The US Patriot Act provision for law enforcement and intelligence officials to conduct physical searches and electronic surveillance has received support and criticism in various part of the world. In Canada, the legislation has been considered as a threat to privacy and this has made the Canadian government assure citizens protection of their privacy through the Privacy Act and PIPEDA. The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has supported the initiative to conduct investigation but recommends that only the best practices should be applied when doing so.
Canada in response to the US Patriot Act has also supported information gathering about terrorism through the enactment of the Anti-terrorism Act. The collaboration of the US with other nations in fighting terrorism has encouraged countries such as Canada which have laws and policies that protect personal information to facilitate information gathering on terrorism. In Europe, many countries support the investigation and information gathering advocated for by the section 218 of the Patriot Act. However, a concern over privacy and protection of personal information has led to debates and discussions between the European Union and the United States.
Whether governments should disclose airline passenger information is a question that the European nations and the United States have been addressing during the debates. Efforts to implement section 218 has encouraged Asian nations to fight terrorism. For instance, the Shanghai cooperation organization (SCO) which comprises of countries such as China and Russia aims at fighting terrorism and religious extremism in Asia. The organization has put into place policies that address the insecurity issue in Asia as a result of the frequent terror activities in the region.
The US Patriotic Act section 218 has reduced terror activities all over the world. This is because the US government efforts to counter terrorism have been successful in arresting and convicting terror suspects who may be found guilty of the charges against them based on the information gathered by the authorities. The Patriot Act has facilitated “war on terror” efforts. Many countries have benefited from the US government initiative to counter terrorism. For example, the US government efforts to fight the Taliban and the Al Qaeda have been instrumental in suppressing terror activities perpetrated by the two groups.
Apart from suppressing terror activities against the US and its allies, section 218 has enabled the US government to restore security in areas that have been experiencing instability due to terror activities. By allowing the security agencies such as FBI to conduct searches and electronic surveillance, plans of attacks by terrorists can be uncovered. The plans can be countered before any attacks are made. Many countries have also developed laws and policies that ensure terror suspects are investigated thoroughly.
Conclusion In September 2001, the United States witnessed one of the most devastating terror attacks in the world. The effects the attack had on the United States and the world made it necessary for all nations all over the world to fight terrorism. One of the ways through which the American government and leaders showed their commitment and dedication to fight terrorism was through the enactment of the US Patriot Act. The legislation aimed at expanding the powers of the law enforcement authorities, the intelligence department and the judiciary when dealing with terrorism.
The Act facilitates efforts by the American government to combat terrorism. Although the Patriot Act has been successful in efforts to fight terrorism, some sections of the legislation have raised controversy in America. Section 218 of the Act is one of the sections that have attracted criticism. The critics argue that the expansion of powers of the law enforcement authorities and intelligence officials to conduct searches and electronic surveillance on suspects may lead to the abuse of citizen rights and civil liberty. The Patriot Act has had great impact in other nations as they try to fight terror.
- American Civil Liberties Union. USA PATRIOT Act www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=12126 Accessed on May 7, 2009
- Brasch, Walter. America's Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Government's Violation of Constitutional and Civil Rights. Peter Lang Publishing, 2005 Department of Justice.
- Fact Sheet’s Patriot Act Provisions set for Reauthorization www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2005/April/05_opa_163.htm Accessed on May 7, 2009