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News Link • Surveillance

Myths and Realities About the Patriot Act

Myth: The Patriot Act simply updated the tools of law enforcement to match the technology used by the terrorists and criminals today. Reality: The Patriot Act “updated” surveillance powers but failed to “update” the checks and balances needed to ensure those surveillance powers include proper judicial oversight. Section 206 of the Patriot Act allows the government to obtain “roving wiretaps” without empowering the court to make sure that the government ascertain that the conversations being intercepted actually involve a target of the investigation. “Pen registers” and “trap and trace” devices are also allowed and track detailed information about Internet use, like specific web pages viewed or search terms entered into a search engine.

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