Law Enforcement Intelligence


1.  What value does Open Source information have for law enforcement intelligence?

Open source intelligence (OSINT) plays a vital role in contemporary policing. OSINT has been around for many decades and has been utilized by military and federal agencies (Friedman, 1998). The information that is gleaned from this process is derived from public sources such as the internet, social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and any other public records. The information must be derived legally and ethically by law enforcement agencies. The modern era has actually enabled law enforcement by providing very useful and sometimes incriminating information right on public internet sites (social media). However, care must be taken into consideration as to the validity of the sourced information.

2.  Provide two examples of Open Sources that can be beneficial to law enforcement and explain what those benefits are.

There are many open sources in which can be accessed by law enforcement to gain information from. Many law enforcement and federal agencies look to the internet for a footprint that may have been left behind to gain any intelligence. Of course, social media has become the go to choice. The two examples I will provide are You Tube and Instagram. Both of these sites are very popular and used by millions of people across the globe. This could instantly provide law enforcement agencies the ability process any digital footprints left behind by any suspect. Many criminals have left incriminating evidence on social media accounts that are often made public by the user themselves. Social media has caused an epic rise in internet crime over the last decade for sure.

3.  What concerns must be factored in if utilizing Open Source information?

The most glaring problem with open source information is the reliability factor. Of course, it must pass the common sense test and otherwise be vetted for legitimacy before any action can be taken against someone. We have all seen hoaxes play out in the media or the law enforcement agencies have been too quick to act and often pursue a bad lead. The bottom line is that all information must be vetted for accuracy and reliability. There have been too many instances of erroneous information that gets processed as credible and it puts law enforcement agencies in a compromising position.

4.  Can police lawfully use insincere or fraudulent means to access social media information? (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest…)

There have been many cases of law enforcement agencies using the information gleaned illegally. Of course, the law works in mysterious ways and many criminals have been prosecuted from information obtained illegally from their accounts. So, yes the local and federal law enforcement agencies can have access to your data if there is reasonable cause. However, there is most definitely the question of illegal search and seizure actions that may have taken place to get the social media account information. In the end, if it takes another pedophile off the street, then I’m all for it.

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