I am not a fan of the Patriot Act, as you can see here. The Times has an editorial about the next rev of the act, many parts of which are due for renewal this Fall. The first act redefined many key legal terms so as to make your search history and the like far more susceptible to government snooping without notification, but this second rev sounds scarier. From the editorial:
One of the most common complaints about the Patriot Act is that rather than addressing the real but narrow problems with existing law, it was a wish list of powers law enforcement officials had yearned for over the years that Congress had rightly resisted conferring. Now the Bush administration and its Senate allies have come up with another: a proposal to let F.B.I. agents write their own “administrative subpoenas,” without the need to consult prosecutors or judges, in demand of all manner of records, from business to medical and tax data. There is no serious evidence that agents have been hamstrung by the lack of such wide authority.
Freeing agents from getting a judge’s sign-off is an invitation to overreaching and abuse, as is a proposal to let the F.B.I. ignore postal law restraints when antiterrorism agents choose to monitor someone’s letter envelopes and package covers.
Hell, it’s not the post office we should be worried about, it’s Google Desktop and its ilk. Remember my ephemeral to eternal riff? Uh huh.