Accepted Paper:

Open Source Intelligence as a form of data activism  

Author:

Lonneke van der Velden (University of Amsterdam)

Paper short abstract:

Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) refers to the gathering of data from sources that are publicly available. This presentation focuses on activist examples of OSINT. It aims to understand OSINT empirically and conceptually and how these new methods are learned and shared.

Paper long abstract:

Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) refers to the gathering of data from 'open sources', sources that are publicly available. This could be open data, unintentionally leaked data, or wittingly leaked data. The term 'intelligence' is usually associated with the activities of intelligence agencies, but this paper focuses on examples in which OSINT is used for activist purposes. OSINT practices include, for example, the analysis of social media, video and maps in the context of human rights issues and the analysis of leaked datasets in the context of counter-surveillance activism. The paper aims to understand OSINT empirically and conceptually, by tracing the history of the term and distinguishing it from neighbouring terms such as forensics or other forms of evidence production. In the paper, OSINT is taken to be a form of 'data activism'. Data activism is an umbrella term that indicates grassroots mobilizations enabled but also constrained by software, which take a critical stance towards massive data collection (http://data-activism.net). OSINT, being a proactive response, mobilises new methods and techniques of data analysis. This paper brings into view how this happens (by looking at, amongst others, 'Bellingcat', a project website by and for investigative journalists) and how these new methods are learned and shared.

Panel T045
New Collective Practices of Measurement, Monitoring and Evidence