The USA PATRIOT Act: Increasing the size of government

Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism -- a.k.a. the USA PATRIOT Act --is a huge program with a catchy little title that does more to increase the size of government than it does to fight terrorism.

Below you will find SearchSecurity.com expert Kevin Beaver's response to questions about how the PATRIOT Act affects individual security and civil liberties. This article is one of a group of SearchSecurity.com expert answers to questions on this legislation.

Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism -- a.k.a. the USA PATRIOT Act -- is a huge program with a catchy little title that does more to increase the size of government than it does to fight terrorism. It was easy to pass -- everyone was emotional over the unfortunate September 11 terrorist attacks. It was developed behind closed doors between Congress and the Bush Administration, and there was initially no debate or amendments allowed. It just passed -- unfortunately, using terrorism as an excuse to attack our individuality and personal freedoms. It's anything but patriotic.

From tracking large bank transactions, to tracking what books we check out from the library, to listening in on our e-mail conversations, the PATRIOT Act and the subsequent Cyber Security Enhancement Act (CSEA) have done little (and probably never will do a lot) to actually fight terrorists. Here are a few reasons why I think it's bad:

  • This legislation defines terrorists to include non-violent computer hackers and more. What happens when someone else sends a message threatening national security in your name!? That's going to be a tough one to prove.
  • E-mail can now be snooped on without a court order.
  • ISPs and other providers no longer have an incentive to protect our personal information (not that they had much before).
  • Aren't we supposed to be the home of the free?
  • The Internet, and even our own ability to hold private conversations, as we know them are gone.
  • It's my opinion that enforcement of existing laws and better detective work on the part of our government's law enforcement agencies could've been the solution to September 11 and various other terrorist attacks -- both in the past and in the future. New laws never keep the bad guys at bay. They only affect law-abiding citizens. Unfortunately, the terrorists are already working on other ways to attack us that we don't have a law against (yet).

    The government's need for "information" is outweighing our right to privacy. What's next? Will firewalls, IDS, encryption and antivirus software be outlawed so our government can have full and complete access to our systems? I think these laws and similar laws that will inevitably be passed in the future do more to harm privacy, security and personal freedoms than anyone ever bargained for. That's an ROI I'm not willing to buy into.


    Read the other SearchSecurity.com expert responses:
  • Ed Tittel: Contemplating the PATRIOT Act
  • Sondra Schneider: Cooperating with law enforcement for U.S. security
  • Jon Callas: Invasion of the PATRIOT Act
  • Ed Yakabovicz: When there's too much security
  • Stephen Mencik: The Patriot Act and Carnivore: Reasons for concern?
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