The USA PATRIOT Act was passed shortly after the 9/11 attack in 2001. It removed restrictions on law enforcement's use of surveillance and investigative techniques, potentially jeopardizing traditional civil liberties, privacy, and democratic traditions in the US, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
According to EFF, the PATRIOT Act allows the US government to monitor citizens' web surfing, access ISP records, wiretap citizens and their associates. The provisions of the PATRIOT Act are not limited to terrorism, only requiring that a government investigator suspect that a person is engaged in illegal activity to justify surveillance, wiretaps, and other intrusions. The PATRIOT Act makes it easier for foreign intelligence organizations to spy on Americans.
While eliminating or reducing privacy rights for citizens on the one hand, the Act creates more secrecy for government activities, making it more difficult for citizens to hold their government accountable. Under PATRIOT, government investigators are authorized to use "sneak and peek" warrants to enter private premises without the permission or knowledge of the occupant and without informing the occupant of the search in connection with any federal crime, including misdemeanors, whether or not such crimes are related to terrorism.