Balancing Transparency and Secrecy in a Digital Age

CIA’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer, Benjamin Huebner, recently spoke to a large crowd at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC about the balance of transparency and secrecy in a digital age, especially within the Intelligence Community (IC).

Moderated by Brookings Institution Federal Executive Fellow (and former CIA Office of Public Affairs spokesperson) Ryan Trapani, the conversation spanned from discussions on the legal context of privacy and transparency to the intersection of public accountability and secrecy. That balance, said Ben, “makes us better” as an intelligence agency.

Ben relayed a whole-of-Agency commitment to protecting Americans’ privacy and civil liberties. “It is the role of every single officer to think of these issues,” said Ben. “The moment you become a CIA officer is when you go to our memorial wall and you stand up in front of those 133 stars and swear a constitutional oath to protect and defend the constitution.”

Learn more about the CIA efforts to be more transparent while simultaneously guarding national secrets. For more information about applying to jobs within the IC (including privacy positions), visit the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The CIA also has a good online Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Reading Room, and a great example of the declassified information contained therein is the “Family Jewels,” which is nearly 700 pages of agency responses to a 1973 directive from then Director of Central Intelligence James Schlesinger on activities employees thought might be inconsistent with the CIA’s charter. The original press release related to this article is available on the CIA blog.

Rick Newbold Written by:

Mr. Newbold has been working in the national security field since 2003 and has been an IAPP-certified privacy professional since 2007. He holds a JD from Regent University, an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management, and an LL.M. in National Security Law from Georgetown University Law Center. Mr. Newbold is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Public Policy with a focus on National Security Studies. He has contributed to several national-level documents and participates in a number of public policy-related working groups.

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