Recommendation 1. U.S. government agencies should be required to follow a systematic process (such as the one described in the framework proposed in Chapter 2) to evaluate the effectiveness, lawfulness, and consistency with U.S. values of every information-based program, whether classified or unclassified, for detecting and countering terrorists before it can be deployed, and periodically thereafter. Under most circumstances, this evaluation should be required as a condition for deployment of information-based counterterrorism programs, but periodic evaluation and continual improvement should always be required when such programs are in use. The committee believes that the framework presented in Chapter 2 defines an appropriate process for this purpose.

Periodically after a program has been operationally deployed, and in particular before a program enters a new phase in its life cycle, policy makers should apply a framework such as the one proposed in Chapter 2 to the program before allowing it to continue operations or to proceed to the next phase. Consistency with relevant laws and regulations, and impact on individual privacy and civil liberties—as well as validity, effectiveness, and technical performance—should be rigorously assessed. Such review is especially necessary given that the committee found little evidence of any effective evaluation performed for current programs intended to detect terrorist activity by automated analysis of databases. (If such evidence does exist, it should be presented in the appropriate oversight forums as part of such review.) Periodic review may result in significant modification of a program or even its cancellation.

Any information-based counterterrorism program of the U.S. government should be subjected to robust, independent oversight. All three branches of government have important roles to play to ensure that such programs adhere to relevant laws. All such programs should provide meaningful redress to any individuals inappropriately harmed by their operation.

To protect the privacy of innocent people, the research and development of any information-based counterterrorism program should be conducted with synthetic population data. If and when a program meets the criteria for deployment in the committee’s illustrative framework described in Chapter 2, it should be deployed only in a carefully phased manner, e.g., being field tested and evaluated at a modest number of sites before being scaled up for general use. At all stages of a phased deployment, data about individuals should be rigorously subjected to the full safeguards of the framework.


Recommendation 2. The U.S. government should periodically review the nation’s laws, policies, and procedures that protect individuals’ private



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement