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Wikipedia Vs the Patriot Act

Essay by   •  December 12, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,387 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,640 Views

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The most used website for general facts on a seemingly endless number of topics is Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia, but is not to be used as a major source. The encyclopedia has many flaws that can affect its credibility. Since anyone can edit Wikipedia it means anyone can decide what is true and not true. With further investigation I have found a few pros and cons of Wikipedia. The Patriot Act is a topic that most Americans have interest in. Like many topics, Wikipedia's info relating to The Patriot Act is generally descriptive, but not necessarily completely accurate. Since one must verify the credibility of the source, additional research beyond Wikipedia must be done.

Title II: Enhancing Security procedures

Wikipedia stated that Title II which deals with the problem of enhancing security procedures is the most controversial aspect of the USA Patriot Act. The Enhanced Surveillance Procedures were created to prevent terrorism. Wikipedia mentions all aspects of the surveillance of suspected terrorists like those suspected of engaging in computer fraud or abuse and agents of a foreign power who are engaged in illegal activities. The title allows government agencies to gather "foreign intelligence information" from both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens. FISA changed its initial purpose of surveillance to gathering and sharing foreign intelligence information. Wikipedia also vaguely mentions a few facts about wiretapping and miscellaneous provisions. In my opinion, Wikipedia's info on this subject was not very sufficient.

Wikipedia was accurate but not detailed enough, especially in respect to wiretapping. The online encyclopedia mentioned that the second title was the most controversial aspect of the Patriot act, but never went into detail about why this is so. Other sources are more in-depth. According to Sharron Rackow from the Pennsylvania Law review wire-tapping is not considered a new form of technology. Wiretapping has been around since the beginning of telegraphic communications. The article goes into more detail about telephones being first tapped in the 1890s. The article states that certain methods are used when it comes to spying. The first is "bugging" which the use of a radio transmitter (Rackow). Another popular method of electronic eavesdropping is the use of a phone tap. A phone conversation can be heard through a wire being connecting to a phone line at another location. More specific methods of phone tapping are consensual overhear, pen register, and the "trap and trace" method (Rackow). In order to protect the rights of citizens, law officials have established laws to regulate this practice. The Electronic surveillance law in the United States is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act ("ECPA"). It is designed to regulate domestic surveillance; and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 ("FISA"), which is designed to regulate foreign intelligence gathering (Rackow). After reviewing sources other than Wikipedia it is clear that the The Patriot Act is much more associated with surveillance, and the controversy surrounding surveillance was much greater.

The most recent electronic surveillance legislation is the USA Patriot Act, which has expanded the powers of FISA (Rackow). Put into effect in October of 2001, it gave increased power to law enforcement. This eliminates some of the checks and balances that were originally put into place by the U.S. government. The Patriot Act has also made it possible for information to be shared between various government agencies. The FBI, CIA and other government agencies were being criticized by American citizens after the September 11th attacks(Rackow). People asked questions relating to whether the attacks could have been avoided, if intelligence had been sharing information from the beginning, for example. With the passing of the Patriot Act, government agencies have increased their communication efforts among agencies (Rackow). In doing so, this has helped to avoid future terrorist attacks. Had I only researched through Wikipedia, I would not have known this. Wikipedia did not have nearly as much information as expected from a scholarly source. It explained the topic vaguely, with enough information to understand it in a very basic sense. The scholarly articles that I found helped me understand most aspects of The Patriot Act. This is the main difference that I have found between Wikipedia and scholarly sources. Wikipedia does not offer a variety of perspectives on the topics that it presents. Having not knowing much about this



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