Privacy concerns may spur Patriot Act changes

| 10/17/2003

Republican Sen. Larry Craig, ID, wants Congress to modify parts of the USA Patriot Act or see the law die in two years, The Associated Press reported.

Changes must be made to the law if it is to be renewed in 2005, said Craig, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Patriot Act allows authorities to go before a three-judge panel and get permission to secretly search the homes of suspected terrorists. It also allows a court to authorize subpoenas of library loan records and bookstore receipts of suspected terrorists, as well as allowing law enforcement to seek "John Doe" roving wiretaps and nationwide search warrants.

Recent revisions to the law would require the FBI to demonstrate suspicion that a person is suspected of terrorism or spying before seizing library or business records, and would require the FBI to get a court order to get electronic communications from a library instead of using just an administrative subpoena.

The Patriot Act has been criticized by civil liberty and privacy organizations as being too intrusive. But the Justice Department says it has prevented a second catastrophic terrorist attack.