The USA Patriot Act is a controversial law that broadly expands the ability of the U.S. government to surveil both U. S. citizens and foreign nationals around the world. It was passed by a nervous U.S. Congress in the immediate aftermath of the 9-11 Attack and is still in effect today. The law expands the government's power to do secret searches and wiretaps without the accountability formerly required through judicial oversight and has been shown to be used predominately to fight domestic crimes such as drug dealing and fraud. As well, the act allows the government to detain non-citizens for up to seven days without a trial and without being charged of a crime.
The Patriot Act permits the circumvention of a number of protections intended to be enacted by the Privacy Act of 1974 and its amendments, as well as the later Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). Described by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) as representing a significant threat to civil liberties, privacy, and democratic traditions, the EFF says the Patriot Act gives
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claims that most parts of the law are unconstitutional, saying that it gives
- Public Law 107–56, a.k.a. the Patriot Act, was made official on October 26, 2001.
- Wasn't the Patriot Act supposed to be about Stopping Terrorism? from the TechDirt podcast 9-8-2011
- After seven days, detained non-citizens must either be charged with a crime or deportation proceedings must begin.
- Description of the dangers of the Patriot Act from the Electronic Frontier Foundation website, a non-profit defending civil liberties online
- How the Patriot Act may be unconstitutional from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)