As we approach the 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, many are reflecting on what has changed not only in the US but around the world since that day. Outside of foreign policy, one of the most dramatic changes made, was laws and practices that directly impact our privacy and digital rights.
One of the most impactful legislative changes was the passing of the Patriot Act which was a rushed and reactionary response passed only 45 days after the attacks and greatly weakened privacy laws and expanded surveillance for the US intelligence agencies.
The Patriot Act gave the US government the authority to monitor your phone, email, bank, and credit information, and all your online activity without and most without the need for a warrant or judge’s approval. These are generally issued through National Security Letters (NSLs) which are issued by the FBI without a judge’s approval.