The United States collects vast troves of private information on American citizens and foreigners, much of it through covert surveillance by intelligence agencies. How much of that data should be shared with allied democracies like Canada or France? How about repressive, illiberal allies like Saudi Arabia? Or adversaries like Russia or Venezuela?
Answers will vary depending on how respondents adjudicate tradeoffs among goods and values including the privacy of Americans, the utility of bilateral intelligence sharing, and the morality of sharing information that could abet abuses.
Reasonable people will differ in their judgments.
Insofar as their varying preferences are consistent with the Constitution, legislators ought to decide among them via the democratic process, weighing legislation with input from constituents, who can hold them accountable for their votes in future elections, or lobby for changes as events or new data suggest the prudence of a given reform.
Alas, that isn’t how information-sharing presently works.
Whether the U.S. government shares data with foreign officials or intelligence agencies, including private information about Americans, is determined largely by unaccountable bureaucrats. And more often than not, their conclusions are closely held secrets, further severing policy from the democratic checks designed by the Framers.