The US Patriot Act represents the act “Unite and strengthen America by providing adequate tools to intercept and hinder terrorism”. This act became law in October 26, 2001, under the presidency of George W. Bush. The purpose of this law was to provide greater authority to all levels of law enforcement officials and intelligence agencies to prevent security threats, such as terrorism. This expansion included increased surveillance of private communications. It was presented to Congress shortly after the 11th September terrorist attacks on the country.
Key Pieces Of The Patriot Act
The Patriot Act consists of 10 titles, each of which addresses specific topics. To combat terrorism, Congress and the President approved an increase in federal funding for the FBI Terrorist Screening Center and opened a fund for anti-terrorist activities under Title I. It also gave the prosecutor’s power the request for assistance military in the event of alleged weapons of mass destruction.
In addition, the law authorizes government agencies to collect foreign intelligence information about citizens and non-US citizens. Interception and surveillance have also been expanded, giving district judges the power to order surveillance and search warrants for suspected terrorism. It continued to strengthen the banking rules against money laundering, increased the number of border patrol officers and increased the budget of the immigration and naturalization service by $ 50 million.
One of the most controversial pieces of the Patriot Act is within Title V, which expands the citation rights of field agents from various governmental organizations. Previously, this right was held only by the deputy directors. No probable cause or judge’s approval is necessary to cite information. The party receiving the summons cannot inform the suspect. Furthermore, it extends the definition of terrorism and domestic terrorism to include more criminal acts.
Updates for The Patriot Act
The Patriot Act has been updated several times since its inception. The first time was in May of 2011 when President Obama signed a bill to extend three key parts of the law for four years. These extensions include: telephone wiretapping, search for company records and surveillance of individuals not involved in terrorist groups, but suspected of independent terrorists.
In June 1, 2015, several provisions of the Patriot Act expired. However, the Congress issued the USA Freedom Act the following day. This new law renewed Obama’s previous extension and effectively banned the National Security Agency (NSA) from collecting large amounts of information on phone data. This information will now be stored by individual telephone companies. The NSA is obliged to have the permission of a federal judge to request files from a specific telephone company from a specific person.
Criticisms of The Patriot Act
Because the Patriot Act was enacted for the first time, it received heavy criticism from numerous parties, including the general public. One of the biggest criticisms is that the law gives too much power to the police. Critics believe that the part of the surveillance law can be used against individuals who are not actually terrorists, such as political protesters. Another widespread belief, even among many members of Congress, is that the law does not protect civil liberties. In at least one investigation, the Department of Justice Inspector General found that improper use of the powers of the Patriot Act was common in FBI cases, particularly in those cases that did not involve suspected terrorists.