It has been almost fourteen years since the tragic attacks of September 11th, and Congress’ subsequent passing of the Patriot Act. It is no secret that the massive surveillance mechanism and bulk collection of Americans’ information – which officially expired Sunday night – has been a blatant violation of the Constitution and of our civil liberties. Despite 74% of Americans saying that they should not have to surrender privacy and freedom for safety, a recent Pew Research Center report demonstrates that a plurality of Americans do not believe that the government has done enough to combat terrorist threats – threats which President Obama recently warned about when declaring that the Patriot Act’s expiration could have severe consequences. Still, it is probable that Congress will (technically) scale back the Patriot Act with the new “USA Freedom Act,” an ironic, yet typical name for a piece of legislation that in reality does just about anything but protect American freedom. The fact that both President Obama and Speaker John Boehner support the bill shows that this “rollback” of the Patriot Act is all for show. The USA Freedom Act is the Patriot Act’s nearly identical twin. The White House even admitted that the new legislation still grants strong powers to the government that will “eliminate unnecessary risk to our national security.” Though phone companies – and not the NSA – would now be responsible for collecting all of Americans’ private phone and internet information, the government will have little trouble accessing the data. In addition, the surveillance regime that was exposed by Edward Snowden will be largely intact. It looks like we can all take comfort in knowing that big brother will still be watching. 

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