A private intelligence agency is a private sector (non-governmental) organization devoted to the collection and analysis of information, most commonly through the evaluation of public sources (OSINT or Open Source INTelligence) and cooperation with other institutions. Some private agencies make their services available to governments as well as individual consumers; however, most of these agencies sell their services to large cooperations with an interest or investment in the category (e.g. crime, disease, corruption, etc.) or the region (e.g. Middle East, Vietnam, Prague, etc.). Some private agencies also provide related services, such as security personnel, surveillance equipment, medical evacuation or traveler's insurance.
The private intelligence industry has boomed due to shifts in how the U.S. government is conducting espionage in the War on Terror. Functions previously performed by the Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence agencies are now outsourced to private intelligence corporations.
- Companies Turn To Private Spies, Peter Lewis, Fortune, August 23, 2004