Get involved!

Is your organisation carrying out open-source investigative work? Would you like to join a community of like-minded organisations dedicated to conducting public-facing investigations following the recommendations made in the OSINT Guidelines? If so, ObSINT is the perfect place for you!

Our collective goal is to provide organisations conducting open-source investigations with a framework of good practices and an opportunity to reflect on and potentially refine their methodology, tools, skills, documentation, and working environments.

If your organisation has already developed and implemented the recommendations made in the OSINT Guidelines, we would still love to hear from you!

Becoming part of ObSINT gives your organisation an opportunity to share your work, knowledge, and expertise with other members of the OSINT community. It also gives you access to an extensive network of professionals and industry experts, as well as the opportunity to contribute to the development and expansion of our OSINT Guidelines.

Together, we can shape the future of public-facing open-source investigative work and ensure that all our investigations are conducted with the utmost professionalism, accuracy, and transparency.

We look forward to hearing from you and working together to achieve our collective goal of advancing the field of open-source investigative work.

Checklist for implementation of OSINT Guidelines

We have identified the key recommendations of the OSINT Guidelines for your organisation’s consideration.

Chapter One: Public interest

An organisation working in the public interest will need to be transparent about its work, its mission, and what it is trying to achieve. It is essential for organisations to establish clear goals, objectives, and a plan of action that aligns with the interests of the public before carrying out any public-facing work.

When carrying out OSINT investigations in the public interest, it is essential to tread carefully. The line between public interest and invading privacy can be very thin. Guidance and support from peers and relevant experts can help ensure that your work aligns with ethical and legal standards.

Chapter Two: Methodology

Organisations looking to ensure that their methodology is following good practices and high ethical standards should consider implementing a clearly defined framework with high data hygiene and security standards, and organised documentation.

  1. Develop a clear definition of your own research methodology: It is essential to establish a clear and well-defined methodology for conducting open-source investigations. This should include the specific steps that your organisation takes during the research process, the data sources that you use, and the tools that you use to collect and analyse data.
  2. Create a list of the data you use in your methodologies: It is recommended to have a comprehensive list of the data sources that your organisation uses to conduct open-source investigations. This list should include both publicly available and private data sources, as well as the specific types of data that you collect.
  3. Document the tools you use in your research process: It is important to have a clear understanding of the tools that your organisation uses to collect and analyse data. This should include both the tools used for data collection (such as web scraping tools) and those used for data analysis (such as machine learning algorithms). It is also important to document any limitations of these tools, as well as their terms and conditions.
  4. Establish a process for archiving data: It is recommended to have a process for archiving data that is collected during open-source investigations. This can be done either online or offline, depending on the nature of the data and the requirements of your organisation. It is important to ensure that data is securely stored and can be easily accessed and analysed in the future.

Chapter Three: Outputs

This chapter of the OSINT Guidelines recognises that the main risks associated with public interest-based, public-facing open-source investigative work are in the outputs that reach the public eye. This is where potential litigation processes could start, and where your methodologies and research may be scrutinised.

To mitigate these risks, it is essential to give targeted attention to the preparation of outputs. While it may be seen as fastidious, many organisations working in this field have engaged with editors, proofreaders, and/or legal reviews to avoid adverse consequences. This can help to ensure that your outputs are accurate, reliable, and free from any errors or legal issues.

One of the most important recommendations is to have the capacity to question your organisation’s outputs internally or externally to verify that they are still aligned with the public interest described earlier. This requires ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the outputs to ensure that they meet the highest standards of quality and integrity.

By taking a proactive approach towards the preparation of outputs, organisations can minimise the risks associated with public-facing open-source investigative work. With these measures in place, organisations can build trust with the public and stakeholders while ensuring that their investigations are conducted with the utmost professionalism and integrity.

Chapter Five: General Work Practices

This chapter of the OSINT Guidelines emphasises the importance of a collaborative and safety-conscious approach to open-source investigative work.

  1. Embrace diversity: The OSINT community is rich in diversity, and this should be used to improve an organisation’s methodology, tools, and assessments. It is beneficial to be open to knowledge sharing, learning from others in the industry and to give back to the community. By doing so, organisations can help to advance the field and improve the overall quality of open-source investigative work.
  2. Prioritise security and safety: It is crucial to prioritise the security and safety of your organisation and staff when conducting open-source investigations. This should not be seen as an emergency measure but as an essential part of the investigative process. The risks associated with public-facing OSINT work are real and can negatively affect your organisation and your staff if not considered carefully It is essential to take measures to minimise these risks, such as using secure communication channels and maintaining a safe working environment at all times.
  3. Keep your outputs relevant: The risks associated with public-facing OSINT work go beyond data analysis. It is important to keep your outputs relevant and be open to amending your research or integrating further explanations or refinements as necessary. This will help to ensure that your organisation’s investigations are accurate, reliable, and of the highest quality.

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