Photo by Michael Springer/Getty Images
Photo by Michael Springer/Getty Images

ISIS is overrunning Iraq, the Boston Marathon was bombed, several other threats have been averted thanks to the intelligence gathering entities we have in place today.

But there is also a growing segment of society that is watching their right of privacy slowly diminish by the day.

Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA about all the information they were compiling about American activities at all levels.

In light of that information is it time to rethink the Patriot Act?

A Little Patriot Act History

The USA Patriot Act was signed into law by Congress on October 26, 2001. A little over a month after the attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City.

The act passed the house by a vote of 357 to 66 and the senate 98-1. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) was the only dissenting vote in the senate.

Have you ever wondered why it’s called the “USA Patriot Act?”

It’s a ten-letter backronym that stands for, "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” Act of 2001.

Who thinks this stuff up?

President Obama signed the Patriot Sunsets Extension Act of 2011, extending the act for four years, on May 26, 2011.

It’s been renewed every time it’s been presented for a vote with various changes since its inception. It’s up for renewal again in June of 2015.

It may wind up being a political football for the 2016 election.

Key Provisions of the USA Patriot Act

The act deals with three principle areas of intelligence. Roving wiretaps, searches of business records (including books you check out of your local library), and surveillance of so called “lone wolves” who are individuals that might act alone to commit terrorist acts.

The Boston Marathon bombers would fit that category.

Additional Patriot Act Provisions

Indefinite detention of immigrants, home and business searches without owner consent or knowledge, FBI authorization to search telephone, e-mail and financial records without a court order are a few of provisions that have been included in the Patriot Act.

The USA Patriot Act changed many existing laws and acts as well. Including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA), the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 and Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), as well as the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Many of the provisions of the Patriot Act are considered a violation of several constitutional amendments and congress has made many rewordings of the act over the years.

Some Final Thoughts

Where do protection of our rights stop and safety from terrorism start? We all want to be safe from terrorism but at what cost?

How much do we have to give up to be safe? Is the government going to act in a responsible manner or do they often overreach their authority?

Should the Patriot Act be eliminated or is information that helps stop terrorism more important?

What do you think? Renew as is, repeal, or revise and keep? Comments below.

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