The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 is a federal law passed in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which expanded the government’s surveillance powers and increased its ability to investigate and prevent acts of terrorism.
The USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act) was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001. The law was passed in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was intended to give law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies additional tools to investigate and prevent acts of terrorism.
The USA PATRIOT Act includes a wide range of provisions, including those that:
- Expanded the government’s surveillance powers, including the ability to monitor communications, conduct wiretaps, and access business records.
- Enhanced the government’s ability to share information between intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies.
- Created new criminal offenses related to terrorism, such as providing material support to terrorists and carrying out acts of terrorism.
- Increased the penalties for existing terrorism-related offenses.
- Provided for the detention and deportation of non-citizens suspected of terrorism-related activities.
The USA PATRIOT Act has been the subject of controversy and criticism since its passage, with some civil liberties advocates arguing that it infringes on individual rights and liberties. In response to these concerns, Congress has made some changes to the law over the years. For example, in 2015, Congress passed the USA FREEDOM Act, which made several changes to the surveillance provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. These changes included the prohibition of bulk collection of phone metadata and increased oversight of government surveillance activities.
In 2019, several provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act were set to expire, including those related to the government’s surveillance powers. However, Congress reauthorized these provisions through the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020. This law extends several key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act through 2023, including those related to surveillance and information sharing between intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies.