New IR and SAR satellite data sources could make it harder for criminals and lawbreakers to hide and provide open-source intelligence and data journalists with new firepower.

SAR image by Capella Space

The right satellite images can be the ‘smoking gun’ in an investigation against mischief and wrongdoing. Our own investigations have proven the value of satellite data. Whether it’s images portraying crimes against humanity, severe environmental misconduct or just clues that something might go wrong for further verification, visual intelligence can be an essential mean to present a corpus delicti.

For my own investigations, this has proven to be highly effective. But there are caveats to conventional satellite data. Clouds constitute one major problem. They can cover at the wrong time an area of interest and miss the action. …


Open-source/OSINT data shows how the sector’s unethical marketing and promotion practices continue. It risks jeopardising the future of more ethical conservation efforts in South Africa.

Trump Jr is the poster child of trophy hunting PR and spoke at one of the largest trophy hunting conventions last year, the Safari Club International (SCI) convention. Trump Jr was spotted in images posed by African Safari Films production, one of the largest companies in South Africa to assists international hunters to film and promote their trophy hunts.

TLTR:

  • South African (SA) trophy hunting organisers and film productions fail to live up to ethical standards in their promotion material. Video and image footage glorifies the killing of animals and fail to meet minimum display standards
  • Conservation researcher dictates that trophy hunting foots the bill for conservation efforts in South Africa. A decline of it and national bans threaten conservation efforts but the future could become more ethical if the industry changes
  • Unethical promotion material risks attracting the wrong hunting audience (hunters with bows/crossbows, demand for canned hunting). It stymies advancements towards more ethical practices
  • Trophy Hunting film production companies…

Data reveals how major UK anti-vaxxer and anti-lockdown groups migrated their supporters to new social media platforms after conventional platforms censored their content due to #disinformation and misleading claims.

Piers Corbyn speaking at an anti-lockdown protest (Image: Dreamstime). Reporters found Mr. Corbyn, the elder brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, willing to accept donations to his website to channel the money to StandUpX, a conspiracy theory and disinformation spreading group that organises protests across the UK

StandUpX, also known for its anti-5G conspiracy theories and #disinformation, is among the most aggressive, well-organised and dangerous anti-vaxxer and anti-lockdown protest groups.

StandupX, (also often referred to as SUX) organised protests all across Britain over the past year and built potent local chapters. Media organisations such as Channel4News fact-checked some of their claims and confirmed misleading and outright false information.


A guide for open data journalists and human rights analysts on how to follow the trail of potentially illegal fishing and transhipment operations across West Africa (and how to use the same logic for other parts of the world)

West Africa is a hotspot for illegal- and over-fishing. It is also a flourishing piracy zone and stuffed with some of the poorest countries in the world. Last week, our investigation dropped that highlighted the problems of transshipments and European reefer fleets. The term transshipment describes the transferring of fish catch from fishing vessels to larger refrigerated cargo ships (though, there are other types of transshipments, too).

Despite local authorisation programs, the practice is still highly dodgy. It muddies the water for so many sectors. It affects how well we can track fish catch amid the larger food supply chain…


As use increases, drones cause more and more public irritation, and citizens might ponder how to combat them on their own, possibly using the sort of jamming devices that are Illegal in the UK. In an attempt to expose the practice, we tested how it is to buy one. It revealed how easily they are being sold and shipped.

Hikvision Drone Jammer: Source: Twitter

Drones can be invasive and irritating, and as their use has spiralled during lockdown, so has the number of complaints about them. We don’t have confirmed UK statistics yet and have to rely on figures from individual police forces, but the trend seems clear, pointing towards a growing problem.

The reason behind burgeoning complaints is probably a mixed bag of factors. A surge in drone use, both by law-enforcement services and hobbyists, may have been caused by more solitary time under lockdown restrictions and tight regulations across the UK. All may have contributed to what some forces reported.

Legally, members…


Leading open-source intelligence (OSINT) stories can be broken down into a few elementary steps. This post introduces a methodology on how to structure OSINT for news journalism.

Open-source intelligence (OSINT) can arm modern investigative journalist to publish scoops. In addition, methodologies in this guide may help to structure the journalism research.

Open-source journalism can be messy. It’s often packed with facts, cross-references to tools and databases, chargon and data points. Structure can help journalists to guide them through the investigation and lead the way on how to tell an engaging narrative. Neither is straightforward in this biz. Any additional assistance to introduce structure seem therefore helpful.

Investigators are often no storytellers. Here, we’ll add a few methodologies on how to cover complex OSINT stories in a matter of a few steps. Our journalistic goal isn't to sound smart and nifty. Instead, it’s to sell an appealing story that readers get. They…


Open-source intelligence and interviews tell a vivid story about how oil company Texaco (later bought by Chevron), when accused of devastating pollution in the rainforest of Ecuador, managed to make its defence a personal case against a human-rights lawyer. Explained here are the tactics and efforts with open-source information and we show how it shifted America’s attention away from one of the worst environmental disasters in history.

Dreamstime/Twitter

Steven Donziger is a human-rights lawyer. He has spent the past one-and-a-half years at home. But not, like many of us, under lockdown. He was put under house arrest, on the orders of a judge in the state of New York.

In 2014 that judge, Lewis A Kaplan, had found Donziger and his Ecuadoran allies guilty of bribery and fraud in the US. Kaplan was holding investments in multiple funds with Chevron holdings at the time of his rulings. This judgement complicated the fight by the plaintiffs to collect compensation in the US for the environmental damages in Ecuador. …


The Parler data breach opened up sensitive private data to millions of users, some potentially part of the groups of rioters who stormed Capitol Hill.

After Amazon suspended the platform's Webhosting, Parler went dark on Monday. Apple and Google said Parler was removed from app stores because the operators have failed to moderate posts which encouraged violence and crime.

Hackers tried to rescue as much data as possible. This may have led to millions of records being released.

Important correction: data was accessed but there was some misinformation that was repeated by some OSINT contacts, which turned out to be false:

The Reddit rumor that hackers gained access to more private data on the site — due to SMS provider Twilio cutting ties with Parler…


What happened last week in Washington, D.C. shows there is a need for journalists to be able to recognize who belongs to right-wing domestic terrorist groups. Below some OSINT tools that aid along the way and how to use them.

Dreamstime

This week was overshadowed by the events at Capitol Hill. What happened? By now well documented, on the west side of the building an angry mob gathered and overpowered a police barrier and scaffolding that were put up for the upcoming inauguration. They entered the building and a number of people died. Members of the mob waved the confederate flag after breaching US capitol security and committed other acts of violence and intrusion.

What stood out was the debate by many online media users about who these people are and who they belong to. On the question of who some…


A visual open-source intelligence (OSINT) investigation and training post on how to track narco planes with open-source intelligence sources (by BH and MB)

The entrance to Hacienda Napoles (2014), the ranch of drug dealer Pablo Escobar, a Colombian drug kingpin and narcoterrorist who was the founder and sole leader of the Medellín Cartel. He was one of the godfathers of narco plane trafficking which started for him in the mid-70s. He later bought a whole range of bigger airplanes which allegedly also included a Learjet. Atop the entrance gate, a replica of the Piper PA-18 Super Cub airplane with the tail number HK-617-P.

“I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats,” Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, more commonly known as El Chapo, told Rolling Stone magazine in 2016.

The drug kingpin wasn’t exaggerating. For a long time, he and his Sinaloa Cartel owned several times more aircraft than Mexico’s biggest airline. According to public records obtained by Mexican newspaper El Universal, until 2016, the country’s military seized 599 aircraft from the criminal organization. Mexico’s biggest airline-owned 127 back then. According to the U.S. …

Techjournalist

Investigative journalist with a technical edge, interested in open source investigations, satellite imgs, R, python, AI, data journalism and injustice

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