Along with the vehement development of technologies the ways for committing crimes become more sophisticated as well as the targets and their realization become more accessible. The main goals of law enforcement units are to investigate the crimes and bring the criminals to justice on the one hand and to prevent the society from being a victim of crimes on the other. The methods of crime investigation are powerfully supported by new computer techniques, more full and detailed databases which make the investigation and prevention of crimes against individuals, groups of individuals and their property more successful. The positive effect of these advanced tools is disputable as in conjunction with its potentialities it strongly affects some human rights of the individuals. Typical examples we may find in the USA Patriotic Act and the domestic violence laws.
The USA Patriotic Act was signed by the President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001 as an immediate Act of the Congress following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 as well as the anthrax attacks carried out the same year. In its nature, The USA Patriotic Act could not be quite a new document due to the limited time but a compilation of existing laws and several already introduced and rejected by the Congress several times. Coming into force, it introduced a number of changes to US key acts as Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA); Money Laundering Control Electronic Communication Privacy Act (ECPA); Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and Immigration Nationality Act. The broadened authorities of the law enforcement units immediately appeared a wave of objections and criticism on the part of the opponents mainly connected with the uncontrolled bu court expansion of searches and investigation. Those critics lead to the removal of many provisions of the Act in July 2005 when the Senate passed a new bill with substantial changes in the authorization that did not satisfy the senators of both Republican and Democratic parties concerning the neglect of civil liberties.
The dissatisfaction with the USA Patriotic Act continues and today. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in the article Surveillance Under the USA Patriot Act, Dec.10, 2010 underlined the absence of systematic or careful effort to determine the reasons that contributed to the attacks whether it was the weakness in the existing surveillance laws and would the changes accepted would prevent further attacks. They stated that most of the Act’s provisions had no relationship with terrorism and only increased the Government’s surveillance power in almost every area of life such as secret searches, record searches, intelligence searches, “trap and trace” searches. By their opinion that leads to expanded access to someone’s personal records held by third parties as doctors, internet providers, etc. to show the records of their customers and clients violating the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. That happened with the permitted by the Act secret searches without any notification of the subjects, depriving them of the possibility to object. Another confusing argument is the possibility to search or wire citizen without proving probable cause.
Despite the discussed disadvantages of The USA Patriot Act, it has many advantages. The most important one is the establishment of uniform database collector which allows the crime investigation to be performed over the entire country’s territory which makes possible to obtain the big picture of the committed crimes. Domestic violence was considered as a global problem. The world statistics reports that one of every three women has been a victim of domestic violence. The Governmental definition applied for the purposes of title 42, U. S. Code says:
“The term ‘domestic violence’ includes felony or misdemeanor crimes committed by a current or former spouse of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from the person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.” (U. S. Code, Title 42, Chapter 136, Subchapter III)
Domestic violence includes sexual, verbal, economic, emotional and physical abuse. According to research, women are more often a subject to domestic violence than men. The Bureau of justice statistics published a report in 1995 which showed that women are subjected to domestic violence six times more than men. Domestic violence is considered as one of the most widespread crimes and the great variety of programs to protect and help the victims. It has negative impact over the everyday social and economic life of the individuals causing the aggravation of their personal and social life. The public awareness of the problem was awoken by a study on incidents in 1970, followed by other statistics that lead to legal actions against police departments to induce them to make arrests in domestic violence cases. Most police departments responded to the demands of the society. The U. S. Congress has passed two significant laws to fight the domestic violence. The first one was the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which created punishments for definite crimes and gave birth to programs aiding prevention of violence and helping victims.
The law expanded over the years and provided more programs and services in the communities, helped in funding victims’ assistance services as rape crisis centers, provided legal aid for survivors of violence, created programs and services for victims with disabilities as many other initiatives. The National advisory Committee joint efforts with the U. S. Department of Justice and the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services to fight and end violence against women. These efforts include the Community Checklist initiative attempts to assure every community was provided with domestic violence programs and the Toolkit to stop the violence against women.
The Family Violence Prevention and services Act (FVPSA) provides the appreciable federal funding to programs helping the people affected by domestic violence and their dependents like children. The funding provides shelters and relevant help, offers activities addressed the prevention of violence and strives to improve the way service agencies work together in communities. The National Domestic Violence Hotline together with the National Domestic Violence Helpline are significant technical achievements which help the victims of domestic violence by all tools, advices and instructions they need to find shelter, support and legal aid in all cases of domestic violence. The lines work close to the police departments, health and human services and provide substantial and effective help to the impecunious. The discussed above topics related to the impact of new technologies, computer tools and policies show that the development of all aspects of our life brings new challenges to the legal system and the related authorities.
ACLU, Surveillance Under the USA Patriot Act, American Civil Liberties Union, Web
Family Violence Prevention and Service Act, authorized as part of Child abuse Amendments of 1984
(Pl 98 – 457)
Violence Against Women Act, Pub. L 103 – 322, Web
The USA Patriot Act, H. R. 3162, Public Law 107 - 56
The United States Code, Web www.uscode.house.gov/search/criteria.shtml