A major theme of the talk was the claim that the "half life of secrets is declining". At one time, something classified would stay that way for 25 or more years. There is now increasing probability that directly (through leaks) or indirectly (by inference in non-classified sources) a secret will be publicly disclosed. Decisions must now be made by the intelligence community in light of the fact that their actions will likely be revealed in this near future.
Furthermore, there is a offense / defense tension to the gathering of intelligence. In the past, the discovery of a vulnerability in codes (e.g., encryption), etc would result in orders to change, orders that themselves would likely be undetected by potential foes. But how do you ensure that current systems remain secure, when most (90+%) are in the private sector. And clarify the tension where by e-commerce and dissent are weighed against intelligence gathering and military support (e.g., drones), and all dominated by cat videos.
How does the United States resolve the tension of promoting a freedom agenda (use of Twitter, etc in undemocratic countries) and the need of surveillance against foreign and domestic foes? In the past, secrets and intelligence were the actions of nation-states. Often gathered on physically separate networks against the background of predominantly local communication. Now, the predominant threat is from individuals (i.e., terrorists) and operating in a backdrop of global communication.
Three final points:
- Increased privacy protections for non-citizens regardless of locale (see PPD-29)
- ACM/IETF Code of Ethics as relates to confidentiality and security
- MLAT and the time scales of the treaty versus the internet