Open source investigation refers to the practice of using publicly available information to conduct research and gather information for an investigation. This can include using online search engines, social media platforms, public records databases, and other publicly accessible sources to gather information. There are a number of tools and techniques that private investigators can use to conduct open-source investigations, such as:
Use search engines like Google to find information about individuals, organizations, and events. Who knew that every time you Googled someone, you were performing an open source investigation? It is important to understand if your results are from a primary source or from a secondary source that references the original data.
Social Media Platforms
Use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to find information about individuals, including their interests, connections, and activities.
Public Records Databases
Access public records databases, such as those maintained by government agencies or private public database companies, to gather information about individuals, including their criminal history, property ownership, and financial information. Private public records database companies sell the information as a subscription to private investigation agencies and law enforcement.
News and Media Sources
Use news and media sources, such as online news articles and television broadcasts, to gather information about individuals and events. It is important to be aware of and factor in the political slant of the media source, i.e., the same story is often reported differently by FOX News vs, CNN or MSNBC.
While open source investigation can be a valuable tool for private investigators, the information obtained through these sources may not always be accurate or up-to-date and should be verified through additional sources before being used in an investigation.