Since the Patriot Act was enacted after September 11, 2001. There has been an ongoing argument about the validity of the Patriot Act and whether or not it is a violation of civil rights. The question is how far is too far? How much intrusion will Americans allow into their lives for the sake of national security? The Patriot Act was signed into law on October 26, 2001. The Patriot Act has 16 provisions that give the government surveillance and legal powers to use against terrorists. Since 9/11, there have been no other terror attacks on American soil. Since this time has passed with no other attacks, people are starting to question whether the Patriot Act should be scaled back or whether we even need it at all. The Patriot Act addresses several new areas in surveillance. I will touch on a couple of those new provisions and what they mean.
Pen Register or Trap and Trace Orders: Currently, law enforcement agencies involved in intelligence investigations can obtain a ‘pen register’ or ‘trap and trace’ order under which they can have access to numbers dialed and received by a particular phone. In order to obtain a pen/trap order, law enforcement must show that the information they are seeking is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation and that the suspect that they are tracking is ‘in communication with’ someone involved in international terrorism or intelligence activities. This is a much lower standard than the probable cause standard used in criminal investigations. The Patriot Act reduces this standard even further, eliminating the ‘in communication with’ requirement. Law enforcement officials must simply show that the information they are seeking is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation. Under this provision, when law enforcement requests a pen/trap order from a judge, he must issue it. The judge