Open-Source Intelligence: what is it for, where did it come from and what is standing in its way?

Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) is everywhere right now.   From the blue tick ‘journalists’ on the remnants of Twitter to boardrooms and the world’s battlefields.  Yet if the observer grabs any two OSINT examples or indeed any two OSINT practitioners, it is likely that they will get completely different answers to all of the questions in this seminar’s title.  Moreover, if that same observer felt inclined to dive into academic definitions from either Intelligence Studies or Journalism, they would find themselves confused about how what they’ve seen relates to what they’re reading in any way. This session seeks to explain that dissonance by exploring where the various streams of OSINT came from, what common goods/challenges exist, and what that means for OSINT’s evolving role(s). 

Matt Lawrence is a career intelligence professional.  He spent ten years using OSINT techniques in traditional settings in the British Army, he spent a further three years building corporate capabilities around them, and he now works at the Centre for Information Resilience where he attempts to combine his studied professional and academic view of intelligence with the power of the OSINT community for the purpose of human rights accountability. Matt stays connected to the technology driven side of private sector intelligence through consultancy work for both multi-national and start-up tech companies, building tradecraft and translating intelligence use cases.

As an occasional academic, Matt holds a BSc and an MA in Intelligence and International Relations and is currently working toward a PhD on the subject of OSINT’s evolving role in the world.