Open Source Information Value


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

In today’s information age, open source information is extremely valuable to law enforcement today. The modernization of technology is accelerating at a fast pace. In the very near future, almost everything that someone says or does will be recorded in some way or another. The way open source information is used today has already shown a great potential in solving past crimes, addressing current crimes, and predicting crimes of the future. According to Friedman (1998), there are several categories of open source information, and some of the major sources are the media, databases, and everyone’s favorite, the internet. The reason why it is extremely valuable in law enforcement is because open source information is a repository of information. Some examples of open source information are DNA repositories, social media posts, photos with geotags, and statistical information. Just from the four examples mentioned, one can see the relevance to law enforcement. DNA databases can be used to link DNA evidence; statistical information can be used to develop crime maps, and help in predictive policing (Joh, 2014). Not so smart felons can leave geotags on photos or have Instagram photos that show their whereabouts.

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

Something that comes quickly to mind is that open source information can be used to develop a pattern of life of an area. Using information gained from public databases, law enforcement officials can identify where the next crime might occur. Another way to use open source information is to monitor social media. Social media posts can indicate where protests will occur, or even where a crime is occurring. Recently, a mass shooting in New Zealand was live-streamed on social media. There are some things that law enforcement can learn from that video in terms of the attacker’s timeline and tactics he employed. Joh (2014) posits that open source information from the internet can be used in mass surveillance, and in predictive policing.

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

The top concern with open source information is the validity of it. Additionally, is the information from a reputable source? How old is the information? The validity of the information critical especially with the internet; there is a lot of junk information on the web that must be disregarded by intelligence experts. Something else to also consider is that open source information can also be used by criminals. For example, criminals can observe the actions of a police force if the media is doing a live-broadcast of a crime in progress.

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

As stated earlier, agencies can gather open source information from mass surveillance. One of the methods of surveillance that the government is pursuing is monitoring social networking sites. Monitoring social media can be an effective tactic to employ. However, there are some settings that are put into place where officials have to get really creative. According to Seo (2014), officials can lawfully use tactics, such as posing as another person or viewing a person’s profile by using another profile. It is not an invasion of privacy. It has been upheld in court. Additionally, the FBI indicates that once a person posts something on social media, it is no longer private. It becomes public information (Seo, 2014). It will be interesting to see if the limits of privacy change within the next few years because of modernization.

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