Communications of the Association for Information Systems

Author ORCID Identifier

Ersin Dincelli: 0000-0002-8773-4714

Craig Van Slyke: 0000-0003-3924-1859

Alper Yayla: 0000-0002-0785-0601


Over 600,000 people go missing every year in the US alone. Despite the extensive resources allocated to investigating these cases, the high volume of missing person cases constitutes one of the biggest challenges for law enforcement agencies. One approach to tackle this challenge is using crowdsourcing. That is, volunteers use freely available tools and techniques to aid the existing efforts to investigate missing person cases. Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) refers to gathering information from publicly available sources and analyzing it through a comprehensive set of open-source tools to produce meaningful and actionable intelligence. OSINT has been applied to address various societal challenges and crimes, including environmental abuse, human rights violations, child exploitation, domestic violence, disasters, and locating missing people. Building on this premise, this case examines a crowdsourced initiative called Trace Labs that aims to assist law enforcement agencies in solving missing person cases using OSINT tools. The case emphasizes socio-technical aspects of cybersecurity, highlighting both the bright and dark sides of technology. It demonstrates the potential of information systems to serve the public good by examining topics such as open-source software, crowdsourcing, and intelligence gathering, while acknowledging that the very same underlying technology can be used for malicious purposes.





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