Feasibility of Improved Information Sharing Assessed

A newly disclosed report to Congress explores the feasibility of eliminating the use of markings that restrict the sharing of information within the “information sharing environment” that encompasses federal agencies as well as state, local and tribal entities.

The March 2008 report (pdf) from the Program Manager of the Information Sharing Environment describes how agencies are grappling with conflicting imperatives to share and to secure information, while trying to reconcile inconsistent information handling policies. The process has not yet reached a resolution.

“The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is currently evaluating the best solution for managing the goal of maximum interagency sharing of national security information with that of protecting the sources and methods on which the IC depends to gather such information,” the report says.

The report evaluates and rejects an approach that would simply permit access to information needed for any “authorized use,” since this would conflict with various statutory requirements and agency regulations that limit access based on privacy and other concerns. The alternative approach would not be feasible without “legislation making clear that this ‘authorized use standard’ supersedes any contravening privacy-related laws or regulations.”

The report also considers “anonymization” of information to obscure sensitive source or privacy-protected information, and it includes a brief discussion of the potential for unauthorized reversal of the anonymization process.

The previously undisclosed report was prepared in response to a requirement in section 504 of the Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007. A copy was obtained by Secrecy News. See “Feasibility Report,” Report for the Congress of the United States, prepared by the Program Manager, Information Sharing Environment, March 2008.

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