The USA PATRIOT Act expanded law enforcement authority to utilize trap and trace and pen register devices. Previously, statute only referred to the collection of numbers dialed on a telephone line and the originating number of a telephone call. However the new language significantly increases the scope of a pen register as “a device or process which records or decodes dialing, routing, addressing or signaling information transmitted by an instrument or facility from which a wire or electronic communication is transmitted” and the scope of a trap and trace device has been expanded to “a device or process which captures the incoming electronic or other impulses which identify the originating number or other dialing, routing, addressing, and signaling information reasonably and likely to identify the source or a wire or electronic communication” (Epic.org, USA PATRIOT Act). This broad language allows law enforce...
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...n only on the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights (Epic.org, USA PATRIOT Act). However, in 2015 this section would end with the passage of the USA Freedom Act. Additionally, the USA Freedom act ended the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of data from phone records of millions of Americans (Jacoby, 2015).
In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks there was an urgency to prevent such atrocities from occurring again. However, many aspects of the USA PATRIOT Act created with this purpose failed to address the necessary checks and balances on law enforcement to protect civil liberties protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. In subsequent years, elected officials have realized some of these shortcomings of the USA PATRIOT Act and have begun to reign in some of the powers granted to law enforcement.
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