An analysis of electronic surveillance in the USAPATRIOT act


In the wake of September 11, 2001 Congress quickly approved a radical bill known as the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools and Resources to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act. The Patriot Act modifies fundamental aspects of criminal law and civil liberties in the United States. While many sections have provoked controversy, most of those fall within Title II, known simply as "Surveillance Provisions." Among the Title II provisions, the sections concerning pen registers and trap and trace devices are among the most significant, and yet most widely misunderstood. For that reason, Title II's pen register and trap and trace statutes are the focus of this essay. This essay systematically and chronologically evaluates each of the pen register provisions - Sections 204, 214, and 216. Each provision receives a four-part analysis: (1) What was the law prior to the Patriot Act? (2) How does that section change the law? (3) What arguments have been cited in defense of the section? (4) What objections and criticisms about the section have been raised? The purpose of this essay is to inform and educate the UCF population about the many legal implications and considerations created by the pen register provisions. The conclusion of the essay resolves to seek common ground between supporters and critics. Some aspects of the pen register statutes are found to be acceptable, while two others should be declared unconstitutional. Common ground exists. however, and the pen register provisions could be rewritten to maintain the benefits to law enforcement while minimizing concerns of abuse or infringements on civil liberties.


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Thesis Completion





Wood, Robert


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Health and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Legal Studies


Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Public Affairs; Health and Public Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic; Electronic surveillance -- Law and legislation -- United States; United States -- Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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