Ethics in intelligence is not usually a thought that gets a lot of serious attention, and intelligence tends to have a bad reputation on this topic. Events even in the news during the past few weeks show that governments and other organizations will go to extreme measures to gather intelligence if the conditions allow, and if the value of the intelligence is perceived great enough.
That said, often organizations, including governments, can gather extremely valuable information via ethical, responsible and open means. Growth in the Open Source intelligence collection capabilities and staff within the United States Intelligence Community, and numerous intelligence successes attributed to open source collection, show that the covert and clandestine methods of spy lore are no longer the only way to gather valuable info.
In addition, the scrutiny that the public places on organizations – governments, non-profits, and for-profit entities alike – can be a deterrent to some types of collection that may have been considered status quo in the past. Companies that employ intelligence analysts (and our ranks are growing) should be concerned with the sources and methods used by their analysts. A bad choice by an analyst or intelligence manager can have serious negative consequences on an organization’s reputation, stock price, and safety of personnel.
AIRIP was founded on the principle that there can be ethics in intelligence collection, and that there should be a standard for organizations to use as they develop and mature intelligence programs.
Without a professional standard, analysts could be asked to do unethical things in the name of collection, and the actions of intelligence professionals could seriously harm the reputation of the organizations where they work. Analysts need a professional standard to point to when unscrupulous colleagues ask for information to be collected in ways that could harmful to themselves, their colleagues or their organization. Analysts also need a guide on how to protect themselves when collecting information in the open source world.
For these reasons, AIRIP is proud to introduce the Risk Intelligence Code of Conduct. This was presented to members on October 28, 2015 via webinar with two experts in the field speaking in support of the code of conduct. The webinar was attended by over half of AIRIP’s current membership, and polls at the beginning and end of the webinar showed overwhelming support for the Code of Conduct as written.
We hope that members and non-members will use this Code of Conduct to discuss and enact ethical intelligence collection within their organizations, and form a basis for their own Codes of Conduct.