About the CSIA

The Crowd-Sourced Intelligence Agency (CSIA) is an online application that replicates and displays some of the known techniques used by intelligence agencies to collect and process open source information. The app uses technical manuals, research reports, academic papers, leaked documents, and Freedom of Information Act files to construct an Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) system that is accessible to the public.

The goal of the CSIA is to expose potential problems, assumptions, or oversights inherent in current dataveillance processes in order to help people understand the effectiveness of OSINT processing and its impact on our privacy. The CSIA provides first-hand experience with social media monitoring, allowing users to choose how they want to navigate social media surveillance.

The app consists of several components:

  1. The Social Media Monitor, a surveillance interface where users evaluate Tweets based on their threat to national security.
  2. Two Naïve Bayes supervised machine-learning classifiers that automatically label tweets as suspicious or not suspicious that users can review for accuracy and idiosyncrasies.
  3. The Social Media Post Inspector, where users can submit text to see if a post is likely to be considered threatening by intelligence agencies before sharing it on social media.
  4. The Watchlist, where users can target themselves and others as subjects of social media monitoring, and which provides automated evaluations from our machine-learning classifiers to show how social media posts may be treated by OSINT surveillance systems.
  5. A Resource Library that links to documents that informed the creation of the app.

The CSIA was made possible in part by the support of the Science Gallery Dublin and was part of the SECRET exhibition.

Science Gallery

Jennifer and Derek at Radical/Networks 2015

The Crowd-Sourced Intelligence Agency is part of a practice-based research project that combines written scholarship with the material creation of artifacts to supplement gaps in available information. Research for the CSIA began by constructing an informational mosaic through the close reading of technical manuals, research reports, academic papers, and documents that were leaked or released through Freedom of Information Act requests. The application was then constructed to fit the contour of the missing pieces of the mosaic. The project is part of Derek Curry and Jennifer Gradecki’s doctoral research.

Derek Curry’s academic research and artwork investigates how automated decision-making technology used in algorithmic stock trading and Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) gathering have augmented the nature of human agency and provided new spaces for intervention. Curry earned his PhD from the Department of Media Study at SUNY Buffalo and his MFA from UCLA.

Jennifer Gradecki is an artist and theorist investigating information as a source of power and resistance: using methods of institutional critique, tactical media and information activism, she aims to open up secretive and specialized systems to analysis and critique. Gradecki is a PhD Candidate at SUNY Buffalo in the Department of Visual Studies and his MFA from UCLA.