I attended a fascinating roundtable last week on ‘open-source intelligence’ at the Office of National Assessments (ONA), a body whose mandate to ‘provide all-source assessments on international political, strategic and economic developments to the Prime Minister’. As a recent US report describes the topic:
Open source information (OSINT) is derived from newspapers, journals, radio and television, and the Internet. Intelligence analysts have long used such information to supplement classified data, but systematically collecting open source information has not been a priority of the U.S. Intelligence Community. In recent years, given changes in the international environment, there have been calls, from Congress and the 9/11 Commission among others, for a more intense and focused investment in open source collection and analysis. However, some still emphasize that the primary business of intelligence continues to be obtaining and analyzing secrets.
As a tech-savvy bunch of readers, let me ask the question: if you were in the business of using publicly available data to fulfill ONA’s mandate, are there any novel or unusual sources that you would draw upon? This includes sources that would provide new information, as well as those that might help sift the wheat from the chaff.
(xposted @ andrewleigh.com)