The PATRIOT Act was quickly developed and brought into force in October 2001, in response to the 9/11 attacks.
It grants sweeping surveillance powers to U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and eliminates checks and balances that previously gave courts the opportunity to ensure that those powers were not abused.2
In 2013, whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed how the Act was being used to allow the NSA to sweep up Americans' phone records, and public outrage over this and other revelations led to the first major efforts to reform the Act, but it has continued to be reauthorized throughout the years.3
Three provisions of the USA Freedom Act of 2015 (including one granting the ability to obtain business records, which is thought to include records of browsing histories kept by internet service providers without a warrant) expired on March 15, and are due for reauthorization.4
In an effort to protect the sensitive information of internet users in the US, Senators Wyden and Daines proposed an amendment to protect Internet browsing history from warrantless searches. When this amendment failed by a single vote, Democratic support for the reauthorization bill shrank so drastically that it was pulled from voting. Now, a minority of pro-surveillance politicians are attempting to renew the provisions via conference committee, which would prevent any protections for our privacy from being included.5
Make your voice heard and protect private Internet data by messaging your Senator in the form above.