Unseen followers – A first approach to government use of Open-source intelligence (OSINT) and Social media intelligence (SOCMINT)
It is estimated that every 60 seconds on the internet, people send 187 million emails; perform 3.7 million search queries; send 38 million messages through WhatsApp; post 481 thousand tweets; watch 4.3 million videos on YouTube; download 375 thousand applications; share 174 thousand photos on Instagram and spend 862 thousand dollars on online purchases. If we multiply these figures by hours, days, months and years, we will get a clear picture of the significance the internet has gained throughout the last decade.
In the context of innovation and technological advancement, the advent of web iterations brought about a number of services that have permeated our daily lives, changing the way we communicate with our beloved ones, do business, share information, look for and consume entertainment or learn something new.
With the arrival of platforms that fostered an increasingly social web, a new era of services was brought to life, accompanied by changes in business models and in behavioral patterns regarding content consumption and online interaction among people.
In parallel, due to the need to investigate unlawful actions occurring both online and offline, more emphasis is being placed on the relationships between people and technology in view of the omnipresence of technology in modern society, especially when it comes to the activities they carry out and the services they use on the internet. Currently, people use online profiles in social networks as a window to their thoughts, behavior, preferences, routines, intimate and professional relationships. In essence, some of the most essential characteristics are core aspects of their identities.
The purpose of this report is to contribute to a discussion that is currently neither on the public agenda nor in the democratic forums where public policies are created. Under the pretense of the free availability and advertising of information shared on the internet, States all over the world have silently taken advantage of its exploitation for the most varied purposes. This document is not meant to give a comprehensive account of all the intrinsic particularities of this matter, but to trigger and promote a well-deserved public debate, especially when it comes to the protection of fundamental rights.