The Usa Patriot Act Essay

1332 words - 5 pages

Today the word "patriot" sparks a different meaning then it did 5 years ago. People now are split on what they think when the word "patriot" means to themselves. One person may think of how great their government has been and another may think the whole system needs changed. Today paying close attention when you hear the USA PATRIOT Act and awkward acronym stands for Uniting Strengthening America by Providing the Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (Act) a 342 page document forced and reluctantly passed in a hurry a month after September 11 by a scared and vengeful Congress. "Appropriate Tools" in this case, means expanded surveillance and monitoring at significantly reduced checks and balances surrounding how these tools are used.The PATRIOT Act concerns you if you frequent libraries or bookstores, Internet service providers, go to school, go to the doctor, use credit cards or banks, have a lawyer, leave the country, go to jail, belong to an activist organization, read alternative publications, or know anyone who does this (Welch, 3). Your rights to do all these things and the rights to do these things free of surveillance has completely changed in the past two years.Hale 2One of the most talked about insinuations of these new instilled powers is the privacy of library and bookstore patrons, or lack thereof. Previously, a government or police official that wanted privileged information (such as lists of books checked out, Internet habits, or home addresses and phone numbers) had to have subpoena issued by a judge. The US Senate describes that now they usually do not need a search warrant, and the warrant, which can be issued almost immediately, does not need to have a specific name on it. In other words, the FBI can go to your library or bookstore and go there to "gather intelligence" on everyone who may use the library, not necessarily to track down a particular suspected criminal (William, 43). They can also install monitoring software on library computers without telling anyone its there.The worst part of this new act is the gag order. If the FBI does come to your library, your librarian, is forbidden by law, to tell you or anyone else that they have been there, or what they did. If they installed surveillance equipment on the computers, they cannot tell you. If they asked for the list of the last 50 books you or everyone who uses the library checked out or purchased, your librarian tell you. The same is true for bookstore owners and employees. The PATRIOT Act creates an entirely new class of prosecutable criminal: librarians who tell the truth (56). Many libraries now have written privacy policies that tell exactly what information they will or will not share that are themselves braches of state laws regarding privacy of library information -- all states but Kentucky and Hawaii have laws making library records confidential.Hale 3In fact many of these state privacy laws are themselves a reaction to another misguided...

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