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US Security Classifications Needs Re-Thinking, Says Board 76

coondoggie writes "The U.S. government's overly complicated way of classifying and declassifying information needs to be dumped and reinvented with the help of a huge technology injection if it is to keep from being buried under its own weight. That was one of the main conclusions of a government board tasked with making recommendations on exactly how the government should transform the current security classification system (PDF)."
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US Security Classifications Needs Re-Thinking, Says Board

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  • Uk going three tier (Score:4, Informative)

    by martin ( 1336 ) <maxsec@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday December 06, 2012 @05:01PM (#42208349) Journal

    Uk is currently moving from the 7 tier IL 0-6 markers to a three tier system, so doesnt surprise the US are looking to follow this

  • From the article (Score:5, Informative)

    by captaindomon ( 870655 ) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @05:14PM (#42208525)
    "Current page-by-page review processes are unsustainable in an era of gigabytes and yottabytes. New and existing technologies must be integrated into new processes that allow greater information storage, retrieval, and sharing. We must incorporate technology into an automated declassification process" So this article isn't about changing the classification levels, etc. It's about making a computer decide what should be classified or not. Does anyone think it is a good idea to have a computer decide which information is sensitive, based on some kind of context analysis or something? This is someone trying to sell to the government. It just has to be-
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @05:17PM (#42208565) Homepage

    The military view of security (from the part that uses weapons) is that information needs to be protected only until the enemy can't use it. A classic line is "Where the ship was last week is UNCLASSIFIED. Where the ship was yesterday is CONFIDENTIAL. Where the ship is now is SECRET. Where the ship will be tomorrow is TOP SECRET."

    The important secrets in the combat arms are about future plans and current vulnerabilities. The significant ULTRA interceptions during WWII were mostly boring but important position and strength returns from German units. They'd intercept daily reports like "13th Panzer: 1245 men, 45 tanks, 3350 liters fuel, 245 rounds tank ammo." Intel people would translate this into "13th Panzer down to half strength, has only enough fuel to move 6 km and fight for 1/2 hour." Churchill would then sometimes issue orders like "Do not lose heart! Press on and you will be victorious!" Allied tank units would attack the vulnerable unit, the German unit would run out of fuel and ammo and be destroyed.

    The intel side wants to classify everything forever, because they don't want the enemy to know how much they know and what sources they have. There's something to be said for this, provided that the intel side shuts up. In the era when NSA was targeted on the USSR and didn't share with law enforcement, that worked. The problem now is a big collection vacuum coupled with selective leaks to the rest of the government.

    Then there's pure bureaucratic classification to avoid embarrassment. This has become much worse since anti-terrorism paranoia. It was a big problem before that, though; too much of the USAF budget, for example, is "black". Eventually it comes out what was being built, and there really haven't been significant breakthroughs comparable to, say, the SR-71 in a long time.

  • by TFAFalcon ( 1839122 ) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @05:39PM (#42208901)

    There is another category : Things we did that we don't want to talk about.

    Let's say the military has one of their SNAFUs and bombs a school full of kids. They have a perfectly good reason for not wanting the information to go public : their enemies could use it to whip up support and create more extremists.
    But there is another side to this. To hide it from the enemy you also have to hide it from your own public. In a dictatorship this wouldn't matter, but what about a democracy. How can people decide whether they support the war or not, when they aren't being given accurate information about it? Perhaps if the number of children killed by the army was reported, people would decide that the war just wasn't worth it and put pressure on the politicians to stop it.

"Remember, extremism in the nondefense of moderation is not a virtue." -- Peter Neumann, about usenet