Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Patriot Act Up For Renewal

On December 31st, 16 provisions of the Patriot Act will be expiring if not renewed by Congress. When this act was first put into play I can't say I was the biggest fan. I know it was enacted with good intentions and to attempt to curb acts of terror, but a few of the provisions overstepped their bounds. I would hope that some of these provisions get renewed, but there are definitely a few I would like to see disappear.
Section 206 -- Allows federal officials to issue roving "John Doe" wiretaps for spy and anti-terrorism investigations.
Anything that gives the government to use our friend "John Doe" to spy on people is not going to sit well with me. It gives you the feeling that everyone is presumed guilty until proven innocent. If you seem even suspicious in the least you could be tapped. I sure as hell don't want my communications tapped just because some federal official thinks I might be a terrorist.
Section 207 -- Increases the amount of time that federal officials can watch people they suspect are spies or terrorists.
I don't know exactly how long the amount of time specified is, or how long it has been increased to, but I do know that I wouldn't want a prolonged governmental surveillance over me just to see if I'm a terrorist. Heck, they could spy on people for the heck of it, for the full specified time limit, under the premise that the person is a "supposed terrorist".

Beyond those two specifically, I don't like a lot of the ambiguous wording of some of the provisions. I know the link above doesn't give the longest definitions of the provisions, but just some of the terminology should be clarified. Terms like "hacker" or "electronics" or "electronic communication" all seem like they could be twisted to work in anyone's favor.

I know there was a big stink caused when the Patriot Act was first put into action, and it was put into action quite thoroughly, as one hearing disclosed that it was put into use 108 times over a particular 22 month stretch. I personally would like to see more refinement given to the provisions of this act if they are to be kept. If not, then what's the point of having hearings to discuss it?

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