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Publicly Available Information Explained

Every day, billions of people and countless devices create an ocean of data. The scale is unprecedented—and it will continue to grow as more people connect to the internet, more devices come online, and more of our lives move to the digital sphere.

Much of this data is publicly available information (PAI). As PAI proliferates, the digital landscape changes, and the challenge of connecting the dots grows. But when we connect those dots, PAI plays a critical role in safeguarding government and commercial interests. 

What is publicly available information (PAI)?

PAI is an umbrella term covering a range of data found in various public sources. PAI sources include:

  • Internet; open online publications, blogs, discussion groups, public-generated content, i.e., cell phone videos, user-created content, YouTube, and other public-facing social media websites, i.e., Reddit, Sino Weibo, Instagram, etc.
  • Media, digital newspapers, magazines, streaming radio, and television from the globe.
  • Public government data, public government reports, budgets, hearings, telephone directories, press conferences, websites, and speeches.
  • Professional and academic publications, information acquired from online journals, conferences, symposia, academic papers, dissertations, and theses open to the public.
  • Commercial data, commercial imagery, financial and industrial assessments, and public databases.
  • Grey literature, technical reports, preprints, patents, working papers, business documents, unpublished works, and newsletters.
  • Technical data, IP addresses, public domain whois information, open devices across the internet] including IoT (Internet of Things).

Why is leveraging publicly available information important in both commercial and national security?

Nearly every aspect of life today touches the internet leaving a digital footprint. As a result, many threats, ranging from fraudsters and criminal gangs to terrorists and nation-states, use cyberspace to communicate, plan, and carry out actions that threaten commercial and national security. 

Leveraging PAI in a digital world is critical because much of the intelligence that private companies and the U.S. require is hiding in plain sight. In fact, PAI supplies the ingredients of open-source intelligence (OSINT), which is the foundation for many intelligence products across the DoD and Intelligence communities (IC).

Why are AI-based tools necessary to analyze publicly available information?

The challenge of leveraging PAI is akin to boiling the ocean. The velocity and the magnitude of PAI have surpassed the human ability to locate and analyze relevant data. Simply put, intelligence analysts face information overload. To connect the dots, they must use leverage Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence or AI-based capabilities to analyze PAI at scale.

That process begins with the discovery phase, by leveraging AI-enabled, cross-lingual, conceptual, and persistent search of information from thousands of sources from around the world. From there, our platform serves as a single gateway to an end-to-end experience that helps decipher actionable insights. Finally, our AI-based tools empower security teams, businesses, and federal agencies by arming them with critical and timely insights on a single pane of glass for immediate analysis, action, and mission success.

How do good corporate citizens become thoughtful stewards of publicly available information?

Good corporate citizenship goes hand in hand with a commitment to the rule of law. As one of the first in our industry to hire a Chief Privacy Officer, Babel Street seeks to exceed customer needs in data protection, privacy, and compliance. We also employ a Privacy by Design approach in the development of new features and products. And to meet specific customer requirements, we offer customizable options within our software. Custom solutions range from user-specific data sources to top-level auditing and reporting capabilities. We take pride in being thoughtful stewards of PAI because we know that good corporate citizens abide by the law to defend the rule of law.

David Dillow
Director of Publicly Available Information (PAI) – Babel Street