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Collection Methods
in Congressional Research Service Reports
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Terrorism Investigation (R41780, April 2013) (30pp | 249kb | PDF) — “The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI, the Bureau) is the lead federal law enforcement agency charged with counterterrorism investigations. Since the September 11, 2001 (9/11) attacks, the FBI has implemented a series of reforms intended to transform itself from a largely reactive law enforcement agency focused on investigations of criminal activity into a more proactive, agile, flexible, and intelligence-driven agency that can prevent acts of terrorism. This report provides background information on key elements of the FBI terrorism investigative process based on publicly available information. It discusses
  • several enhanced investigative tools, authorities, and capabilities provided to the FBI through post-9/11 legislation, such as the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001; the 2008 revision to the Attorney General’s Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations (Mukasey Guidelines); and the expansion of Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) throughout the country;
  • intelligence reform within the FBI and concerns about the progress of those reform initiatives;
  • the FBI’s proactive, intelligence-driven posture in its terrorism investigations using preventative policing techniques such as the “Al Capone” approach and the use of agent provocateurs; and
  • the implications for privacy and civil liberties inherent in the use of preventative policing techniques to combat terrorism.”
United States v. Jones: GPS Monitoring, Property, and Privacy (R42511, April 2012) (16pp | 252kb | PDF) — “With each advance in technology, the courts and Congress are asked to balance a host of competing interests including privacy, property, technology, and the needs of law enforcement. It will take future cases and statutes to better delineate a proper balance.”

Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Current Structure and Alternatives
 (RL32525, March 2012) (40pp | 408kb | PDF) — “Congress has long considered various ways to oversee intelligence, an often perplexing, sometimes controversial, and always difficult responsibility. These conditions arise because of the secrecy and sensitivity surrounding intelligence findings, conclusions, dissemination, and sources and methods as well as competition between the legislature and executive for influence over and access to them. The field has become more complicated and demanding in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, with the need for improved information sharing to overcome the ‘foreign-domestic divide’ that has hampered effective intelligence gathering, evaluation, and dissemination. Congressional oversight of intelligence has evolved, especially since the mid-1970s and more recently since 9/11. Yet it continues to be criticized by some as being inadequate, ineffective, or worse, while at the same time, proposals to change it have been met with challenges both from within the legislature itself and from the executive.”

Governmental Tracking of Cell Phones and Vehicles: The Confluence of Privacy, Technology, and the Law (R42109, December 2011) (25pp | 340 | PDF) — "This report will briefly survey Fourth Amendment law as it pertains to the government’s tracking programs. It will then summarize federal electronic surveillance statutes and the case law surrounding cell phone location tracking. Next, the report will describe the GPS-vehicle tracking cases and review the pending Supreme Court GPS tracking case, United States v. Jones. Finally, the report will summarize the geolocation and electronic surveillance legislation introduced in the 112th Congress."

Data Mining and Homeland Security: An Overview
(RL31798, August 2008) (41pp | 231kb | PDF) — "Data mining has become one of the key features of many homeland security initiatives. Often used as a means for detecting fraud, assessing risk, and product retailing, data mining involves the use of data analysis tools to discover previously unknown, valid patterns and relationships in large data sets…. As with other aspects of data mining, while technological capabilities are important, there are other implementation and oversight issues that can influence the success of a project’s outcome."

Privacy: Total Information Awareness Programs and Related Information Access, Collection, and Protection Laws
(RL31730, March 2003) (35pp | 141kb | PDF) — "This report describes current laws and safeguards to protect the privacy of personal information, the required legal process for officials who seek access to information, and the provisions currently in place that permit access and dissemination of information for law enforcement, intelligence, and terrorism purposes." 


For Further InformationSee the GAO Reports on collection methods.

Source: Page created by the DHS/Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the DHS/Privacy Office in cooperation with the DOJ, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance.


Last date revised: 08/10/13