Open source information for law enforcement


Open sourceinformation for law enforcement

What value does open source information have for law enforcementintelligence?

Open-source intelligence denoted as OSINT is information that ispublicly available. First, open source materials provides a widearray of information on different topics. Today`s threats aregeographically diffuse and rapidly changing. As such, an intelligenceanalyst may be forced to shift from one topic to another in search ofsocial, cultural and economic information about a specific country orcriminal organization. All this information is readily available inopen sources. Secondly, ethically collected open source informationcan be used in court proceedings “without risking exposure ofsensitive intelligence assets” (Pallaris, 2011). Thirdly, opensource information makes the process of collecting law intelligenceless costly. According to Pallaris (2011), open source provides ahigher return on investment to the process of intelligencecollection. While seated in the office, an intelligence analyst canbrowse all the information he/she needs from the internet.

Provide two examples of open sources that can be beneficial to lawenforcement and explain what those benefits are

There are many open sources of information that can be beneficial tothe process of collecting law information intelligence. One of thesesources is the libraries. Several decades ago, it was hard to findspecific information about certain organized criminal groups orcultures. However, today, there are numerous books on the topic oflaw enforcement issues and crime. One of the benefits of relying onlibraries as a source of law enforcement intelligence is that theinformation contained in this source is highly reliable. Before apublishing agency agrees to put into print certain material, it mustthoroughly investigate its author as well as the reliability of thesources used to ensure that the book does not mislead its readers.Universities own most libraries and as Pallaris (2011) say, theseinstitutions are vital grounds for utilizing expertise found withinthe public sphere. The other benefit of using libraries is that theyare cheap sources of information. The other open source ofinformation for law enforcement agencies is the Internet-based mediasuch as social networking sites. The internet provides a wide arrayof information about numerous topics. The internet is not a source,but it is a method for transporting information as well as a virtuallocation (Schaurer &amp Storger, 2013). Although the informationcontained on the internet may be unreliable or incorrect, there is aset criterion for obtaining impeccable intelligence. For example, oneshould search information from the official website of governmentagencies or criminal gangs. The internet provides general informationthat law enforcement agencies can use to search for specificintelligence. It is also a good starting point for the informationcollection process.

What concerns must be factored in if utilizing open sourceinformation

Some of the open sources of information are highly subjective. AsPallaris (2011) states filtering the signals from the noises may bedifficult for the intelligence community. Also, the fact thatmultiple news agencies publish the same information about an eventdoes not make it true or accurate. Sometimes, even governmentagencies rely on sources that are unreliable. There are also ethicalconcerns about the process of collecting open source informationespecially in regard to social media. It is also possible thatenemies may manipulate open sources of intelligence for deceptivepurposes (Schaurer &amp Storger, 2013).

Can police lawfully use insincere or fraudulent means to accesssocial media information?

Police officers cannot use insincere or fraudulent methods to accesssocial media information. The First Amendment to the United StatesConstitutions forbids the government from infringing on the citizen’sfreedom of expression. Provided a citizen’s exercise of his/herfreedom of expression in his/her social media platforms does notamount to real threats to other individuals, police officers may beaccused of violating the person`s right if they use fraudulentmethods to access the information. When collecting social mediainformation, the law enforcement agencies need a good reason specificto a person before they can monitor a citizen` use of social media.Besides, even if the police are to use insincere or fraudulent means,they cannot rely on the information they collect in a court of law asit violates the Constitution (Pallaris, 2011). It is also unethicalfor police officers to use fraudulent means to access social mediainformation.


Pallaris, C. (2011). Open source intelligence: a strategic enabler ofsecurity. CSS Analyses in Security policy, 3(32).

Schaurer, F. &amp Storger, J. (2013). The evolution of open sourceintelligence(OSINT). Journal of U.S Intelligence Studies, 19(3)