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Project Title:

Responding to Section 5(d) of Presidential Policy Directive 28: The Feasibility of Software to Provide Alternatives to Bulk Signals Intelligence Collection
PIN: DEPS-CSTB-14-02        

Major Unit:

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

Sub Unit: Air Force Studies Board DEPS
Computer Science & Telecommuncations Board DEPS

RSO: Shaw, Alan H.

Subject/Focus Area: Computers and Information Technology; National Security and Defense

Project Scope
A committee appointed by the National Research Council will assess "the feasibility of creating software that would allow the U.S. intelligence community more easily to conduct targeted information acquisition rather than bulk collection," as called for in section 5(d) of Presidential Policy Directive 28.  To the extent possible, it will consider the efficacy, practicality, and privacy implications of alternative software architectures and uses of information technology, and explore tradeoffs among these aspects in the context of representative "use cases."  The study will consider a broad array of communications modalities, e.g., phone, email, instant message, and so on. It will not address the legality or value of signals intelligence collection.  The study will identify and assess options and alternatives but will not issue recommendations.

Specifically, the committee will address the following:
(1)    What are a small set of representative use cases within which one can explore alternative software architectures and uses of  information technology, and consider trade-offs?
(2)    What is the current state of the software technology to support targeted information acquisition?  What are feasible and likely trajectories for future relevant software development; near, mid, and far term?  What are possible technology alternatives to bulk collection in the context of the use cases?
(3)    What are relevant criteria or metrics for comparing bulk collection to targeted collection (e.g. effectiveness, response time, cost, efficacy, practicality, privacy impacts)?
(4)    What tradeoffs arise with the technology alternatives analyzed in the context of the uses cases and criteria/metrics?
(5)    How might requirements for information collection be altered in light of this analysis?
(6)    What uncertainties are associated with the assumptions and analyses, and how might they affect the basis for decisions?

Project Duration: 11 months    

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Committee Membership
Committee Membership

 Meeting 1 - 06/16/2014
 Meeting 2 - 06/30/2014
 Meeting 3 - 08/04/2014
 Meeting 4 - 08/27/2014
 Meeting 5 - 09/08/2014
 Meeting 6 - 09/23/2014


Reports having no URL can be seen
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Bulk Collection of Signals Intelligence:Technical Options