WASHINGTON, January 15 (Sputnik) — Software-based technology to replace the US bulk collection of intelligence does not exist, but there are methods that could potentially be developed to control the effectiveness of targeted data collection and the way it is being used, a report from the National Research Council revealed on Thursday.
“From a technological standpoint, curtailing bulk data collection means analysts will be deprived of some information,” committee chairman of the report Robert F. Sproull said in a statement included in the report. “It does not necessarily mean that current bulk collection must continue. A reduction in bulk collection can be partially mitigated by improving targeted collection, and technologies can improve oversight and transparency and help reduce the conflict between collection and privacy.”
The directive also ordered the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to produce a report within a year, "assessing the feasibility of creating software that would allow the intelligence community more easily to conduct targeted information acquisition rather than bulk collection."
The report suggests that automated controls could help protect the privacy of those who are subject to investigation by isolating bulk data so that it can only be accessed in a specific way, restricting inquiries made against stored data and by auditing queries conducted for inspectors to “verify that the intelligence community has and abides by adequate procedures to protect privacy.”
However, the report concludes that the decision to use “any given technology” is a policy question that needs to consider whether “increased effectiveness and apparent transparency are worth the cost in equipment, labour, and potential interference with the intelligence mission.”
In November, the US Senate voted against the USA Freedom Act, a bipartisan bill that stops the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk data collection program that targets millions of Americans.