LawMeme has a wonderful article on coerced consent.

Mild intrusions into our privacy occur all the time. When you have cable TV installed, do you give out your phone number? Yes. If the Cable TV company sells your phone number to a telemarketer, do you know about it? No way.

Maybe the Cable TV company has a privacy policy in place that they won’t sell your number. Will they tell you if they change the policy? What if they get bought by another company that has a different policy?

So how about when you sign something that says a hospital has some rights to look at your medical records, or if your electric company makes you sign something that gives your consent for someone to enter your home in the interests of public safety. Sounds OK, right?

But what if the hospital sells the rights to look at your medical records to an insurance company? Or what if the electric company decides to sell your permission to the police department? If a Cable TV company can sell your privacy in the form of a phone number, shouldn’t a hospital be allowed to sell your privacy in the form of your drug treatment history?