The USA Patriot Act

On October 26, 2001, President Bush signed the USA Patriot Act (USAPA) into law. With this law new powers are granted to both domestic law enforcement and international intelligence agencies. It also eliminates the checks and balances of judicial review. Most of these checks and balances were put into place after previous misuse of surveillance powers by the government, including the revelation in 1974 that the FBI and foreign intelligence agencies had spied on over 10,000 U.S. citizens, including Martin Luther King.

Of particular interest to Swipe Bar is Section 215 of the act, giving the FBI power to demand customer records from Internet Service Providers (ISPs), libraries, bookstores or any other businesses with very little judicial oversight. These search orders do not have to specify a particular target and often times businesses are banned (or "gagged") from telling anyone that information has been requested from them.

Also noteworthy is Section 210 and 212, the amendment to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). PATRIOT Section 210 expands the records that can be sought without a court order to include: records of session times and durations, temporarily assigned network addresses, and means and source of payments, including any credit card or bank account number.

More recently, bills have passed that even further the Patriot Act, like The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004. This grants the FBI unprecedented power to obtain records from financial institutions without requiring permission from a judge.

Related Matter


U.S. Trends:
Data Collection Explosion
Data Warehouses
Government-Business Connection
Operation Shamrock
Data Accuracy
Fair Information Practices
The MATRIX (Formerly TIA)
Secure Flight (Formerly CAPPS II)
Infragard, TIPS and Cat Eyes
The USA Patriot Act

Canada and Outside the U.S.