On June 6th, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report to Congress examining progress made in the way the intelligence community shares classified information across government and the challenges identified by the unauthorized disclosures of State Department cables by WikiLeaks. The report, Intelligence Information: Need-to-Know vs. Need-to-Share, starts with the acknowledgment of the paradox that lies at any intelligence effort: “Intelligence is valuable only if it can be shared with consumers who need it, but, to the extent that it is more widely shared, risks of compromise are enhanced.” According to the report, the goal is “to find the best balance between adequate sharing and effective information security,” which the current Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, has referred to as the “sweet spot.”
Overall, the report is positive in its evaluations of the impact WikiLeaks has had on the further implementation of an Information Sharing Environment, which was mandated by major legislation in the aftermath of 9/11. According to CRS, “Support for information sharing among intelligence agencies remains strong within both the executive branch and Congress.” CRS further states, “Intelligence Community representatives have recently described new technologies and procedures to enhance information security capabilities to determine who has had access to particular reports.” However, CRS also observes that the information sharing policies designed in recent years have had mixed results. “Review of the Fort Hood shooting in 2009 and the attempted bombing of a commercial airliner the following Christmas revealed that serious obstacles to information sharing had not been completely overcome.”
The Report makes also reference to the work of the Markle Task Force on National Security in the Information Age. The focus of our Markle Task Force has been on addressing 21st century national security challenges by enabling exchange and discovery of information across government in a trusted manner. Toward that end, the Markle Task Force has suggested the development of particularized privacy policies and the adoption of an “authorized use” concept that would manage access based upon mission and permission. When coupled with immutable audit capabilities and information security protections, we believe the “sweet spot” between the information security and information sharing can be met.
The Markle Task Force recently submitted testimony to the House detailing recommendations for responding to WikiLeaks. To learn more about our Markle Task Force and the contours of a “Need-to-Share” culture it recommends, please see our work in Information Sharing & Collaboration.
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