Private Intelligence Explained


 


 


A private intelligence agency (PIA) is defined in Michael Smith’s 2008 article titled "Private Intelligence Companies" as “a private sector or quasi-non-government organization devoted to the collection, analysis, and exploitation of information, through the evaluation of public sources and in cooperation with other institutions. Some private intelligence agencies obtain information deceptively or through on-the-ground activities for clients considered Human Intelligence (HUMINT) analysis.”



 


 

Government Intelligence is normally defined as “information that is special or different and must be kept internal and safe from possible adversaries.” In context, intelligence collection-- or sharing between public and private interests for the purpose of national security-- is not unusual at all. It was actually quite common during the Cold War. Perhaps the greatest modern-day change is not that "private" and "public" intelligence is shared between business and state, but the extent of bilateral communication. Further issues related to this change are government dominance in the public-private relationship, fragmentation in the intelligence process, gaps in the historical record, and implications for future generations of intelligence professionals.


 


 

Private agencies, like Aucoin Analytics, have made their services available to governments as well as individual consumers. They have also sold their services to large corporations with an interest in a particular category (i.e. crime, disease, corruption, etc.) or region (i.e. Middle East, Pacific region, UK, etc.) or to investigate perceived threats such as environmental groups or human rights groups.


Private intelligence agencies have also been prevalent in popular culture. Most notably in the Kingsman film franchise, Kingsman is a private intelligence service for the United Kingdom. In the second film, the Kingsman agency interacts with their American counterparts from "Statesman."

Recently, the private intelligence industry has boomed due to shifts in how the U.S. government is conducting espionage in the War on Terror. Functions previously performed by government civilians within Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), and other intelligence agencies are now mostly contractors from private intelligence corporations.



 


 

For the first time since intelligence agencies began outsourcing their work in the 1990s, much of the contracted U.S. intelligence work goes to only a few of companies. Those handful of companies include but are not limited to: Leidos, Booz Allen Hamilton, CSRA, SAIC, and CACI International. This concentration of contract companies marks a fundamental shift in an industry that was once a highly diverse mix of large military contractors, small and medium technology companies, and tiny “Beltway Bandits” surrounding Washington, D.C.


 


 

Government Intelligence is normally defined as “information that is special or different and must be kept internal and safe from possible adversaries.” In context, intelligence collection-- or sharing between public and private interests for the purpose of national security-- is not unusual at all. It was actually quite common during the Cold War. Perhaps the greatest modern-day change is not that "private" and "public" intelligence is shared between business and state, but the extent of bilateral communication. Further issues related to this change are government dominance in the public-private relationship, fragmentation in the intelligence process, gaps in the historical record, and implications for future generations of intelligence professionals.nals.als.ls.s.


 

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