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The Google Effect

Today’s Telegraph cites the former head of GCHQ, David Pepper, elaborating on what he calls the ‘Google effect’, i.e. the ready availability of vast amounts of open source information online. While he is certainly right that the internet continues to be the single most important game-changer for intelligence collection over the last decade or so, his conclusion seems somewhat shallow.

Nobody wants the easy stuff anymore and there is no point spending effort and money collecting it.

Doesn’t the opposite make sense? Because that ‘easy stuff’ plays an ever increasing role in today’s intelligence environment, even more resources need to be allocated to its collection in order to deliver timely, well-founded and actionable analysis? Does Pepper maybe confuse secrecy with intelligence? If it is true – and there can hardly be any doubt about this – that OSINT nowadays provides the absolute majority of intelligence information collected and analyzed, then there certainly is a point in not abandoning it – and in not calling it ‘easy’, for its volume, variety and velocity eventually complicate the whole intelligence effort.

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