NEW YORK, NY—The Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security in the Information Age said today that the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 contains important information sharing provisions that will help enhance security as well as civil liberties protections. The legislation calls for the creation of a decentralized, distributed and coordinated information sharing environment that would support better terrorism information sharing between agencies with built-in safeguards for civil liberties. The provisions largely mirror the recommendations put forward by the Task Force on the creation of a trusted information sharing capability.
“Information is key to protecting our country from future terrorist attacks and the information sharing provisions in the Intelligence Reform Act will fundamentally alter how information is used to facilitate better and faster decision-making at all levels of government,” said Zoë Baird, president of the Markle Foundation and co-chair of the Task Force. “This legislation, once signed into law by the President, along with the Executive Orders on information sharing issued by the White House in August, can help enhance our security by allowing local law enforcement agents, intelligence analysts and senior policy makers to make sense of all of the information available and ‘better connect the dots.’ It will also enhance civil liberties by mandating that new privacy protections be built into the system from the start.”
The Markle Task Force consists of leading national security experts from five administrations, as well as widely recognized experts on technology and on civil liberties. Over the last several years, the Task Force’s work has broken new ground on how technology and policy can be used together to enhance security and privacy. The Task Force’s latest report, Creating a Trusted Information Network for Homeland Security, details the necessary elements of a proposed System-wide Homeland Analysis and Resource Exchange (SHARE) network capability that would more effectively combat terrorism than does our current system, while protecting privacy.
The 9/11 Commission, in their final report, embraced the idea of the SHARE capability calling the Task Force’s recommendations an “outstanding conceptual framework” of a “trusted information network.”
“The terrorist attacks of September 11 demonstrated the urgent need for us to rid ourselves of the Cold War mentality of ‘need to know’ and replace it with a new system based on the ‘need to share,'” said James Barksdale, CEO of Barksdale Management and co-chair of the Task Force. “The passage of this legislation can get terrorism information flowing to the appropriate government officials and help them to better predict and prevent future terrorist attacks.”
The Task Force’s recommendations call for equal attention to enhancing both security and privacy by writing new privacy protection policies into the use of technology from the start. This will be critical to establishing the public’s trust, which is a critical component of using technology to strengthen our security. As noted in an open letter released in October by Task Force members and noted civil liberties and privacy protection advocates Dave Farber, Esther Dyson and Tara Lemmey, the Task Force’s approach “builds accountability, transparency and oversight into the system,” which will do far more to protect privacy than the status quo. In addition, they noted that “the Task Force also designed the network not as a centralized database, but as a set of pointers and directories that allow only authorized users to gain access to information. The Task Force also calls for a phased implementation to allow for appropriate public comment and a strong civil liberties board to oversee the system and ensure that privacy protections are strengthened.”
The Markle Task Force on National Security in the Information Age is a diverse and bipartisan group of former policy makers from the past six presidential administrations, senior information technology executives, and privacy advocates from both the public and private sectors. The Markle Task Force has recommended ways of improving national security decisions by transforming business processes and how information is shared. Its recommendations informed the 9/11 Commission Report and were subsequently included in two federal laws. Learn more about the Markle Task Force at www.markle.org/national-security.