The Line Between Information and Intelligence Essay

The Line Between Information and Intelligence Essay

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In the last few decades, tremendous technological advancement has revolutionised the manner in which intelligence and information are gathered, processed, utilised, and disseminated. According to Curry et al. (2013), organisations are grappling with the challenge of processing and analyzing huge volumes of highly dynamic data. The same challenge continues to be experienced by our intelligence apparatus and those charged with the responsibility of protecting the citizenry from both internal and external threats (Cogan, 2004). Importantly, the new role of big data has come at a time when more and more complex adversaries are emerging, and when the compelling power of globalisation continues to eliminate national boundaries (Curry et al., 2013).
A universally agreed definition of the word “intelligence” is yet to be adopted. Nonetheless, a common element of intelligence operations, as evident in most conventional definitions of the phenomenon, is secrecy (Dupont, 2005; Cogan, 2004; Scott & Jackson, 2004). However, with technological advances, information can now be accessed from sources the intelligence community views as open (Rolington, 2013). As seen later, this has its own advantages and disadvantages. Some contemporary definitions are firmly emphasising that the traditional concept of secrecy is increasingly becoming less useful as the need for information sharing becomes imperative to intelligence operations (Scott & Jackson, 2004; Cogan, 2004; Warner, n/d). On the other hand, it is argued that as long as it is open, it cannot be secretive (Lowenthal, 2009). Certainly, big data holds a huge promise for intelligence, but whether or not the line between intelligence and information is disappearing is a two-sided c...

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... ago. Conventionally, secrecy has been the constitutive element of intelligence. Proponents argue that secrecy is important for intelligence operations due to the need to protect the sources from which it is obtained and the need to avoid premature judgments. However, critics have broadly questioned the validity of defining intelligence from this perspective and its applicability today. There have been concerns that such a description limits the understanding of where the line between intelligence and information can be drawn. With multiple sources of information in the internet age, open source intelligence has become more prominent than ever before, despite the widespread reluctance of the intelligence community to recognise it. Whether or not the boundary between intelligence and information has collapsed under the weight of big data is a two-dimensional matter.

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