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A short, crucial explanation of the USA Patriot Act and USA Freedom Act

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A little over a month after the events of September 11th, 2001, an Act of Congress called the USA Patriot Act was signed into law by then President George W. Bush. Despite its controversial expansion of government power pertaining to domestic surveillance, law enforcement, and border security, President Obama signed an extension of what were key provisions in 2001. That extension expired this past summer, but parts of the extension were renewed for another four years under a new name, the USA Freedom Act.

Arguments for the continuation of the Patriot Act typically pivot on the belief that citizens who aren't committing crimes have nothing to fear, but the role and impact of national government surveillance is more complex. With the USA Freedom Act in its first year, I invited The Verge's Colin Lecher to explain the original law, how it has evolved, and in what ways it could effect the average person, like you and me.

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