Friday, January 17, 2014

Principles of e-spying

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

I read the whole 308 pages of "Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies"  I must say, I'm impressed.  They did a very good job.  The best part was in the preface where they outline the guiding principles, which are never mentioned in the mass media, yet which are the most important thing of all.  They are brief, completely non-sensational, and very true, please read them.

We suggest careful consideration of the following principles:

1. The United States Government must protect, at once, two different forms of security: national security and personal privacy.
In the American tradition, the word “security” has had multiple meanings. In contemporary parlance, it often refers to national security or homeland security. One of the government’s most fundamental responsibilities is to protect this form of security, broadly understood. At the same time, the idea of security refers to a quite different and equally fundamental value, captured in the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated . . . ” (emphasis added). Both forms of security must be protected.

2. The central task is one of risk management; multiple risks are involved, and all of them must be considered.
When public officials acquire foreign intelligence information, they seek to reduce risks, above all risks to national security. The challenge, of course, is that multiple risks are involved. Government must consider all of those risks, not a subset, when it is creating sensible safeguards. In addition to reducing risks to national security, public officials must consider four other risks:
• Risks to privacy;
• Risks to freedom and civil liberties, on the Internet and elsewhere;
• Risks to our relationships with other nations; and
• Risks to trade and commerce, including international commerce.

3. The idea of “balancing” has an important element of truth, but it is also inadequate and misleading.
It is tempting to suggest that the underlying goal is to achieve the right “balance” between the two forms of security. The suggestion has an important element of truth. But some safeguards are not subject to balancing at all. In a free society, public officials should never engage in surveillance in order to punish their political enemies; to restrict freedom of speech or religion; to suppress legitimate criticism and dissent; to help their preferred companies or industries; to provide domestic companies with an unfair competitive advantage; or to benefit or burden members of groups defined in terms of religion, ethnicity, race, and gender.
4. The government should base its decisions on a careful analysis of consequences, including both benefits and costs (to the extent feasible).
In many areas of public policy, officials are increasingly insistent on the need for careful analysis of the consequences of their decisions, and on the importance of relying not on intuitions and anecdotes, but on evidence and data. Before they are undertaken, surveillance decisions should depend (to the extent feasible) on a careful assessment of the anticipated consequences, including the full range of relevant risks. Such decisions should also be subject to continuing scrutiny, including retrospective analysis, to ensure that any errors are corrected.

Tomorrow: E-Spying The Remedy?

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