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  • 3:35:02 am
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  • 20 July 2024

Dangers of the PATRIOT Act

News.Com article: U.S. lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill Tuesday that could greatly expand the electronic surveillance powers of police and ratchet up penalties relating to certain computer crimes.

Known as the Provide Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (PATRIOT) Act, the bill was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives by F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., and John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., and is expected to be debated in committee Wednesday afternoon.<BR><BR>

“It’s incredibly likely to make it through,” said an aide to the House Committee on the Judiciary.<BR><BR>

An earlier version of the bill, known as the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), was held up over civil rights concerns last week. The members of the House Judiciary Committee worked through the weekend and late Monday to draft the new PATRIOT Act, said a staffer.<BR><BR>

If enacted, the new bill would add to the powers of law enforcement and intelligence communities, allowing them to gather and share information, detain immigrants, pursue those who cooperate with suspected terrorists, and freeze the bank accounts and financial networks of terrorist organizations.<BR><BR>

The bill was modified to include a narrower definition of “terrorism” that could limit some powers granted in the previous draft highlighted by civil rights advocates. Those powers include near-blanket rights to wiretap any communications device used by a person in any way connected to a suspected terrorist; the power to detain indefinitely an immigrant connected to an act of terrorism; and the classification of any computer hacking crime as a terrorist offense.<BR><BR>

“McCarthy all over again”<BR>

Despite that change, the newest bill still falls short of clearly defining what crimes should be considered terrorist acts, said Michael Erbschloe, vice president and analyst at technology market researcher Computer Economics. <BR><BR>

The bill lists more than 40 criminal offenses, including computer intrusion and damaging a computer, and defines those offenses as terrorism if they are “calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion...or to retaliate against government conduct.” <BR><BR>

PATRIOT bill in a nutshell<BR>

Concerns for civil liberties have softened some provisions of the original Anti-Terrorism Act, but the PATRIOT bill still has teeth. <BR><BR>

Here’s what it would do: <BR><BR>

Broaden law enforcement’s ability to gather intelligence extensively, including “roving” wiretaps and the communications of computer trespassers. <BR><BR>

But civil rights advocates worry that authorities still could:<BR>


Robert Lemos, News.Com
Tuesday, 02 October 2001

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