EVENT: Who's Watching Little Brother?

December 11, 2013

Americans have been stunned by revelations that the NSA is collecting vast troves of information about ordinary citizens. But the NSA is only part of the surveillance story.

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, state and local police have formed data “fusion centers” across the country and partnered with the federal Intelligence Community to share a wide array of personal information in an effort to detect and prevent terrorism. New research, however, finds that this system of data gathering and sharing produces mountains of data with little or no counterterrorism value, faulting vague and inconsistent rules with little oversight or accountability, and could hinder the investigation of actual criminal or terrorism activity.

The Brennan Center for Justice and the Cato Institute hosted a panel discussion with leading scholars on privacy and national security. Have fusion centers and suspicious activity reporting been effective? What are the risks to civil liberties? What can be done to mitigate these risks, to prevent waste, and to improve oversight?