European Intelligence
and Security Informatics Conference (EISIC) 2012
August 22-24, 2012
Odense, Denmark

The Premier European Conference on Counterterrorism and Criminology

EISIC 2012 Keynote Speech

Dr. Clive Best

"OSINT, The Internet and Privacy"

Dr. Clive Best



In just 17 years the Internet has transformed practically every facet of modern life. The launch of Mosaic, the first web browser in 1993 was the catalyst for a communication revolution, whose implications are still unraveling. The Web was always intended to be a two-way multi-user publishing system undermining state controlled one way broadcasting. Unleashing a mass worldwide communication network to millions of people has brought huge benefits but also some dangers. Countering new threats from malicious, criminal and terrorist activity is a major topic of this conference. These security risks are difficult to control and monitor without affecting personal freedom. Securing networks, tracking attacks and countering extremism has driven the development of OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) tools and techniques. Governments and politicians have also found themselves vulnerable to the viral effect of instant communication as has been seen for instance during the Arab Spring. Counter-balancing all this and in reaction to this spread of mass communication has been a growing threat to individual privacy through electronic surveillance. Personal identity and privacy threats come from governments, criminals, and large commercial interests. The Internet genie is out of the bottle and can never be put back in. How far should governments and security services be allowed to monitor and track individual communication in a democratic society? How far can we trust the information we access on the Internet? Although we can never return to the naivety and excitement of that first Internet dream, are we instead slipping into a potential “big brother “ world where all our personal details, opinions and actions are monitored electronically?

The talk will track how the web exploded and why eventually nearly 50% of Europeans were willing to publish their personal details for better or for worse. The techniques whereby all this data can be easily accessed by anyone with simple OSINT tools will be discussed. Finally we will look at the various attempts that have been made by the W3C and others to protect Internet privacy, to authenticate sites, to validate data and why these have all failed. Can the web ever be tamed and controlled, or is it destined to remain forever an anarchic teenager?

Dr. Clive Best

Clive Best has a PhD in particle physics, worked at CERN for 3 years and at JET for 5 years before joining the European Commission. He led the Europe Media Monitor (EMM) project from 2002 until 2007 at JRC. EMM is the core web based media monitoring solution for the European Commission. Clive's research interests are in Open Source Intelligence and more recently in climate science. He chaired the 2007 NATO Advanced Study Institute on Data mining and has authored several papers on security informatics. In 2008 he left the Commission and co-founded OSVision which specialises in providing bespoke Open Source intelligence solutions.