The growth of social media poses a dilemma for security and law enforcement agencies. On the one hand, social media could provide a new form of intelligence – SOCMINT – that could contribute decisively to keeping the public safe. On the other, national security is dependent on public understanding and support for the measures being taken to keep us safe.
Social media challenges current conceptions about privacy, consent and personal data, and new forms of technology allow for more invisible and widespread intrusive surveillance than ever before. Furthermore, analysis of social media for intelligence purposes does not fit easily into the policy and legal frameworks that guarantee that such activity is proportionate, necessary and accountable.
This paper is the first effort to examine the ethical, legal and operational challenges involved in using social media for intelligence and insight purposes. It argues that social media should become a permanent part of the intelligence framework but that it must be based on a publicly argued, legal footing, with clarity and transparency over use, storage, purpose, regulation and accountability. #Intelligence lays out six ethical principles that can help government agencies approach these challenges and argues for major changes to the current regulatory and legal framework in the long-term, including a review of the current Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
Tip of the Hat to Berto Jongman.
Phi Beta Iota: Government intelligence is incompetent with what they have now. “SOCMINT” (for Social Media Intelligence) is as silly as claiming that Document Media Exploitation (DOMEX) is a separate discipline. Both will spawn bureaucracies and undeserved promotions along with attendant fraud, waste, and abuse. While well intentioned, this contribution is part of the problem–doing the wrong things righter–not part of the solution. Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) covers both of the above, and until the government can make the leap from OSINT to M4IS2 (Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making) it is by no means ready to muck about within Social Media. We are quite certain that social media intelligence is emergent, and it will emerge faster, better, cheaper (if not free) than any government bureaucracy could possibly fund, imagine, or execute in several decades.