Privacy & Civil Liberties LogoPrivacy & Civil Liberties

Federal Authorities   >   Federal Statutes   >   USA PATRIOT Act

Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001

Pub. L. No. 107-56 (132 pp. | 486KB | PDF)

Background. The USA PATRIOT Act was enacted in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and became law less than two months after those attacks.

General Provisions. The USA PATRIOT Act modified many major U.S. intelligence, communications, and privacy laws, including: The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (EPCA ), which modifies Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act (the Wiretap Act );  the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA); and the Communications Act of 1934.

Legislative summaries provide section-by-section descriptions of the Act’s provisions:

  • the 2001 Act,
  • the 2005 reauthorizing act,
  • the 2006 amending and reauthorizing act, and
  • the 2011 four-year extension of the "lone wolf" definition, authorization of "roving wiretaps" and "request for production business records" search authority.

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Several sections of the Act emphasize the need to protect the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans and to condemn any acts of violence or discrimination.
  • Section 214 of Title II of the Act prohibits the use of pen registers and trap and trace equipment in investigations that are based solely on activities protected by the First Amendment.
  • Title X of the Act directs the Inspector General of the Department of Justice to designate an official to review allegations of civil rights or civil liberties violations, including ethnic and racial profiling.
  • The USA PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act of 2006 (8pp. | 42.6 KB | PDF) implemented  options to enhance protection of civil liberties and to permit challenges to the legality of a records production order issued by the F.B.I., including any accompanying nondisclosure order (an order prohibiting the person receiving the production order from disclosing that the FBI sought information).

Amendments. The USA PATRIOT Act has been reauthorized and amended several times since its initial enactment.
  • The USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-177 (87 pp. | 387KB | PDF)
  • The USA PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorization Amendments Act of 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-178 (6 pp. | 135KB | PDF)
  • The FISA Sunsets Extension Act of 2011, Pub. L. No. 112-3 (1pp. | 118KB | PDF)
  • The Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 3961; Pub. L. No. 111-141; Feb. 24, 2010) was the mechanism that amends the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 to extend through February 28, 2011.
  • The PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011 (S.990; Pub. L. No. 112-14; May 26, 2011) amends the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 to extend until June 1, 2015, provisions concerning roving electronic surveillance orders, requests for the production of business records and other tangible things; and amends the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 to extend until June 1, 2015, a provision revising the definition of an “agent of a foreign power” to include any non-U.S. person who engages in international terrorism or preparatory activities (the “lone wolf” provision).


Additional Resources on the USA PATRIOT Act:

Source: Page created by the DHS/Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the DHS/Privacy Office in cooperation with the DOJ, Office of Justice Programs.

 
Last date revised: 07/29/13