The Patriot Act scares me for a number of reasons.
The first reason is that it allows for too much secrecy in the justice system. The justice system has always been fairly open. For example, if you are being searched, it must be approved by someone as a damn good reason and you have a right to know what that reason is. And if it turns out that the system is being abused, you have a way to contest it. And abuses are found all the time. But the Patriot act allows for a huge amount of secrecy in many aspects of criminal investigations. And with that kind of secrecy, there is simply no check on abuse.
Not only does the Patirot Act allow for massive indiscriminate secret surviellance, but it takes away the safegaurds that keep us from ever knowing should that survillence get out of hand- much less ways of contesting it. I really don’t like the idea of huge branches of the government secretly acting on citizens without having to have a reason and without having any way to check on what they are actually doing.
I generally make it a policy not to support giving the government any powers that I wouldn’t want to have, say, Hitler to have. We can’t count on our government always being benevolent, and if someone evil is going to be doing stuff, we shouldn’t lay out the red legal carpet that would make their nefarious plans easier.
My second worry is that the Patriot Act is not at all targeted towards terrorists. Many of the computer related aspects of it are clearly about copy right enforcment prosecution (which I consider the biggest threat to freedom today). The major intellectual property interests have demonstrated quite well that they wish to control the flow of information and are willing to seek absolute control of individual’s computers to get that. It’s a bad scene.
It seems like it could also be used to target protest movements, student groups and others that question the government’s actions. In secret. bad scene.
Yup, I’m scared.