U.S. government agencies should be obligated to assess the impact of counterterrorism initiatives on people’s privacy before they begin, a new report claims.
The National Research Council looked at the methodology, effectiveness and privacy implications of a variety of surveillance techniques used by the government.
In the report, the council noted that data on members of the public is regularly recorded in a number of ways – for example, through telephone calls, credit card usage and taxes – and that the government has access to a great deal of this information.
Former U.S. secretary of defense William Perry, co-chair of the committee that wrote the report, said that although technology should be used to prevent potential terrorist attacks, there should be a structure in place to protect privacy.
"The threat [of terrorism] does not justify government activities that violate the law, or fundamental changes in the level of privacy protection to which Americans are entitled," he commented.
In addition to preliminary evaluation of privacy concerns, a framework for regular oversight should be established, the report said.
The National Research Council has a mission to inform and improve the policies and actions of the U.S. government, according to its website.