Threatening Civil Rights: An Analysis of Government Neo-Surveillance Powers

William P. Bloss, The Citadel

ABSTRACT
Recent federal legislation has reshaped citizen privacy rights and safeguards against government intrusion. Under the aegis of protection against criminal victimization and terrorist act, these changes have rendered citizens more vulnerable to government surveillance and intrusion as some constitutional safeguards are dismantled. This paper examines the emergence of neo-surveillance and expanded search powers given to government through federal statutes and procedures. Such legislation as the Patriot Act and others has changed in the scope of citizen defense against government intrusion into private financial transaction, information sharing, and communication. The findings suggest that the recent enhancement of government surveillance powers has fueled a trend of eroding constitutional protection. While these statutes propose to protect society from victimization, they may ultimately create a more fertile ground for government abuse of civil rights.

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Updated 05/20/2006