NOTIONES Whitepaper on Intelligence Ethics

NOTIONES Whitepaper on Intelligence Ethics

The Intelligence community has an unquestionable role in pursuing the security of citizens and Nations. The evidence clearly suggests that ethical dilemmas are a constant trait of the intelligence profession, and can generate much public controversy when certain operations become public – consider as examples mass surveillance of citizens over social networks or torture and inhumane degrading treatment for the purposes of HUMINT intelligence collection. In addition to this, it can happen that an intelligence practitioner comes into possession of information of such seriousness that he or she considers the possibility of disseminating it, for example in the name of democracy or human rights, sometimes leading to scandals even at an international level (e.g. leak of confidential information, as in the Snowden case).

Therefore, everyday Intelligence practitioners have to make choices based on what is wrong and what is right – with respect to law, their conscience, the code of professional conduct, the indications of their agency, the possible consequences of such choices or actions, and many other aspects.

This white paper presents a literature review about ethical approaches in Intelligence, provides a legislative frame considering functional guarantees in selected EU countries and the National security exceptionalism, and proposes considerations and recommendations to the Intelligence community.

You can download and read the full paper here.

The paper is also available on Zenodo:


Giulia Venturi, Zanasi & Partners, Modena (Italy)