Open Source Intelligence in the Legal Field

Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) is a collection of data of an individual or an organization that are publicly available in the public domain and Internet. Follow this Post we will be posting free online tools (and how to use them) which can be used by legal professional to uncover information about clients, witnesses…in the public domain and Internet

Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) is a collection of data of an individual or an organization that are publicly available in the public domain and Internet. In the intelligence community, the term “open” refers to overt, publicly available sources (as opposed to covert or clandestine sources). OSINT under one name or another has been around for hundreds of years. With the advent of instant communications and rapid information transfer, a great deal of actionable and predictive intelligence can now be obtained from public, unclassified sources.

Following this Post we will be posting free online tools (and how to use them) which can be used by legal professional to uncover information about clients, witnesses…in the public domain and Internet

To begin with bellow are real cases where OSINT has been used

Case Application  Of OSNIT
Locke v Stuart and AXA Corporate Solutions – from Kennedys
The Insurers were able to show that motor accident claims were fraudulent by producing three large files of Facebook searches, concerning 28 account holders, which revealed links between many of those suspected to have been involved in a fraudulent series of road traffic claims in the Birkenhead area between 2006 and 2007. The judge endorsed the proper use of Facebook in such circumstances, but recommended that in future the court is presented with a document explaining how entries on Facebook are created and what inferences may safely be drawn from them, which would avoid spending too much time debating the concept & significance of Facebook friend.

Smyth v St Andrew’s Insurance Plc – from bailii.org
A claim was made against the insurers arising out of a house fire where a transcript of an exchange of messages on Facebook was produced in evidence by the claimant. The judge commented that the messages sent by one of the house’s inhabitants to a witness six days before the trial accusing him of lying about her smoking in her room were “abusive and aggressive”. The judge upheld the claim, concluding that the most plausible explanation for the fire was the accidental discarding or dislodging of a lit cigarette by the sender of the Facebook messages.

Safetynet Security Ltd v Coppage – from bailii.org
The defendant was sued for breach of a non-solicitation covenant in his contract of employment during which the claimants attacked the defendant’s credibility by referring to the fact that he had lied on his Facebook page, as they put it, “he claimed to be an ex-SAS officer and did not reveal that he was an ex-police officer when asserting his credentials in security”.

Robert Gordon Martin & Heather Elaine MARTIN v Gabriele Giambrone P/A Giambrone & Law, Solicitors and European Lawyers – from bailii.org & www.carson-mcdowell.com
The plaintiffs were asking Mr Justice Horner if they could rely upon Facebook posts made during the course of their legal proceedings against the defendant, who was objecting to its use and objecting to the comments being put before the Judge dealing with a Mareva Injunction.

The defendant claimed that use of the comments would breach his confidence as his Facebook site is restricted to communications to his friends only and that the material was private. However Mr Justice Horner noted: “Before I go on … I should say that anyone who uses Facebook does so at his or her peril. There is no guarantee that any comments posted to be viewed by friends will only be seen by those friends. Furthermore it is difficult to see how information can remain confidential if a Facebook user shares it with all his friends and yet no control is placed on the further dissemination of that information by those friends.”

Game Retail Ltd v Laws UKEAT/0188/14/DA & reported Here
This regards an Employment Appeal Tribunal brought by Game, the computer games retailer, concerning its dismissal of one of its employees for an alleged misuse of Twitter. Game had fired its loss and prevention officer, Mr Laws, for gross misconduct following the discovery of “a significant number of offensive, threatening and obscene tweets” on his personal Twitter account.

Smith v Trafford Housing Trust [2012] EWHC 3221 (Ch)
Judgment in a claim for breach of contract where the claimant had been demoted after posting a comment on his Facebook page concerning gay marriage. The claimant was found to have been wrongfully dismissed and was awarded damages accordingly.

R v T [2012] EWCA Crim 2358 – from bailii.org
This case relates to procedural issues regarding the introduction in evidence of Facebook posts, in this case by the defence.

Bucknor v R – from bailii.org
Bucknor appealed against his conviction for murder on the grounds of a ruling made by the trial judge, that evidence from Bebo & YouTube was admissible and also concerned his subsequent direction to the jury about that material. The judgement means that any material taken from the internet must have a full provenance.

It is also worth researching the Chad Evans / Twitter case, where a number of individuals put information on Twitter and were subsequently charged & convicted with publishing material likely to lead members of the public to identify the complainant in a rape case, contrary to the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992.

USA v Joshua Meregildo et al 11 Cr. 576 (WHP) – from the USA
Provides an analysis of the expectation of privacy of a Facebook user who shares information with Facebook ‘friends’. In this case the US District Court found that the US Law Enforcement did not unlawfully gain access to information through the assistance of a co-operating witness who was one of the defendants Facebook ‘friends’.

ECJ – Lindqvist – European Court of Justice ruling
ECJ – Lindqvist – European Court of Justice ruling
ECJ – Lindqvist – European Court of Justice ruling
Concerns the publication of personal data on the internet.

Follow this Post we will be posting free online tools (and how to use them) which can be used by legal professional to uncover information about clients, witnesses…

Sources: https://www.uk-osint.net/legalcases.html