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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Committee on Law and Justice
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

Committee on Technical and Privacy Dimensions of Information for Terrorism Prevention and Other National Goals 


Project Scope

This project will address the specific information needs of the government as it faces the challenges of terrorism prevention and threats to public health and safety that arise in the government's deployment of various forms of technology for broad access to data. Specifically, it will examine the nexus between terrorism prevention, technology, privacy and other policy issues and the implications and issues involved in deploying surveillance, data mining, and information fusion technologies. The project will develop a conceptual framework which policy makers and the public can use to consider the utility, appropriateness, and empirical validity of data generated by various forms of technology currently in use or planned for the near future. It also will examine the impact of these technologies on the ability of the Federal statistical agencies to collect accurate data from the public. In addition to the privacy and security concerns of the public, other policy issues to be considered will include the role of law enforcement in counter-terrorism and criminal investigation.


This study merges two previously approved studies: a CLAJ (DBASSE) study entitled "Information for Terrorism Prevention: Balancing the Need for Privacy and National Security" funded by the Department of Home land Security; and a CSTB (DEPS) study entitled "Policy and Technical Dimensions of Large Scale Government Use of Data Mining and Information Fusion" funded by the National Science Foundation. The spirit of this integration is that the merged study will touch on the issues described in both of the original prospectuses, but in an intellectually integrated manner.

Bureau of Transportation Statistics
Department of Homeland Security
National Center for Education Statistics
National Science Foundation
Presidents’ Circle Communications Initiative of the National Academies.

Committee Membership
WILLIAM J. PERRY, (Co-Chair) Stanford University
CHARLES M. VEST, (Co-chair), National Academy of Engineering,
W. EARL BOEBERT, Sandia National Laboratories
MICHAEL L. BRODIE, Verizon Communications
DUNCAN A. BROWN, Johns Hopkins University
FRED H. CATE, Indiana University
RUTH A. DAVID, Analytic Services, Inc.
RUTH M. DAVIS, Pymatuning Group, Inc.
WILLIAM H. DuMOUCHEL, Lincoln Technologies, Inc.
CYNTHIA DWORK, Microsoft Research
STEPHEN E. FIENBERG, Carnegie Mellon University
ROBERT J. HERMANN, Global Technology Partners, LLC
R. GIL KERLIKOWSKE, Seattle Police Department
ORIN S. KERR, George Washington University Law School
ROBERT W. LEVENSON, University of California, Berkeley
TOM M. MITCHELL, Carnegie Mellon University
TARA O’TOOLE, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
LOUISE RICHARDSON, Harvard University
BEN A. SHNEIDERMAN, University of Maryland
DANIEL J. WEITZNER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

BETTY M. CHEMERS, Committee on Law and Justice
CAROL PETRIE, Committee on Law and Justice
JULIE ANNE SCHUCK, Committee on Law and Justice
MICHAEL L. COHEN, Committee on National Statistics
HERBERT S. LIN, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board
JANICE M. SABUDA, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (through April 2008) 

Protecting Individual Privacy in the Struggle Against Terrorists: A Framework for Program Assessment (2008)

 Terrorism report cover




All U.S. agencies with counterterrorism programs that collect or "mine" personal data -- such as phone records or Web sites visited -- should be required to evaluate the programs' effectiveness, lawfulness, and impacts on privacy. A framework is offered that agencies can use to evaluate such information-based programs, both classified and unclassified. The book urges Congress to re-examine existing privacy law to assess how privacy can be protected in current and future programs and recommends that any individuals harmed by violations of privacy be given a meaningful form of redress.  

Two specific technologies are examined: data mining and behavioral surveillance. Regarding data mining, the book concludes that although these methods have been useful in the private sector for spotting consumer fraud, they are less helpful for counterterrorism because so little is known about what patterns indicate terrorist activity. Regarding behavioral surveillance in a counterterrorist context, the book concludes that although research and development on certain aspects of this topic are warranted, there is no scientific consensus on whether these techniques are ready for operational use at all in counterterrorism.




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