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Project Title:

Technical and Privacy Dimensions of Information for Terrorism Prevention and Other National Goals
PIN: LJXX-I-04-02-A        

Major Unit:

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

Sub Unit: DBASSE Committee on Law and Justice
DEPS Computer Science & Telecommuncations Board

RSO: Chemers, Betty

Subject/Focus Area:

Project Scope
This study 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 study 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 in 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 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.

Specific tasks are likely to include:

1. Examine surveillance, data mining, and information fusion technologies to determine what technological standards for implementation exist and what steps will need to be taken to develop a stronger empirical grounding for these technologies; examine the feasibility of employing these technologies, and the practical issues they present in both a research and field application; consider the information quality issues as they relate to conclusions drawn using data mining and information fusion technologies. This task will include an assessment of the potential impact of data mining and information fusion technologies on the statutory assurance of confidentiality for data collected by Federal statistical agencies and precautions that might be taken to mitigate any negative impact.

2. Examine available and emerging surveillance technologies and the viability of different algorithms to support surveillance activity. Building on the London experience and other applications of emerging surveillance technologies, examine data accuracy and utility as well as the legal issues and privacy concerns arising from their implementation. Consider the compatibility or lack thereof between surveillance data and data mining and information fusion technologies.

3. Assess privacy and other issues affecting cooperation among government and private organizations involved in data collection, sharing, and analysis (including the use of data mining and information fusion technologies). Consider a range of organizational arrangements (as they may affect both security and privacy concerns) for accessing data repositories and sharing information within and across government, between the Federal government and state and local agencies, and between the government and the private sector.

4. Assess research on public attitudes regarding privacy and security from government efforts in counter-terrorism, public health, and law enforcement. Examine the effects on privacy concerns of the development of new identification, surveillance, and analytical technologies for use in public spaces. To the extent possible, sample public opinion regarding personal and collective security and personal privacy to develop a better understanding of the difference between the "expert" view and the public's view on the balance between terrorism security needs and privacy. Engage the public and the privacy advocacy community in a dialog on these issues.

The approximate start date for the project is September 15, 2004

The project is sponsored by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Presidents’ Circle Communications Initiative of the National Academies .

A report will be produced at the end of the project.

Note: The project duration has been extended and the report is expected to be issued by November 2007

Update 1-31-08: The project duration has been extended. The report is expected to be issued by July 1, 2008.

Update 3-12-09: The final report, entitled "Protecting Individual Privacy in the Stuggle Against Terrorists: A Framework for Program Assessement" was delivered in late 2008.

Project Duration: 18 months    

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Committee Membership
Committee Membership

 Meeting 1 - 08/11/2005
 Meeting 2 - 04/27/2006
 Meeting 3 - 07/27/2006
 Meeting 4 - 10/26/2006
 Meeting 5 - 01/18/2007
 Meeting 6 - 03/29/2007


Reports having no URL can be seen
at the Public Access Records Office
Protecting Individual Privacy in the Struggle Against Terrorists: A Framework for Program Assessment