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The USA PATRIOT Act, an acronym for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, is a 2001 law passed in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The law, which was subsequently reauthorized in 2005, 2009, and 2011, enhances the surveillance powers of the federal government, expanding the use of wiretaps and property searches and allowing intelligence agencies greater access to electronic data. Although the PATRIOT Act passed with bipartisan support, in subsequent years, the law has been subject to widespread criticism; there have also been several legal challenges regarding the act’s potential to violate the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This entry details the passage and ...

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