USA Patriot Act

Definition of 'USA Patriot Act'


A law passed shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States giving law enforcement agencies increased, broad powers to bring terrorists to justice. The USA Patriot Act is an acronym for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.

Investopedia explains 'USA Patriot Act'


Since its inception, the Patriot Act has been shrouded in controversy. Proponents of the act believe that it is a necessary evil in the face of new threats to America in the ever-changing international political climate. Civil libertarians see it as an unpatriotic means of limiting civil rights, infringing on free speech, interfering with freedom of the press and infringing on individual privacy rights.


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