Sensitive But Unclassified Information and Other Controls: Policy and Options for Scientific and Technical Information
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Providing access to scientific and technical information ST for legitimate uses while protecting it from potential terrorists poses difficult policy choices. Federally funded, extramural academic research is to be classified if it poses a security threat otherwise, it is to be unrestricted. Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, controls increasingly have been placed on some unclassified research and ST information, including that used to inform decision making and citizen oversight. These controls include sensitive but unclassified SBU labels restrictive contract clauses visa controls controlled laboratories and wider legal restrictions on access to some federal biological, transportation, critical infrastructure, geospatial, environmental impact, and nuclear information. Some professional groups have supported voluntary controls on the conduct or publication of sensitive research. Federal agencies do not have uniform definitions of SBU or consistent policies to safeguard or release it, raising questions about how to identify SBU information, especially ST information how to keep it from terrorists, while allowing access for those who need to use it and how to develop uniform nondisclosure policies and penalties. On December 16, 2005, President Bush instructed federal agencies to standardize procedures to designate, mark, and handle SBU information, and to forward recommendations for government-wide standards to the Director of National Intelligence DNI. Final action is pending. Following the 2001 terrorist attacks, the Bush Administration issued guidance that reversed the Clinton Administrations presumption of disclosure approach to releasing information under Freedom of Information Act FOIA and cautioned agencies to consider withholding SBU information if there was a sound legal basis to do so.
- Information Science
- Government and Political Science