Police expand internet intelligence collection team

Police are moving to bolster its team that scans the internet for threats.

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The Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) team was set up after the 2019 mosque attacks, but initially lacked secure funding.

Internal reports even mentioned the threat it could be “turned off”.

But police said the team still continued to draw on baseline funding from the National Intelligence Centre (NIC), despite last year saying they were seeking dedicated funding for it.

“The NIC has been able to prioritise its use of existing funds, and the available people resource, to support the OSINT team to create a permanent capability,” a spokesperson said.

Internal reports in 2020 warned that police’s lack of a strong OSINT capability seriously compromised intelligence collection, especially in major events. It said the new team had proven its worth repeatedly within a few months of being set up in October 2019, particularly in counterterrorism.

It recruited four permanent specialist staff and aimed to add two more this year, police said.

As well, 16 officers from other districts or teams have been seconded in.

“Importantly, they are then able to return to their police districts and workgroups with enhanced OSINT skills and knowledge.”

Open Source work includes scanning the internet and dark web to detect and assess security threats.

Prior to the mosque attacks, neither the police nor security agencies were doing this much with up-to-date tools.


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