USA Patriot Act Curtails Civil Liberties

The Patriot Act should not continue by reason of various violations it has against the citizen’s civil liberties. Remarkably, through the USA Patriot Act, several rights of the federal authorities have expanded. Among the affected aspects of life that is changed by the Act is communications and criminal investigation. Every technical conversation can be tracked by the federal authorities through surveillance. Specifically, Title II and VII of the Act have changed hacking and surveillance laws (Plesser, Halpert, and Cividanes).

Under Title II deals with enhanced surveillance procedure while Title VII deals with the strengthening of the criminal laws against terrorism (Electronic Privacy Information Center, 2009). On communication, the federal government has been given authority to intercept wire, oral, or electronic communication relating to computer fraud and abuse offenses (Plesser, Halpert, and Cividanes). Through this provision, the government will be assisting the service providers in hacking, in denying service attacks and violations of Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (Plesser, Halpert, and Cividanes).

Notably, in the internet hacking, the government can advice the service providers to do a particular activity that does not require the latter to inform the subscriber. This way, the service providers cannot guarantee the privacy of the subscribers. In addition, any information taken by the federal government can be shared among other federal agencies which have significantly changed several statutes. Notably, the provision also allowed roving surveillance authority which has remarkably resulted in the increased roving tap activity of the federal government (Plesser, Halpert, and Cividanes).

Meanwhile, the surveillance has been strengthened and implemented by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (Berkman Center for Internet and Society, 2009). Through the Act, the FISA has expanded as to its functions and requirements. Under the Act, probable cause and notice of search are not required in obtaining a warrant (Berkman Center for Internet and Society, 2009). In addition, the person against whom the search is issued cannot challenge the warrant because of the wiretapping or search because of the secrecy of such. In the application of warrant, the federal authorities have to apply before the FISA court.

Apart from the unsecured communication, the surveillance authority of the federal government also extends to making a “sneak and peek searches” in one’s home or offices by virtue of a warrant obtained secretly (Howard, Forest, and Moore, 2005, p. 372). Furthermore, the government can obtain a pen register or trap and trace in order to access the numbers dialed, missed and answered by an individual necessary in criminal investigation (Plesser, Halpert, and Cividanes). This also extended the information retrieved as it already involved accessing the dialing, routing, and signaling information (Berkman Center for Internet and Society, 2009).

It is also noteworthy that during the investigation of the 9/11 attack, it was found that libraries were used by the terrorist in retrieving and in sharing confidential information with and among their companions. As a consequence, the Patriot Act also included provisions that allowed the surveillance and tracking of library internet users. This provision was criticized by librarians because of the intrusion into the privacy of the innocent library users (Essex). Apart from that, there is no specific legislative act which would identify or serve as guidelines wherein librarians can validly violate the right to privacy of the users.