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2 Mar, 2010 03:46

Patriot Act extended without privacy protections

President Obama, this weekend, signed a one-year extension to several provisions of the Patriot Act – the main counter-terrorism law in the US allowing spying on Americans and seizing personal records and private data.

The sections of the Act that stay in force will authorize court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones, allow court-approved seizure of records and property in anti-terrorism operations and permit surveillance against so-called lone wolves, non-US citizens engaged in terrorism who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group, according to Associated Press news agency.

There were no changes to protect civil liberties as demanded by liberals and some in Obama’s Democratic Party.

RT's Lucy Kafanov says that while Democrats attacked the law during the Bush era, some have changed their tune under Obama.

“The controversy is that it’s the Democrats who passed this thing without so much as a whisper of protest. For years we heard the Democrats rallying against the Patriot Act as the very antithesis of democracy and all of the civil liberties that America stands for,” Lucy Kafanov says. “We heard so much about how the Patriot Act is less about fighting the war on terror and more about unchecked police surveillance and wiretapping and illegal searches of homes and offices of private American citizens. And so, to have this thing passed without any sort of debate on the Senate floor… I mean, you go back to campaign events even from 2006 and beforehand – this was a key point of many Democrats who talked about how they wanted to change the Patriot Act and take away some of these controversial provisions.”