Even if a proposed technology is effective, it must also be consistent with existing U.S. law and democratic values. Addressing this issue may involve a two-part inquiry. One must assess whether the new technique and objective comply with existing law, yet the inquiry cannot end there. Inasmuch as some programs seek to enable the deployment of very large-scale data mining over a larger universe of data than the U.S. government has previously analyzed, the fact that a given program complies with existing law does not establish that such surveillance practice is consistent with democratic values.

A framework for decision making about information-based programs couched in terms of questions in these two categories is presented in Chapter 2.

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