Network Accountability for the Domestic Intelligence Apparatus

55 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2010 Last revised: 4 Mar 2014

See all articles by Danielle Keats Citron

Danielle Keats Citron

University of Virginia School of Law

Frank Pasquale

Cornell Law School; Cornell Tech

Date Written: 2011


A new domestic intelligence network has made vast amounts of data available to federal and state agencies and law enforcement officials. The network is anchored by “fusion centers,” novel sites of intergovernmental collaboration that generate and share intelligence and information. Several fusion centers have generated controversy for engaging in extraordinary measures that place citizens on watch lists, invade citizens’ privacy, and chill free expression. In addition to eroding civil liberties, fusion center overreach has resulted in wasted resources without concomitant gains in security.

While many scholars have assumed that this network represents a trade-off between security and civil liberties, our study of fusion centers suggests they are, in fact, mutually reinforcing. Too often, fusion centers’ structure has been based on clever legal strategies for avoiding extant strictures on information-sharing, rather than objective analysis of terror threats. The “Information Sharing Environment” created by fusion centers has short-circuited traditional modes of agency accountability. Our twentieth-century model of agency accountability cannot meaningfully address twenty-first century agency coordination.

A new concept of accountability - network accountability - is needed to address the shortcomings of fusion centers. Network accountability has technical, legal, and institutional dimensions. Technical standards can render data exchange between agencies in the network better subject to review. Legal redress mechanisms can speed the correction of inaccurate or inappropriate information. We also propose a robust strategy for institutionalizing these aspects of network accountability, based on recent regulatory reform.

Keywords: intelligence, fusion centers, civil liberties, information privacy

Suggested Citation

Citron, Danielle Keats and Pasquale, Frank A., Network Accountability for the Domestic Intelligence Apparatus (2011). Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 62, p. 1441, 2011, U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-48, Available at SSRN:

Danielle Keats Citron (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Frank A. Pasquale

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853

Cornell Tech ( email )

111 8th Avenue #302
New York, NY 10011
United States

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