(On a side note, the statute's full title is the USA PATRIOT Act, which stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. Say what you will about The Man, you gotta admit he has a way with the acronyms.)
Among the many criticisms of the Act is its expansion of the powers of the federal government, making possible the much more liberal application of certain technologies for digital surveillance. Examples of these technologies include Carnivore, an FBI-designed computer system which plugs into an ISP network and intercepts and records digital communications, and Magic Lantern, a keylogging software that is a combination worm/trojan which installs itself in a target PC and captures keystrokes.
The threat of technology being used to invade privacy has particular relevance in this country where, despite the Bill of Rights and the wiretapping and surveillance rules in RA 4200, digital snoopers continue to display a fine disregard for the niceties of privacy in communications. (Does the name Garci ring a bell?)
Add to that a government accustomed to the disregard of civil liberties, and a public inured to the violation of their rights; throw in a general lack of technological savvy and an ignorance of the implications of digital connectivity. Voila! "Scandals" abound and privacy rights in an electronic context are reduced to mere recitations of what-should-be.
Which brings me to my point. Privacy rights, like all others, are dependent on the education of the holders of the rights for their enforcement. A right which you don't even know you have is a right only in name. And until the Philippine public is made fully aware of these things, privacy in information and communications technologies is a shadow puppet, an illusion of form without substance. I can't even begin to imagine what would happen should our government (or our less scrupulous countrymen) gain access to the tools allowed under the Patriot Act. I might have to give up Facebook. Damn.