Back in 2018 our Chief Operating Officer David Purcell coined the term ‘temporary intelligence’ as he wrote about a rising trend for social media posts which disappear – you can read the blog HERE.
At NetWatch we realised that these temporary posts using platforms such as Instagram Stories represented a huge possibility for intelligence gathering, and set about creating a means to capture them. Temporary Intelligence Capture™ was later launched as a tool to safely gather Instagram Stories through our ToolSuite platform.
So with Temporary Intelligence Capture (TIC) now in operation and having been successfully used by our clients for some time, we thought it was worth taking a look at why its so crucial to any intelligence gathering exercise.
Ultimately, temporary elements of all major platforms are now commonplace whether its Twitter Fleets, Stories on Facebook or similar elements elsewhere. If the subjects of your investigation are using these features and you aren’t looking at them there is a fundamental flaw in your investigation that needs addressing.
Given the nature of temporary posts, users typically post very different content to that which they post on their standard social feeds. As such, we have found over the last two years that the content gathered often proves to be much more insightful and ultimately of more use to the investigation. In insurance investigations we have found way more indications of fraud in temporary posts, and in criminal cases its often here that the most evidence of criminality, incriminating or helpful intelligence is found.
Whether or not an investigation is compliant with local law will always depend on the reasons for undertaking it in the first place. However, if it’s lawful to undertake an investigation which encompasses open-source content such as social media – then it is certainly going to be lawful to include any temporary posts within that investigation.
As long as a social media profile is public and not set to private then the temporary posts are visible to anyone who navigates to that profile – as such they should be treated in the same way as you would treat any other post made to that profile when they are recorded as part of the investigation.
If you wish to capture the posts to a certain profile over a longer period of time, then you may require a different authority as this could be seen in the same manner as a period of surveillance. Ultimately, the approach to this will depend on whether your investigation is Civil or Criminal, with a RIPA potentially being required in criminal public authority investigations. Whereas in a civil case – the approach will be decided by a privacy team – with appropriate sign offs for a period of monitoring where monitoring is deemed proportionate.
In order for us to start including temporary posts within our investigation we felt it was essential to build a tool that could do this for us for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, if you view stories on Instagram via desktop or the app you will leave a footprint from the account you view them from. Leaving footprints is something we never want to do within our investigations, so we built TIC to make sure this did not happen. As such we are confident that we leave no trace when capturing temporary posts.
Secondly, we found that although there were other tools available online that could be used to capture stories when we took a look at the code – the information the user enters is harvested and sent to a third party. It is paramount that the details of the subjects we investigate remain confidential and we are certain we have no information leakage.
Finally, TIC allows us to ascertain the exact date and time a story was posted, this cannot be seen normally and can be essential to an investigation – it also makes the evidence way more powerful in any case if we can confirm right down to the very second when a story was posted.
Are your investigations delivering everything you need?
Temporary Intelligence Capture is available as a managed service from NetWatch or the tool can be used by your own teams in house via out ToolSuite. For more information and to request an initial call please get in touch.Contact Us