155
13
Proper Procedures
forInternet Searching
Proper procedures are needed for Internet searching when an organization
establishes a policy for the use of intelligence gleaned from the Internet,
such as for background vetting, due diligence, competitive intelligence,
and clearances. Practical methodology will be covered in SectionIV. This
chapter is concerned with the strategy adopted by an agency or private
entity for formal controls on the collection, analysis, and reporting of
information from the Internet in compliance with management policy.
Such controls became necessary because of the proliferation of sources of
information accessible from the Internet, and the wildly varying nature
(quality, accuracy) of the data. If the Internet is used for certain types
of data, such as government records, scientic research citations, press
accounts, or product descriptions, there is only limited concern about
the attributes of that data (as set out in Chapter 12, such as verication).
However, social networking, blogs, chat, and even posted videos and pho-
tographs have decidedly less reliability. One way of looking at the nature
of data available over the Internet is to examine the disclaimers ever pres-
ent on Web sites that essentially exempt the host from the necessity of
vouching for the accuracy, completeness, and usability of the data pre-
sented. Such disclaimers speak to the expectation that the percentage of
data with errors could be relatively high (or perhaps the Web site hosts do
not trust computers).
INTERNET SEARCHES FOR VETTING, INVESTIGATIONS, AND INTELLIGENCE
156
CRITERIA
As outlined in previous chapters, application of criteria for assessing the
credibility and value of information found on the Internet rests with the
collector and reviewer. When information is collected to support a deci-
sion-making process of consequence, the value, accuracy, and reliability of
any source used must be considered. This is all the more important with
Internet data. Each organization must decide for itself whether to have a
policy and set procedural standards for using Internet sources, but among
the areas where it is prudent to have such criteria are
Vetting individuals for hiring, employment decisions, clearances,
and due diligence
Vetting rms as suppliers, partners, and for mergers and
acquisitions
Product and brand protection
Competitive intelligence
Enterprise security
Criminal and administrative investigations
A philosophical baseline analogous to the hearsay rule
1
applies to
records based on Internet intelligence: If the source is a record created
in the normal course of business, with a “business grade” expectation of
accuracy and reliability, then the information would normally be deemed
credible. If the source is based on rumor, word of mouth, recollection, or
a record created long after the fact, then additional verication will be
needed before affording the information credibility. The analogy is use-
ful to an enterprise, because when information rises to the level of intel-
ligence or evidence, it must meet higher standards. Statistics are a good
example of the dilemma facing the analyst, because the old joke about lies,
damn lies, and statistics often applies. The Internet can be a particularly
useful tool to nd different sources for statistical information on the same
topic, so it stands to reason that a report can include numbers from vari-
ous sources found on the Internet. The key to ensuring that such reports
are reliable is that the data presented are up to the same standard, whether
from the Internet or other sources.
Based on the principles presented to this point, the procedures that
should be considered for implementation by organizations for the types
of Internet intelligence listed above include
Establishing a cadre of trained, skilled Internet investigative
analysts as part of the organizations security, research, legal, or

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