3. Repeal the USA PATRIOT Act
The USA PATRIOT Act and associated legislation passed after 9/11 have restricted Americans’ freedom and privacy in ways unimaginable before the September 11 attacks. Supporters of the Act claim that it has made our country safer, but there is no evidence to support the claim. It is in fact a web of espionage against Americans wrapped in a web of security theater.
Why does this matter? Studies show that people behave differently when they are being watched. They are more likely to engage in behavior that elicits public approval and refrain from behavior that might get them in trouble. Jonathan Penney, a Ph.D. candidate at Oxford discovered a “chilling effect” in a variety of Internet searches after Edward Snowden broke open the government’s metadata collection operation.
Free people should not have to worry about who is watching their Internet searches, reading their emails or listening to their telephone calls. This inhibits research and discussion into topics that might be construed as subversive or unpatriotic, even if your motivations are completely the opposite. For example, let’s say you were an Islamic-American parent interested in how Islamic-American youths are radicalized by ISIS so that you could protect your children from radicalization. Would you feel free to get on the Internet and study the phenomenon? I certainly wouldn’t. In fact, I might fear that I could be arrested and held without trial under the National Defense Authorization Act.