Private intelligence agency

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A private intelligence agency (PIA) is a private sector (non-governmental) or quasi-non-government organization devoted to the collection, analysis, and exploitation of information, through the evaluation of public sources (OSINT or Open Source INTelligence) and cooperation with other institutions. [1] Some private intelligence agencies obtain information deceptively or through on-the-ground activities for clients. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

The private sector is the part of the economy, sometimes referred to as the citizen sector, which is owned by private individuals or groups, usually as a means of enterprise for profit, rather than being owned by the State.


Private agencies have made their services available to governments as well as individual consumers; they have also sold their services to large corporations with an interest or investment in the category (e.g. crime, disease, corruption, etc.) or the region (e.g. Middle East, Vietnam, Prague, etc.) or to investigate perceived threats such as environmental groups or human rights groups. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

Crime unlawful act forbidden and punishable by criminal law

In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term "crime" does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition, though statutory definitions have been provided for certain purposes. The most popular view is that crime is a category created by law; in other words, something is a crime if declared as such by the relevant and applicable law. One proposed definition is that a crime or offence is an act harmful not only to some individual but also to a community, society or the state. Such acts are forbidden and punishable by law.

Disease abnormal condition negatively affecting organisms

A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function of part or all of an organism, and that is not due to any external injury. Diseases are often construed as medical conditions that are associated with specific symptoms and signs. A disease may be caused by external factors such as pathogens or by internal dysfunctions. For example, internal dysfunctions of the immune system can produce a variety of different diseases, including various forms of immunodeficiency, hypersensitivity, allergies and autoimmune disorders.

In general, corruption is a form of dishonesty or criminal activity undertaken by a person or organization entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire illicit benefit, or, abuse of entrusted power for one's private gain. Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement, though it may also involve practices that are legal in many countries. Political corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain. Corruption is most commonplace in kleptocracies, oligarchies, narco-states and mafia states.This is the working definition used by Transparency International (TI), applying to both the public and private sectors. The CPI focuses on corruption in the public sector, or corruption which involves public officials, civil servants or politicians.

Some private intelligence agencies use online perception management [12] , social media influencing/manipulation campaigns, strategic disinformation [13] (such as fake news production/propaganda production [14] ), opposition research and political campaigns using social media and artifical intelligence such as Psy-Group, Cambridge Analytica and Black Cube. [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] The Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab described the activity of Archimedes Group as practicing "information warfare". [20]

Fake news websites are Internet websites that deliberately publish fake news—hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news—often using social media to drive web traffic and amplify their effect. Unlike news satire, fake news websites deliberately seek to be perceived as legitimate and taken at face value, often for financial or political gain. Such sites have promoted political falsehoods in Germany, Indonesia and the Philippines, Sweden, Myanmar, and the United States. Many sites originate in, or are promoted by, Russia, North Macedonia, Romania, and some individuals in the United States.

In the politics of the United States, opposition research is the practice of collecting information on a political opponent or other adversary that can be used to discredit or otherwise weaken them. The information can include biographical, legal, criminal, medical, educational, or financial history or activities, as well as prior media coverage, or the voting record of a politician. Opposition research can also entail using "trackers" to follow an individual and record their activities or political speeches.

In computer science, artificial intelligence (AI), sometimes called machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans. Colloquially, the term "artificial intelligence" is often used to describe machines that mimic "cognitive" functions that humans associate with the human mind, such as "learning" and "problem solving".

The private intelligence industry has boomed due to shifts in how the U.S. government is conducting espionage in the War on Terror. Some $56 billion (USD) or 70% of the $80 billion national intelligence budget of the United States was in 2013 earmarked for the private sector according to the New York Times' Tim Shorrock. Functions previously performed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), and other intelligence agencies are now outsourced to private intelligence corporations. [21]

Espionage or spying is the act of obtaining secret or confidential information without the permission of the holder of the information. Spies help agencies uncover secret information. Any individual or spy ring, in the service of a government, company or independent operation, can commit espionage. The practice is clandestine, as it is by definition unwelcome. In some circumstances it may be a legal tool of law enforcement and in others it may be illegal and punishable by law. Espionage is a method of intelligence gathering which includes information gathering from non-disclosed sources.

War on Terror International military campaign that started after the 11 September 2001

The War on Terror, also known as the Global War on Terrorism, is an international military campaign that was launched by the United States government after the September 11 attacks against the United States. The naming of the campaign uses a metaphor of war to refer to a variety of actions that do not constitute a specific war as traditionally defined. U.S. president George W. Bush first used the term "war on terrorism" on 16 September 2001, and then "war on terror" a few days later in a formal speech to Congress. In the latter speech, George Bush stated, "Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them." The term was originally used with a particular focus on countries associated with al-Qaeda. The term was immediately criticised by such people as Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and more nuanced terms subsequently came to be used by the Bush administration to publicly define the international campaign led by the U.S. It was never used as a formal designation of U.S. operations in internal government documentation.

Central Intelligence Agency National intelligence agency of the United States

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States, tasked with gathering, processing, and analyzing national security information from around the world, primarily through the use of human intelligence (HUMINT). As one of the principal members of the United States Intelligence Community (IC), the CIA reports to the Director of National Intelligence and is primarily focused on providing intelligence for the President and Cabinet of the United States.

Private intelligence agencies have also been seen in fiction. Rubicon, a TV series from AMC, was devoted to the intelligence consultancy American Policy Institute (API). In the Kingsman franchise, we see the inner workings of Kingsman, a private intelligence service of which main character Eggsy is a member. In Season 5 of the spy-thriller series Covert Affairs, we see the CIA contract missions to a private military company called McQuaid Security which Annie Walker eventually joins.

<i>Rubicon</i> (TV series) American television series

Rubicon is an American television series created by Jason Horwitch and produced by Henry Bromell that was broadcast on the AMC television network in 2010. The series centers on an intelligence analyst working for the American Policy Institute (API) in New York City. He discovers that he may be working with members of a secret society that manipulates world events on a grand scale. The series stars James Badge Dale, Jessie Collins, Lauren Hodges, Miranda Richardson, Dallas Roberts, Christopher Evan Welch, Arliss Howard, and Michael Cristofer.

AMC (TV channel) American TV channel

AMC is an American pay television channel that is an owned flagship property of AMC Networks. The channel's programming primarily consists of theatrically released films, along with a limited amount of original programming. The channel's name originally stood for "American Movie Classics", but since 2002 the full name has been de-emphasized as a result of a major shift in its programming.

<i>Kingsman</i> (franchise) a British-American media franchise based on the adventures of the agents of Kingsman

Kingsman is a British-American media franchise based on the adventures of the agents of Kingsman, a fictional secret organization. It began in 2012 with the Marvel comic The Secret Service, with two sequels following in 2017 and 2018. The comic series was created by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.

List of private intelligence companies by continent

Archimedes Group is a Tel Aviv-based private intelligence agency that has operated political campaigns using social media since 2017.

Psy-Group is a former Israeli private intelligence agency which was owned and operated by Joel Zamel from Petah Tikva, which closed after revelations that it was under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The company had conducted both online perception management, social media influencing/manipulation campaigns, opposition research honey traps and clandestine on-the-ground activities for clients. Royi Burstien, a former lieutenant colonel in the Israeli army, headed an intelligence unit under Israel’s government before starting Psy-Group and acting as the vice-president of business development.

Aegis Defence Services is a British private military and private security company with overseas offices in Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Somalia and Mozambique. It is part of the Aegis Group of companies, which includes Aegis LLC, which is based in the United States. It was founded in 2002 by Tim Spicer, who was previously CEO of the private military company Sandline International; Jeffrey Day, an entrepreneur; and Mark Bullough and Dominic Armstrong, former investment bankers.

See also

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James Bamford American historian and writer

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