The rise of the web and Google means that spies in the UK need to work really hard to produce genuinely secret intelligence, former director of the country’s intelligence agency has said.
Former chief of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) Sir David Pepper pointed out that “the Google effect” of so much information being readily available online had “very substantially” raised the “threshold for producing intelligence” for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.
“Nobody wants the easy stuff anymore and there is no point spending effort and money collecting it,” the Telegraph quoted Sir David, as saying.
“Many of the sort of things for which (officials) once would have turned to the intelligence agencies are now readily available to them online,” he added.
Sir David said that with the help of technologies like Google Maps and Streeview anyone could now see photographic detail of far away countries, which hitherto would have been available only through secret and highly sophisticated national satellites.
“Intelligence producers have had to become very sensitive to this phenomenon and very careful not to put effort into producing intelligence that purports to be secret which is in fact not secret at all,” he added.
Tip of the Hat to AFIO.
Phi Beta Iota: Evidently the British have not yet realized that intelligence is about decision-support outputs rather than secret inputs, but at least they have a clue with respect to open sources. In another related article, AFIO points to Congress asking the US secret intelligence community to focus on domestic targets–marijuana growing on federal lands is evidently a major threat to national security, along with the majority of the US population that supports its legalization. Evidently corruption and idiocy in Congress complement each other. Meanwhile, CIA–with the explicit abdication of moral or intellectual leadership from the DNI– fights the Open Source Agency with every dirty trick it can muster including outright lies to Congress and the media. All this means is that the US Government will remain very expensively stupid, while other countries advance the M4IS aspect of the craft of intelligence.