Apple is one of 10 technology companies asking the White House and U.S. Congress not to renew the USA Patriot Act in its present form. The law, which was first implemented following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S., expires on June 1, unless it is renewed.
The companies, which include AOL, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo, want to see the end of the bulk collection of communications metadata. These are the logs that determine how and when people contact each other.
The concerns are drafted in an open letter to President Obama and other government officials, which says, in part:
It has been nearly two years since the first news stories revealed the scope of the United States’ surveillance and bulk collection activities. Now is the time to take on meaningful legislative reforms to the nation’s surveillance programs that maintain national security while preserving privacy, transparency, and accountability. We strongly encourage both the White House and Members of Congress to support the above reforms and oppose any efforts to enact any legislation that does not address them.
In 2014, these same companies, all members of the Global Government Surveillance Reform coalition, promoted the USA Freedom Act, which would make the bulk collection of data illegal. The act was defeated by Congress.
The USA Patriot Act was signed into law by former President George W. Bush on Oct. 28, 2001. It stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. President Obama signed the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011, a four-year extension of three key provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act.
No doubt, this issue will be actively debated in Washington and around the country as the June deadline looms. Personally, I think we should go back to the days when the government needed a warrant to collect data on persons of interest. It’s time for the U.S. government to stop snooping on all Americans in the interest of fighting terrorism.