USA Patriot Act

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2002-09-09 Print this article Print

USA Patriot Act

Hopes remain high, though, for following terrorists footprints—not the kind left by shoes but the kind left in cyberspace by travel arrangements and other financial transactions.

The USA Patriot Act, signed into law last October, is named with a tortured acronym: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (doubly condensed to USAPA).

The USAPA itself consists largely of revisions to other laws. The burden falls on ISPs, financial institutions and other potential targets of expanded subpoena powers to understand the aggregate effect on their resulting obligations.

Individuals and enterprises should also understand the effect of USAPA on the exposure of their records, electronic communications (including voice mail) and other information assets—especially to the extent that these are handled or stored by third parties.

Enterprises and outsource providers should conduct a complete review of their respective rights and obligations, especially to the degree that their service contracts and confidentiality agreements may be vitiated by subpoenas or court orders.

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developersÔÇÖ technical requirements on the companyÔÇÖs evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter companyÔÇÖs first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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