The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 was the result of the 9/11 aftermath. It was introduced less than seven days after that tragic incident, and on October 26th, it was passed into law (American Library Association [ALA], 2006). USA PATRIOT is the acronym for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” (ALA, 2006).
The act is defined as such: “To deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes” (Public Law 107-56 107th Congress). This law diversified the capacity of law enforcement for surveillance and investigation (ALA, 2006). This law was met with much criticism, as it was seen as a threat to intellectual freedom and privacy rights (ALA, 2006), and it has undergone the process of reauthorization.
Since the passing of the law, several changes have been made. Take Section 215, for example. Originally, this section enabled the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) only to declare that records were pursued for the sake of authorized investigation “to obtain foreign intelligence information not concerning a United States person or to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities” (ALA, 2006).
After the law has been rewritten, the FBI now has the power to acquire library records of anyone as long as they have “reasonable grounds” to think that the said records are crucial to their investigation (ALA, 2007). Now that Section 215 order can be challenged, but only in the presence of a “petition review panel” of a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court (ALA, 2006). Challenges are determined by its “lawfulness” (ALA, 2006).
American Library Association. (2006). The USA PATRIOT Act. Retrieved January 9, 2008, from http://www. ala. org/ala/washoff/woissues/civilliberties/theusapatriotact/usapatriotact. cfm#recinfo Findlaw. com. (2001). Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT Act) Act of 2001. Retrieved January 9, 2008, from news. findlaw. com/cnn/docs/terrorism/hr3162. pdf