Most of the controversy surrounding the Patriot Act pertains to the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens from improper search and seizure on behalf of the government. Under the act, government officials may search or survey students without their knowledge or obtaining a court order.
The Patriot Act was passed in response to the 9-11 attacks. It is intended to help government officials deter terrorism. Critics of the act, however, argue that it gives the government unrestricted power over citizens' privacy. Under the Patriot Act, authorities may examine records pertaining to citizens' activities, finances, work, etc. without the knowledge of citizens. It may also, under some circumstances, search private property without obtaining a warrant.
Officials may also secretly gain intelligence on your conversations by tapping your home, phone, computer or other devices. Prior to the Patriot Act, authorities were permitted to do this only if the purpose of wire tapping was to gain information about foreign intelligence. The Patriot Act also expanded the amount and type of information that authorities are allowed to gather on regular citizens. With some of the changes to the Fourth amendment, in those cases where authorities do still need to obtain a warrant, they do not have to specify what is to be included in the warrant.