The Patriot Act of 2001 and the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 have both been controversial because of their passage. The Patriot Act was passed in response to the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, and the Federal Information Security Management Act was enacted as an offshoot of the former to help secure our nations internal information, financial and citizen’s personal information. Major advances in information technology have resulted in new ethical issues necessitating the passage and implementation of these acts.
The Patriot Act of 2001 was signed in law by President George W. Bush and the key provisions were given a four-year extension by President Barrack Obama in 2011. It has been provocative from the start, with much political dissent, especially from moderates and liberals. (Lindaure,S. 2011) states “You see, contrary to rhetoric on Capitol Hill, The Patriot Act is first and foremost a weapon to bludgeon whistle blowers and political dissent.” Its intent was to help law enforcement in the gathering of information and to help regulate financial transactions as well to monitor our borders more intensely.
The Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 was written and passed to help secure information vital to the economic and national security interests for the United States. An earlier version was written as part of the Homeland Security Act. Its main goal and purpose is to improve computer and network security within the government and its contractors. The technological advances in past few years have been far and reaching. The average person cannot keep up with the dizzying pace of new and improved technological products. Criminals and terrorists continue to use the newest and most advanced technology to terrorize the public and steal from them. The 9/11 terrorists could enter the US illegally using fake passports/IDs produced with sophisticated computers and software. Secure and disposable cell phones were used to communicate with and they were financed with money laundered through financial shell organizations that used technology to hide the money.
Many very intelligent and well educated computer hackers can/have entered numerous government, private financial organizations, and public institutions and have stolen identities, technology, money, military secrets, data, and private information.
Some of the more cutting-edge technological advances that have caused the passing of these acts and the ethical issues are the introduction of Biometrics (facial/voice recognition). Increased video surveillance, which has increased by over 125% since 9/11, work place monitoring through GPS tracking, the transmitting of the location of all cellphones, blackberries, and laptops, when they are on, and database profiling through internet searches, supermarket purchases, credit card purchases, and toll booth marking.
The most pressing ethical issue is the loss of individual privacy, personal rights and freedoms. To some people the citizens’ rights have been taken away and set back over 100 years. To others it’s an act of necessity for the good and security of the nation. The detaining of illegal aliens and racial profiling has caused many to question the legal aspects of these bills. The intrusion into citizens’ personal and financial information is also a very controversial ethical issue. Many citizens’ and private organization believe that the government has over-stepped their boundaries and is leaning towards a totalitarian form of government. Feingold,R(Senator)(2001)states that “You and I have a duty to analyze, to test, to weigh new laws that the zealous and often sincere advocates of security would suggest to us”.
In conclusion, many people think that with the advances in technology that we are much safe than we were 20 years ago. This is true in many cases but is it worth the cost of many of the personal freedoms that our Constitution guarantees? The ethical issues that have arisen from these acts will be debated for many years. As long as there are criminals and terrorists there will be a need for action in the form of legislative acts and bills by the government. The safety of the nation as a whole and its private citizen is one of the primary functions of the government and there will always be dissent and division within that government and its constituents as to how it should protect them.
Lindauer S. (May 23, 2001)“The Intel Hub” retrieved from http://the intelhub.com/2011/05/23/The-patriot-act-when-truth-becomes-treason.
Feingold,R(Oct,12,2001) On opposing the U.S.A. Patriot Act by Senator Russell Feingold Retrieved from http://www.archipelago.org/vol6-2/Feingold.htm
Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Information_Security_Management_Act_of_202
Patriot Act of 2001 retrieved from http://enwikipedia.org/wiki/Patriot_Act