"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Ben Franklin
In response to 9/11, the Patriot Act was passed in a knee-jerk reaction to terrorism at home. It allowed our government to collect, investigate, and archive all of your personal information that passes through the digital ether. They have it all. For those of you thinking, well I have nothing to hide so it's fine with me, great! Please provide your email and password to all of your social media accounts so that we can monitor them for you. After you've done that go ahead and strip down to your birthday suit and go to a public park. If any of that makes you uncomfortable, it's probably because you have an intrinsic understanding of privacy. You know that you have nothing to hide, and yet you don't want people to have access to your personal life and information. So, if you have nothing to hide, why are they looking? What are they looking for? Who are they giving that information to? Is it safe? These are questions that are likely never to be answered because the NSA doesn't answer to the people. The people answer to the NSA.
The only reason we are aware of this information is because Edward Snowden risked his life and career because he felt morally obligated to tell the American people that their government was watching them. He was an IT professional working for the CIA and Obama called him a "hacker".
Obama also claimed that many other countries are doing the same thing as the US, so they aren't the ONLY bad guys. Be that as it may, he still admitted to being guilty of the accused crimes. However technically, because of the Patriot Act, they are legal actions.
We know our databases have been hacked before by someone in China releasing millions of federal employment information and material designated as classified so its not exactly safe. We also know that after this was passed, it has prevented zero terrorist attacks from happening again... as far as we know. We can't be completely sure because under the Patriot Act if you are classified as a terrorist by the US government you no longer have a right to habeas corpus (fair and speedy trial) and will be given a secret trial that you dont have to be present for in order to receive a conviction. That information is not given to the public. If that doesnt scare you because you're not a terrorist, check out the US list of terror watch groups that contains over 1 million groups including returning veterans. Domestic terrorism was redefined by the Patriot Act to mean (i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping. (some of which the US government has taken part in, but instead calls it "foreign policy.")