Bulk Collection of Signal Intelligence: Technical Alternatives



Susan Landau, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date and Time

April 20, 2015 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM


Encina Hall (2nd floor)

Abstract: The first Snowden disclosure was that Verizon was providing daily updates of telephony metadata to the NSA. This caused great consternation, and resulted in two government studies, one by the President's NSA Review Committee and one by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.  Both concluded the collection should be ended. The President asked Office of the Director of National Intelligence to produce a report "assessing the feasibility of creating software that would allow the intelligence community more easily to conduct targeted information acquisition rather than bulk collection."  This talk reports on that work, which considered the issue from the angle of technical alternatives, and concluded that there is no technical replacement for bulk data collection, but that software can enhance targeted collection and automate control of data usage. This talk will discuss that report, conducted by the National Research Council, explaining what the report says — and what it doesn't say.

About the Speaker: Susan Landau is Professor of Cybersecurity Policy in the Department of Social Science and Policy Studies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Landau has been a senior staff Privacy Analyst at Google, a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems, a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and at Wesleyan University. She has held visiting positions at Harvard, Cornell, and Yale, and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute. Landau is the author of Surveillance or Security?  The Risks Posed by New Wiretapping Technologies (MIT Press, 2011), and co-author, with Whitfield Diffie, of Privacy on the Line: The Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption (MIT Press, 1998, rev. ed. 2007). She has written numerous scientific and policy research papers, and has also published in other venues, including Science, Scientific American, and the Washington Post. Landau has testified in Congress on cybersecurity and on electronic surveillance. Landau currently serves on the Computer Science Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council.  A 2012 Guggenheim fellow, Landau was a 2010-2011 fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the recipient of the 2008 Women of Vision Social Impact Award, and also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association for Computing Machinery.  She received her BA from Princeton, her MS from Cornell, and her PhD from MIT.