Report: No real substitute for NSA’s bulk data collection


A new report from the National Research Council concludes that untargeted, or bulk, data collection remains probably the best method for fulfilling the National Security Agency’s mission. However, the report’s authors note, there are measures that can be taken to make that practice more transparent and less susceptible to agency abuse.

The 80-plus-page report, which was written in response to a presidential directive to investigate alternatives to bulk data collection by the intelligence community, lays out various possible methods of targeting data collection to specific individuals, groups or behavior patterns –ranging from machine learning to real-time analysis — but seems to come down on the side of the status quo. The only way to investigate newly identified suspects or new information is to have a large database that might already include relevant data, the report explained.

The report does offer suggestions for improving public trust in the process, primarily focused on improving the sanctity…

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