Better Secrecy for Open Source Intel Collectors Urged

05.19.08 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

U.S. intelligence employees who are collecting open source intelligence online should do more to ensure that they are not identified as intelligence personnel, the House Armed Services Committee said in its new report on the 2009 Defense Authorization Act.

Failure to conceal the identity of open source intelligence collectors could conceivably lead to spoofing, disinformation or other forms of compromise.

“Efforts in this area [i.e., open source intelligence] will require collectors to operate in benign cyberspace domains, such as media websites and academic databases, as well as more hostile areas, such as foreign language blogging websites and even websites maintained by terrorist or state-actors groups. The committee is concerned about the ability of our adversaries to be able to track and attribute collection activities to U.S. and allied forces. Technology exists to provide non-attribution services to protect identities, especially source country of origin.”

“The committee urges the Secretary of Defense to ensure, through the use of all reasonable means, protection of government investigators involved in gathering open source intelligence. These means should include proven non-attribution services, as well as development of appropriate tactics, techniques and procedures that are incorporated into manuals and training programs.”

The Committee generally welcomed the growing investment in open source intelligence.

“The committee recognizes that open source intelligence provides a critical complementary capability to traditional intelligence gathering and analysis. The committee is encouraged by the growing recognition within the military and intelligence communities of the value of open source intelligence which is punctuated by the establishment of the Open Source Center and the development of an Army field manual on open source intelligence.”

See “Non-attribution of open source intelligence research,” excerpted from House Report 110-652, May 16.

A copy of the Army field manual on open source intelligence, which has not been approved for public release, was obtained by Secrecy News and is available here (pdf).