Open Source Intelligence

Authored by: Stevyn D. Gibson

Routledge Companion to Intelligence Studies

Print publication date:  August  2013
Online publication date:  September  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415507523
eBook ISBN: 9780203762721
Adobe ISBN: 9781134480296


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The exploitation of open sources of information is not new. Its contemporary prevalence is a reflection of the increasing volume, immediacy and accessibility of today's mobile digital information and communication technologies (ICT). Like the concept of intelligence, the definition of open source intelligence (OSINT) is debatable. OSINT is defined here as ‘the exploitation of information legally available in the public domain’. The definition works, but it is problematic. What is the public domain? How do we determine ‘legally available’? Who does the exploitation? When WikiLeaks dumped thousands of secret documents into the public domain via the internet during 2010–11, the US Library of Congress, bizarrely, was forbidden from using them in its own assessments because they remained classified. Yet, they were available to anyone with an internet connection, including, presumably, Library of Congress researchers on PCs at home.

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