Intel Community Weighs Role of Open Source Intelligence Amid Ukraine Conflict

Intelligence agencies have struggled to define how open source intelligence fits into its broader work, but the wide breadth of publicly available information about the Ukraine conflict, combined with proactive disclosures of classified information, are providing some clarity about OSINT’s role.

During an appearance at the Center for Strategic and International Studies last week, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Stacey Dixon said publicly available satellite imagery, for instance, puts the intelligence community “in a different place” in not being the sole arbiter of information about a foreign conflict like the one in Ukraine.

Commercial satellite imagery helped expose Russia’s build-up of forces prior to the invasion, and since then, such imagery has helped publicly track the conflict’s progression in detail.

“Within the community, I think we have been thinking about open source information and how it actually fits into the intelligence enterprise for quite a while,” Dixon said. “There’s a lot of really useful information out there and so figuring out how do we legally, keeping in mind privacy and civil liberties, how do we bring in the information that’s useful and see how we can complement the classified information we have in terms of being able to provide insights to our customers.”

OSINT represents a rapidly expanding world of social media feeds, commercial satellite imagery, cell phone videos and other internet-derived information that allow professional and amateur analysts alike to investigate events happening around the world without the need for classified information. Read the full article here.

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