  • D for douchebag? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Misagon ( 1135 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @03:22AM (#45553285)

    Does the D in DHS stand for douchebag?

  • Collusion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 29, 2013 @03:22AM (#45553287)

    How did they get her Canadian medical records? Canada's hospitals are run by government... did the government really hand over all of Canadians' private medical records to a foreign country?

    What scum.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by phantomfive ( 622387 )
      As far as I can tell, the only part we have of this story if from the woman herself, who is apparently delusional (at least, has had problems with that in the past). For all we know, they found out because she told them (they apparently didn't know about her suicide attempt; again, I'm going based on my understanding of the article).

      It's the kind of situation where you want to hear all the evidence before passing judgement. We don't have it all here.

      Although I don't really understand why they want to ke
      • Re:Collusion (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @03:49AM (#45553375)

        Although I don't really understand why they want to keep depressed people out, it's just a tourist visa, not even a long term thing.

        Bruce Schneier calls it "the war on the unusual" - I like "the war on diginity" because it better encompasses the kafka-esque nature of the unthinking and unyielding bureaucracy that produces this sort of result.

      • Re:Collusion (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mrbester ( 200927 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @05:13AM (#45553727) Homepage

        Delusional? No, she was treated for clinical depression after a relationship ended. I guess you've never had a soul destroying break up that leaves you alone and utterly bereft of joy in your life. Be thankful for that because it fucking sucks.

      • Re:Collusion (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hattig ( 47930 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @07:08AM (#45554161) Journal

        I don't think you have a clear understanding of mental illness.

        It's like physical illness, but applied to the brain and mental functions. People get better. People get worse. Some people are very very ill, many are just a bit ill. 1 in 4 people will have a mental health issue at some point in their life.

        By "is delusional" you mean "was delusional". This is now managed with drugs, just like someone who lost their leg has their "balance issues" managed with a false limb. I don't think anyone would condone blocking entry to a country because that person had lost a leg in the past.

        The decision was appalling, and the fact that it is clear that Canada is giving up private medical records to US authorities is disgusting.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 29, 2013 @04:47AM (#45553625)

      The point is that the NSA knows about everyones personal medical records. And they abuse that information.

  • Umm, what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @03:22AM (#45553289) Journal
    It's not exactly a surprise at this point that the only thing keeping the DHS from telling you where you left your keys this morning is the fact that they are unhelpful assholes, not the fact that they don't know; but why would the DHS consider a depressed Canadian (whose itinerary, and thus the fact that she'd be on a boat for most of her time here, were presumably also known to them) an entry problem? Tourists, while occasionally irksome, are basically pure profit, and it's not like she's going to be sponging off our kick-ass public health system, or stealing our jobs from her wheelchair.

    Is there some catch-all 'medical refusal' category left over from the good old days of TB screenings at Ellis Island that somebody felt like powertripping on? What sort of insane logic is at work here?
    • Re:Umm, what? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @05:30AM (#45553785)
      This is CBP (customs and border patrol). Although they are a part of DHS now, they've pretty much had free reign to deny people entry at the border for whatever reason long before they became a part of DHS.

      I lived in Point Roberts [] and commuted to Canada for work 5 days a week for 3 years, with weekend shopping trips to mainland Washington. So I got very familiar with how CBP works. You're probably right that it was some border agent power tripping. But aside from U.S. citizens, nobody has an inherent right to enter into the U.S. (and sometimes they even make U.S. citizens feel like you don't have a right to enter). Their default is to deny a foreigner entry unless the agent feels comfortable letting the person in, not let the person in unless the agent can find a reason to deny them entry. If you do or say anything which makes the agent wary or suspicious, you risk being denied entry. If pressed, they will just make up a reason if they're deciding based on a gut feeling. Be polite, answer their questions openly, no veiled insults, no jokes which might be misconstrued, and you'll usually fly right through. If they say something insulting to you, smile and ignore it.

      Yes that leaves a lot of opportunity for agents to act like an asshole or practice all sorts of discrimination. It doesn't matter to them. There's very little consequence for them incorrectly denying someone entry, while they suffer huge consequences for incorrectly allowing someone in. Most of the agents I met were polite and professional. All were strict. Only a few were jerks (all of us who commuted cross-border knew who the jerk agents were). Their job isn't to be fair, it's to prevent threats from entering the country. If you're trying to judge them based on fairness, I could write pages of crazy things they did (like strip someone of their Nexus pass for life because a half-eaten sandwich in the car's trash had a slice of tomato, tomatoes being on the USDA's prohibited list that month - yes the list changed monthly). I don't necessarily agree with it, but that's just how CBP works. The whole system is designed to err on the side of the country's safety - denying entry to lots of innocents is considered a worthwhile tradeoff for prohibiting entry to one threat.
      • Re:Umm, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday November 29, 2013 @08:30AM (#45554423) Homepage Journal

        Nice apologia, but it's bullshit.

        When people are denied entry on a capricious basis, everyone suffers. Though they don't know it, even the border patrol fuckwads suffer. And then the country produces more fuckwards, who apply for border patrol jobs because they sense an opportunity to bully people. Then they invent a bunch of bullshit rationalizations for being assholes.

        I tell everyone I speak to on the subject not to visit the USA. You'd have to be an asshole to give us your money. We're just going to use it to fuck you and everyone else over.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @03:26AM (#45553301)
    From the comments, there's this gem by a "jaiab":

    The US can deny anyone entry into their country for any reason or no reason.

    While I think we all agree that flying like many activities is something of a privilege. But at the same time, who really thinks it's a good idea to let some preening, unaccountable bureaucrat decide whether or not you should be granted that privilege with no justification needed?

    While the commenter goes on to note that US Customs and Border Protection should not have had access to that medical information (with the poster claiming that is the only "deeper issue" at stake), it's interesting how many issues this one incident bring up.

    In addition, we have regulations that can block someone from flying on dubious medical grounds. And that US Customs and Border Protection has the authority to block people from merely flying through the US on their way to other foreign locations.

    It's like someone knocked a whole crate of worms off the locking dock.

  • by Arduenn ( 2908841 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @03:28AM (#45553309)
    Due to her medical condition being advertised all over the internet: []
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @03:30AM (#45553317) Homepage

    That is absolutely amazing. (Not in any good way) TSA/ICE people literally have access to this stuff. It amazes me in an utterly horrifying way. That it's more international data sharing at this level should be cause for all manner of scrutiny and corrective action.

    I'm sure Canadians and others are just about done with the US and what the government is up to.

    • by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @04:41AM (#45553579) Homepage

      It's not our government that gave away your information, it was your own government that did that.

      Since you refuse to blame the right party, your attitude is hardly going to help solve your problem.

      And I might also point out, the UK, Australia, and Germany probably also have all your information. But don't blame them, they're also not the ones who gave it away.

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @04:29AM (#45553533) Homepage

    Disabled Woman Denied Entrance To US Due To Private Medical Records

    While it wouldn't necessarily be a surprise to find out that her physical disability (paraplegia) might have had some affect on her mental wellbeing over the years, is it not just a little bit disingenuous to make it the first word of the headline, implying that it was her physical disability rather than her mental illness that caused the issue at the border?

    You wouldn't write the headline "Black man arrested for insider trading" would you?

  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @04:31AM (#45553543)
    There are plenty of cruises that will leave from Britain, mostly Southampton. 1. You avoid idiocies like the one in the article. 2. There are no Americans on board!!!! Or only those that want to avoid Americans.

    Let's be honest, they're a pain in the arse and the last people you would want near you on a relaxing holiday.
  • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @05:05AM (#45553691)

    This reminds me of a former co-worker of mine at a university in Britain. My co-worker was Indian, held an MSc and a Research Fellow position at said university, while also being halfway through a PhD at the same university.

    He was scheduled to attend a conference in the US together with our line manager, but had to cancel as the US blankly refused him entrance on the grounds that the risk of him becoming an illegal immigrant was too high. Letters from the university did not help.

    Now, you may well be proud of your country, but is it really realistic to expect someone to be so desperate to live in the US that they will drop a relevant, career-progressing and decently paid job in another Western country to work in the kitchen of a golf club as an illegal immigrant?

    He now ironically works in the UK for a large, very high-tech US company.

    • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Friday November 29, 2013 @06:40AM (#45554031) Journal

      It doesn't surprise me. An Indian friend of mine told me of all the extra things Indians have to do to get a visa that British people don't, for example if an Indian has to go to the US Embassy to apply, they have to turn up in a suit or they get denied. British people can turn up in jeans and T-shirt. Immigration services (and this isn't just the US) are often filled with arbitrary rules made up by petty officials who enjoy being little Hitlers. I lived in the US for something like 6 years. The INS in the US wasn't a particular problem, but the US Embassy in London may have come out of the pages of Franz Kafka.

      I had two run-ins with the US Embassy in London. The first was when getting my L-1 visa issued. They refused it, and told me I had to go to the Embassy for an interview. Since I don't live anywhere near London it's quite a trip, so I get there nice and early. Once you go past an airport-like security, you go into this large waiting room with all the other foreigners wanting visas. It's sort of a bit like a cross between a delicatessen and a railway ticket office - you get given a deli-style ticket with a number on it and they announce your number when they want to see you, and then you go to a train station style window to be interviewed (no privacy of course). I had no idea why they had refused the application, they just stamp it "224(g)" (IIRC) which means they need more information. The numbers don't seem to be read out in any particular sequence so you can't tell when you're going to be called, and you know if you miss your number they won't call it again and they'll make you come back another day, so you can't even get into a good book while you're waiting (typically 3-4 hours). They have these "newspapers" around the waiting room, I think they were called "Going USA". The first part of this newspaper was about happy emigrants who had left your country (and for some bizarre reason, the majority of them seemed to go to the US to run gas stations), how shit your country is and how wonderful the US is. The second half of this newspaper is dedicated to telling you how we're not going to give you a visa anyway.

      Finally I got called for my "interview", the guy asked me one question: how long have you worked for your company? I told him, he stamped my passport and said "Your visa will be in the mail".

      They could have asked me that on the phone. Or even an email. Instead of wasting money and time on a day going to London and waiting in that awful room for half of it.

      The second time was when my visa was extended in the US. That part of it was pretty painless. However, I wanted to go and see my family and you have to get a new visa put in your passport. This should be a formality since the visa is already approved by the INS, so really it should be a matter of filling in the form, sending off the passport to the US Embassy in London, and a few days later getting it back. Oh no, not so easy. They refused it again! They said the form I used was out of date. So I went to the US Embassy website and downloaded the new form. It turned out to be IDENTICAL to the old form, except for the date printed at the bottom. That stupidity cost an airline change fee and an extra two weeks off work that I would have rather taken off when I chose to take them off.

      Don't think I'm ragging on the US exclusively here. This kind of douchebaggery isn't confined to the US. My next door neighbour is Albanian, and exactly the kind of person we want coming to our country, she has an engineering degree, speaks three languages fluently and is a very smart person. However the British Embassy treated her as if she were a criminal, straight up saying to her "You're a liar" about her relationship with her husband. The treatment she was given in my country's name made me ashamed to be British.

    • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @07:53AM (#45554289)

      If you are thinking they are discriminatory, I'm here to assure you that they fuck with us just as badly. I generally refuse to fly because of the DHS (our airlines having some of the worst service on earth doesn't help either) but the last time I flew it was to adopt my son, so I absolutely had to. The airline screwed up our tickets so we had to have them reissued which not only delayed us so we were barely make the flight but also flagged us because it was now a 1 way ticket to Africa paid in cash. It was like my wife were the duke boys, they were Rosco P Coltrane and had finally caught us dead to rights. The amount of grovelling, and debasing of myself I was willing to do to get them to allow me to board the plane so I wouldn't miss my foreign court date so I could finish the adoption truly amazed even myself. Alas, they really didn't give a shit, and the only thing that saved us was our bulldog of a social worker who was already well aware of our situation due to the ticket screw up and somehow got our congressman to call the DHS and demand our release from the circle jerk they called security and let us board the plane. I'd also like to mention that my congressman and I don't see eye to eye politically (I let him know when he showed up on my doorstep campaigning once) so I'm sure I'm on his naughty list, but adoption seems to be one of the last vestiges of decency in politics.

  • by nuckfuts ( 690967 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @07:10AM (#45554165)

    Where I live (British Columbia), our provincial government has contracted a US multi-national to maintain our public health records. This caused considerable controversy at the time, including an unsuccessful court challenge [].

    It should come as no surprise to any Canadian that the US has access to their health records when we're paying a US company to maintain them.

  • by Jahta ( 1141213 ) on Friday November 29, 2013 @07:59AM (#45554309)

    From TFA:

    'U.S. Customs and Border Protection media spokeswoman Jenny Burke said that due to privacy laws, “the department is prohibited from discussing specific cases.’’'

    If only they were always so scrupulous in observing privacy laws.

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker