Category Archives: Big Data

Gathering Intelligence

Gathering Intelligence: Drifting Meaning and the Modern Surveillance Apparatus

Since its implementation in 1981, Executive Order 12,333 has served as a general charter governing the structure and operations of the Intelligence Community. While legislation has imposed a degree of added judicial and congressional oversight, the executive branch continues to retain sole discretion over large swathes of foreign intelligence activity today.

Over the past several decades, and in accordance with E.O. 12,333’s mandate, members of the Intelligence Community have each created internal agency manuals to guide their foreign intelligence operations. These manuals identify and define a range of technical terms critical to determining the scope of agencies’ intelligence-gathering authority, including what information is gathered, how long that information is retained, and the uses to which it may be put. But over time, the dispersion of authority to make decisions within and across intelligence agencies has enabled drift in the meaning of these terms. Together, the manuals have created a thicket of often conflicting and unclear definitions that are difficult for Congress, the courts, and even committees within the executive branch to understand.

In this article, Diana Lee, Paulina Perlin, and Joe Schottenfeld provide the first sustained analysis of these definitional inconsistencies, their consequences, and efforts to address the problem from within and outside the executive branch. In particular, it focuses on three terms that determine when the intelligence cycle “officially” begins: “collection,” “acquisition,” and “targeting.” By analyzing these three terms, this Article demonstrates the lack of clarity that executive discretion and dispersal create. This lack of clarity, in turn, makes it difficult for meaningful oversight, such as congressional hearings, to occur. The Article concludes by offering recommendations to clarify the parameters of the government’s intelligence-gathering authority. As technological advancements continue to expand the Intelligence Community’s capacity to gather information, it is imperative that the government adopt measures to facilitate effective oversight over the executive’s foreign intelligence operations.

Sovereign Immunity

Sovereign Immunity in Cyber Space: Towards Defining a Cyber-Intrusion Exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act

In light of recent foreign cyber-assaults that have jeopardized personal privacy in the United States, it is time for individuals to explore opportunities for private suits against foreign governments. In the first attempt to do this, Doe v. Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the courts found that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act barred suit under the Wiretap Act’s private cause of action and the common law tort of intrusion upon seclusion. Kurland posits that either a new exception should be added to the FSIA to ameliorate this legal lacuna.

Equifax hack

Equi-Failure: The National Security Implications of the Equifax Hack and a Critical Proposal for Reform

By McKay Smith & Garrett Mulrain

The Equifax hack, which impacted nearly half of the U.S. population, should be viewed as a triggering event for worthwhile government reform and increased public-private cooperation, creating a model that is both scalable and adaptable to multiple industries. Framed by the Equifax data breach, McKay Smith and Garrett Mulrain focus the reader on the national security implications of attacks on the American consumer economy, perpetrated by cybercriminals and hostile nation states. This article provides a detailed analysis of government oversight efforts and contains a novel and creative proposal for reform, intended to serve as a blueprint for widespread, whole-of-government action. In a pragmatic call for reform, Smith and Mulrain recommend seven concrete steps that government can take to demonstrate a renewed commitment to protecting its data, and the data of its private citizens, from malicious foreign adversaries.

Equi-failure: The National Security Implications of the Equifax Hack and a Critical Proposal for Reform