David Omand—GCHQ director from 1996-1997, and the UK’s security and intelligence coordinator from 2000-2005—has just published a new paper: “Understanding Digital Intelligence and the Norms That Might Govern It.”
Executive Summary: This paper describes the nature of digital intelligence and provides context for the material published as a result of the actions of National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. Digital intelligence is presented as enabled by the opportunities of global communications and private sector innovation and as growing in response to changing demands from government and law enforcement, in part mediated through legal, parliamentary and executive regulation. A common set of organizational and ethical norms based on human rights considerations are suggested to govern such modern intelligence activity (both domestic and external) using a three-layer model of security activity on the Internet: securing the use of the Internet for everyday economic and social life; the activity of law enforcement—both nationally and through international agreements—attempting to manage criminal threats exploiting the Internet; and the work of secret intelligence and security agencies using the Internet to gain information on their targets, including in support of law enforcement.
I don’t agree with a lot of it, but it’s worth reading.
My favorite Omand quote is this, defending the close partnership between the NSA and GCHQ in 2013: “We have the brains. They have the money. It’s a collaboration that’s worked very well.”