Senate Pushes Web Pharmacy Regulations

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There’s most likely a balance between no regulation and too much regulation, and the current Democratic Congress is walking that line. No one would doubt the potential harm caused by "rogue" Web-dealers, but Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vt.) tightening grip on Internet service providers should at least cause one to step back a bit to look at it.

Leahy heads up the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is throwing support behind polarizing Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as they move to make it harder for people to buy bogus or controlled pharmaceuticals online.

On the surface, Online Consumer Protection Act sounds noble enough – it would require online pharmacies to publicly comply with state and federal licensing requirements and fill only those medications prescribed by doctors who have personally examined the patient.

Certainly, prescriptions meds are far too easy to get online. People have been hurt and killed by bad drugs and there has been pressure put on directories and search engines to tighten their requirements for pharmaceutical ads. Something needs to tighten somewhere.

But where this bill oversteps the balance is that it institutes another level of government control over ISPs by requiring they block sites they suspect of advertising or selling illegal pharmaceuticals.

While regulation is often necessary, this nipping at the heels of the DoJ’s Big Brother behavior and Congress’ general lack of common sense when it comes to the Web (Internet gambling and the series of tubes, anyone?), the extent to which the government seeks control is, at least a little, alarming.

CNet’s Anne Broache notes that the bill’s main critics come from, quite surprisingly, the Drug Enforcement Administration (interesting they have time to protest given how busy they are winning the War on Drugs). The DEA says policing pharmaceuticals on the Web is their job, given to them via the Controlled Substances Act.

That the hand of noble causes often devolves into an unnecessary iron fist is beside the point. Ratcheting up control at every opportunity is a scary thought – it’s the type of thing that makes online poker illegal but horse race gambling and lotteries not.

If we are to regulate the Internet (and to be clear, some regulation is necessary), let’s use regulation sparingly. 

Senate Pushes Web Pharmacy Regulations
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  • Jean Carney

    What are the Federal Regulations? I understand it is different from State to State?? –Yet they are convicting people for 22+ YRS. FOR A lAW THAT DOESN’T EXIST! tHIS COUNTRY IS BECOMING mORE COMMUNISTIC EVERY DAY!

    • Zack

      What the hell are you talking about?
      Federal Law trumps State Law. You can be sent to prison for life for violating the Controlled Substance Act, and it doesn’t take much… look it up.

  • John Valenti

    I’m not going to say anything about the main theme of your essay, but I just want to post a defense of the “series of tubes” congress critter….

    I’ve been networking for over 20 years. The tube concept (virtual pipes or tubes of various sizes) was pretty common at least ten years ago. Several years ago I ran across a wireless Internet provider in Michigan called bigtube.net – I knew exactly what they meant. They are still in business, look them up.

    I don’t know why people insist on making fun of the guy for something that was common among net techs years ago. Have you listened to his speech? (Ok, the blockage in his tubes was probably a mail server, but you can’t expect a non-techie to get all the details correct)

  • http://www.yandex.ru Guest

    What are these regulations?

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