Surveillance Under the USA/PATRIOT Act
In the aftermath of September 11, Congress passed an overnight revision of the country’s surveillance laws, known as the “USA/Patriot Act,” which greatly expanded the government’s authority to spy on its own citizens while drastically reducing checks and balances, such as judicial oversight.
Why Congress passed the Patriot Act
The Patriot Act made most of the changes to surveillance law that had been on law enforcement’s wish list for years, and many of the provisions have nothing to do with terrorism. Congress acted without making any careful or systematic effort to determine whether flaws in our surveillance laws had contributed to the attacks.
The Patriot Act increases the government’s power to spy in four areas
The Patriot Act expands the government’s ability to search personal and private property, as well as a narrow exception to the Fourth Amendment for foreign intelligence information and another Fourth Amendment exception for spying on communications’ origin and destination.
1. Expanded access to personal records held by third parties
The Patriot Act makes it easier for authorities to gain access to records of citizens’ activities by removing the requirement that the FBI demonstrate reasonable suspicion that the records are related to criminal activity. All the government needs to do is make a broad assertion that the request is related to an ongoing terrorism or foreign intelligence investigation.
2. More secret searches
The Patriot Act amends the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure in an unconstitutional way, allowing the government to enter a house, apartment, or office with a search warrant while the occupants are away, a new “sneak and peek” power that can be used in normal criminal investigations.
3. Expansion of the intelligence exception in wiretap law
When the purpose of a search is to gather foreign intelligence, a 1978 law called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act created an exception to the requirement for probable cause. The Patriot Act changes the law to allow searches when “a significant purpose” is intelligence.
4. Expansion of the “pen register” exception in wiretap law
Pen register/trap and trace searches are wiretaps limited to the content or meaning of a communication. The Patriot Act broadens the pen register exception in two ways. First, orders issued by a judge are no longer valid only in that judge’s jurisdiction, but can be made valid anywhere in the United States.
The erosion of accountability
The House Judiciary Committee demanded answers from the Department of Justice about how it was implementing the Patriot Act, and the Bush/Ashcroft Justice Department refused to answer many important questions and classified others without justification. In short, the Bush Administration is undermining not only judicial oversight of government spying on citizens, but also accountability.
The Patriot Act empowers the Director of Central Intelligence to identify domestic intelligence requirements, as well as creating a new crime of “domestic terrorism,” which exposes anyone who provides lodging or assistance to such “terrorists” to surveillance or prosecution. It also allows non-citizens to be detained indefinitely.
What does the Patriot Act suggest?
The goal of the USA Patriot Act is to deter and punish terrorist acts in the US and around the world.
What is Section 215 of the Patriot Act?
Section 215 is best known as the law that the intelligence community used to conduct mass surveillance of Americans’ telephone records, a program that two federal courts of appeals found to be likely illegal, but it also has other, largely secret uses.
What is Section 326 of the Patriot Act?
The proposed regulation specifies recordkeeping procedures that must be included in a bank’s CIP. Section 326 of the Act requires reasonable procedures for maintaining records of the information used to verify a person’s name, address, and other identifying information.
What types of actions were authorized by the USA Patriot Act?
Financial institutions must establish anti-money laundering programs that include, at a minimum, the development of internal policies, procedures, and controls, the appointment of a compliance officer, ongoing employee training, and an independent audit function to test programs.
How did the Patriot Act affect American citizens?
The Patriot Act was the first of many changes to surveillance laws that made it easier for the government to spy on ordinary Americans by expanding the authority to monitor phone and email communications, collect bank and credit reporting records, and more. It was hastily passed 45 days after 9/11 in the name of national security.
What is the Patriot Act in simple terms?
The USA Patriot Act is a law passed in the United States that gives law enforcement more powers in order to prevent terrorist attacks and requires the financial industry to report various suspicious customer behaviors in order to combat terrorism-related money laundering.
Is the Patriot Act still in effect in 2020?
The renewal of the Patriot Act was included in the stop-gap legislation in November 2019. The expired provisions required renewal by March 15, 2020, and the Senate passed a 77-day extension in March 2020, but the House of Representatives did not pass the legislation before the March 27, 2020 recess.
How does the Patriot Act violate the Constitution?
Section 215 of the Patriot Act violates the Constitution in several ways: it violates the Fourth Amendment, which states that the government cannot conduct a search without first obtaining a warrant and demonstrating probable cause to believe the person has committed or will commit a crime.
Was the Patriot Act an executive order?
Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, President Bush issued an executive order and Congress passed the USA Patriot Act, which prohibits financial transactions with terrorists and terrorist organizations.
Does the Patriot Act require two forms of ID?
When an applicant applies for a VA loan, the Patriot Act requires the VA mortgage home loan originator to collect and verify two forms of identification.
What is the CIP rule?
The CIP rule requires a bank to keep the identifying information obtained about a customer at the time of account opening for five years after the account is closed, or five years after the account is closed or becomes dormant in the case of credit card accounts.
How does the Patriot Act affect banking?
The Patriot Act’s Impact on Banking Under the Patriot Act, banks are required to change the way they handle control, savings, and loan accounts, as well as prevent money laundering, which affects anyone who signs up for or owns a bank account.
What is Title 2 of the Patriot Act?
Title II covers all aspects of the surveillance of suspected terrorists, computer fraud or abuse suspects, and foreign intelligence agents engaged in clandestine activities (spying).
What information is required of all banks to collect according to the USA Patriot Act?
We will ask for your name, physical address, date of birth, and other information that will allow us to identify you when you open an account, and we may also ask to see your driver’s license or other identifying documents.
Who is responsible for filling in the Patriot Act form?
If your borrower is signing a set of loan documents that includes a PATRIOT Act form (a form that the signing agent fills out to confirm the borrower’s identity), an unexpired ID is required.