Frequently Asked Questions

The following are answers to frequently asked questions:

Questions about the OSINT Foundation


Does the OSINT Foundation produce OSINT or store?

No, the Foundation is not an operational OSINT element, it is a public charity and professional association. We neither produce nor store any OSINT - our website and member portal are entirely unclassified.


Do I have to be in the Intelligence Community to join?

No, membership is open to any US Citizen who has an interest in OSINT and who supports the mission and goals of the OSINT Foundation.


Why is membership restricted to U.S. Citizens?

Our mission is supporting current and emerging OSINT practitioners in the U.S. Intelligence Community. While our U.S. OSINT community works closely with Allied and coalition OSINT colleagues and partners, the Foundation at present is not equipped to address the security and export control issues of an international membership. We are happy to assist our international counterparts if they have an interest in establishing their own professional association.


Is the OSINT Foundation an industry group?

No, the Foundation is a professional association by and for OSINT practitioners. 


Why are you limited to OSINT for the Intelligence Community and not law enforcement or commercial OSINT?

As the Foundation begins operations, we are limiting our activities to the U.S. Intelligence Community in order to maximize our impact.  Over time, we can explore broadening the Foundation's mission to address the broader OSINT community.


Will the Foundation lobby Congress?

No, as a 501(c)(3) designated organization, we do not engage in political activities, though we are happy to make our white papers, best practices, and standards available to Congress. We advocate for the OSINT discipline and practitioners by providing thought leadership, building community, and recognizing excellence.


Does the Foundation make a profit or have shareholders?

No, the OSINT Foundation is an IRS designated 501(c)(3) public charity which is committed to fiscal transparency and frugal operations. Any excess funds are reinvested to further the work of the Foundation.


Why doesn't the Foundation use a .org domain address?

The domain name was not available and we decided the .com extension is most common. The Foundation also owns the domain and we may reconsider our primary domain name.


Why do you use the term "OSINT practitioner"?

The Foundation uses the term OSINT practitioner as a means of broadly representing those who produce and/or consume OSINT in the Intelligence Community. A key element of the Foundation's mission is to "... develop the practitioner community..." and we seek to do so by being value-added to both those who produce and consume OSINT.


Questions about Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)


How is OSINT different from PAI and CAI?

OSINT is the end product of publicly available information (PAI) and/or commercially available information (CAI) that has been acquired, vetted, analyzed and disseminated to fulfill an intelligence requirement. PAI acquired for other than intelligence purposes is not OSINT. CAI sold exclusively to the government is not publicly available, and therefore, not OSINT.


What is SOCMINT and how is it different from OSINT?

SOCMINT stands for social media intelligence, a disfavored term not officially adopted within the U.S. Intelligence Community. OSINT is a broader term which includes the exploitation of publicly available information from social media, print and broadcast media, gray literature, etc.  


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