We Must Regain Our Lost Civil Liberties Essay

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With our nation’s tragedy of September 11, 2001, arose a deeply shaken America, shocked by the extent of the cruelty. An act of terrorism of that magnitude had never been seen before in our country. Patriots quickly came together, supporting the president to pass legislation, known as the USA Patriot Act, to tackle internal and external threats to this nation. The debate ensued, focused on which types of surveillance technology should or shouldn't be allowed for arresting terrorists. However, the question remains as to how these devices are going to be used, and how personally are those who use them held accountable. The purpose of this paper is to confirm that the proposed monitoring and archiving of users’ information on…show more content…
One of the laws included in the Patriot Act is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act or ECPA. The ECPA is used to monitor and retain information while intercepting “….email and other electronic communications…” and specifies the government’s access to this type of information (The USA Patriot Act, 2005, p.4). One difference between the ECPA and other laws included in this Act is probable cause. The ECPA does not mandate probable cause, thus posing serious privacy violations with the use of trap and trace devices. According to Gerdes, in the book, “The Patriot Act,” a trap and trace device is described as “a device which captures the incoming electronic or other impulses which identify the originating number of an instrument or device from which a wire or electronic communication was transmitted” (Gerdes, 2005, p.119). The trap and trace information, which is tailored to electronic communication, can only be relevant during court proceedings when an attorney provides a judicial certification before the installation (The USA Patriot Act, 2005, p. 5). According to the ACLU, the trap and trace devices monitor all electronic communication and to perform this type of surveillance the government only needs to show probable cause (National Security, n.d.). The issue of our privacy rights has definitely been influenced since 9/11, we have all been affected and at the height of all the terror and fear, our absent civil liberties simply went unnoticed.

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