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Photo: Florian Gaertner

Open source intelligence and privacy dilemmas: Is it time to reassess state accountability?

Quirine Eijkman Daan Weggemans
Journal 08 April 2013

Open source intelligence (OSINT) is increasingly used for security and safety purposes. Even though security – and intelligence agencies and the police are using messages on social networking sites, weblogs, blogs or apps, state accountability mechanisms found it difficult to adapt to the online culture. Consider for instance the dilemma that open source information (OSINF) is frequently collected, processed, minded and stored by private companies. From a human right perspective, this gathering of OSINT demands proper checks and balances. Even though laws, regulations and policies may recognise this, it is important to review whether the gathering of OSINF online leads to new dilemmas. We conclude that state accountability should at least entail that the actual process and outcome of data collection, processing, mining and sharing is subjected to review and/or sanctions. Furthermore, it should become transparent which entity or who carries responsibility for the use of OSINT.

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