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Jun 07, 2013


Thank you for sharing your perspective on this.

There is one significant difference between traditional law enforcement methods and the "collection first" model - traditional law enforcement checks and balances occur in public view, with relatively full transparency. I believe your statement that checks and balances exist with "collection first" programs, but the concealment of those checks and balances from the public means that the public cannot, by definition, engage in informed dialogue about their appropriateness and effectiveness.

I believe that the relevant agencies are working hard to "do the right thing" in detecting terrorism patterns while preserving Americans' 4th Amendment rights. But I have seen reports that some Americans' data are in some cases being included, and that's where I have concerns about this program.

Even if specific data descriptors and analysis methods need to remain secret to be effective, wouldn't oversight of aggregate data at least be possible? Is there not some way to, for example, publicly account for the number of Americans whose data is being scooped up for analysis? How do we allow for redress in cases where someone's data was acquired inappropriately (i.e. in a manner contrary to the 4th Amendment)?

I hope that it becomes possible to have a more thorough public policy debate on this topic. Thanks again for your views on this.

Very interesting take, Stewart. What's missing in the discussion so far is what the public likely understands the least...the value of metadata, sometimes over discreet data. I wrote the concept up here:


We're in an age of Big Metadata and it needs to force changes to what's acceptable for surveillance and privacy. Interesting times.

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