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  #1  
Old 02-01-2012, 12:15 PM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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What are your rights if you are being followed/monitored by a private investigator?

Note: I'm not actually being watched by a PI to my knowledge, and am not losing sleep over worrying about it.

Anyway, if you discover substantial evidence that a private investigator (PI) is watching you, what rights do you have?

E.g., Do you have a right to know who has hired the PI, a right to know what information the PI has gathered (e.g. so you can dispute it), or the right to tell them to take a hike or else be sued or reported to the police for stalking?

We're assuming that the PI has the proper license. Any jurisdiction would be acceptable.

Last edited by robert_columbia; 02-01-2012 at 12:16 PM..
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  #2  
Old 02-01-2012, 12:24 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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You could call 911 and report a stalker; I wonder if the police would tell you what they found when they investigate.

I forget which TV show or movie where the person stopped near a school or playground, then called 911 to report a stranger parked in a car near a playground just watching...

Last edited by md2000; 02-01-2012 at 12:26 PM..
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  #3  
Old 02-01-2012, 12:26 PM
JBDivmstr JBDivmstr is offline
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Lead 'em on a 'wild goose chase'?
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  #4  
Old 02-01-2012, 12:30 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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I'd assume you have the same rights you always have. If someone is committing a crime, like stalking, you can call the police. If they aren't committing a crime, why do you think you have any special rights concerning innocent people?
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  #5  
Old 02-01-2012, 12:47 PM
Spoke Spoke is offline
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Here's a typical stalking statute. Seems to me that proving criminal intent would be pretty dicey.
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  #6  
Old 02-02-2012, 11:31 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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But if you report someone who appears to be stalking, the police have to investigate. Nothing ruins a career like ignoring a stalking cmplaint and then having to explain a murder-suicide to the media. If they don't explain the situation to you after the investigation to your satisfaction, as far as you know, you are still being stalked... So I assume they tell you it's OK, he's a PI, so you will stop calling 911.

Beyond that, who hired him and why is nobody's business but him and his client, unless the police decide it's something shady like an ex hiring a PI to stalk his wife for him...

Once you know you're being followed, you can do the usual like look for GPS trackers, etc.

Last edited by md2000; 02-02-2012 at 11:32 AM..
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  #7  
Old 02-02-2012, 02:05 PM
CJJ* CJJ* is offline
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If you discover the investigation as it is in progress, some public acknowledgement would, I believe, end the investigation immediately, since the whole value of such an investigation is that the information was gathered without the target's knowledge (if you know I know you're following me, why would you continue? I could be leading you on a wild goose chase). Calling 911 would probably do it, as would walking up to the PI and saying "I know you're following me."

So then what are the target's rights after the investigation concluded? In the confrontation I describe above, does the PI have a professional obligation to identify himself and/or show his license. My understanding is professional PI's are licensed by the state--are there any licensing regulations that cover this? Are there further laws regarding your rights to know about the details of the investigation?

Last edited by CJJ*; 02-02-2012 at 02:06 PM..
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  #8  
Old 02-02-2012, 03:22 PM
Quartz Quartz is online now
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I imagine that this situation occurs quite frequently with people being vetted. A quiet word to the security controller along the lines of, "Is your investigator being deliberately blatant?" might do wonders.
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  #9  
Old 02-02-2012, 03:47 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Originally Posted by CJJ* View Post
So then what are the target's rights after the investigation concluded? In the confrontation I describe above, does the PI have a professional obligation to identify himself and/or show his license. My understanding is professional PI's are licensed by the state--are there any licensing regulations that cover this? Are there further laws regarding your rights to know about the details of the investigation?
In all the TV shows I've seen, our first and best source of education on these matters- who hires a PI is a confidential matter between the PI and the client. He has no obligation to tell the police unless there is reason to believe the job is part of a criminal act. The PI certainly has no obligation to tell the surveillee anything at all. Why would you imagine any two private individuals are obliged to share these details. OTOH, when it does get to court (i.e. the PI's looking for dirt on Ralph Nader for the car companies) this is discoverable details.

As I said earlier, you can probably arrange it so he looks so suspicious (i.e. get him to park next to a playground, then have the parents/teacher phone it in) that soon the police will clue him in to smarten up or lose his license.

Last edited by md2000; 02-02-2012 at 03:48 PM..
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  #10  
Old 02-02-2012, 04:09 PM
anson2995 anson2995 is offline
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Years ago I called the police to report a suspicious vehicle parked outside my house. The person inside was taking pictures, and I'd seen them there several times within the previous week or so. I thought maybe it was a burglar casing my neighbor's house.

Before too long, a police car rolled up, the officer got out and talked to the driver for several minutes, then left. Sometime later I got a phone call from that officer who said he'd talked to the driver, who turned out to be an investigator for an insurance company. My neighbor had filed a worker's comp claim and the investigator was trying to see if the guy was faking it. (Turns out he was.)

Apologized to the officer for wasting his time and he said not a waste of time at all.
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  #11  
Old 02-02-2012, 04:12 PM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
In all the TV shows I've seen, our first and best source of education on these matters- who hires a PI is a confidential matter between the PI and the client. He has no obligation to tell the police unless there is reason to believe the job is part of a criminal act. The PI certainly has no obligation to tell the surveillee anything at all. Why would you imagine any two private individuals are obliged to share these details. OTOH, when it does get to court (i.e. the PI's looking for dirt on Ralph Nader for the car companies) this is discoverable details.

...
I was thinking along the lines of credit reports and bureaus and how they must make your report available for you to view and allow you to dispute items on it.

Suppose I am going through a divorce and my soon-to-be ex-wife hires a PI to see if I am "seeing" anyone else, and the PI films my car being driven to a local house of ill repute and the PI duly notes that in his report, but the truth was that I was actually in Chicago for that week on business and was lending my car to a friend for that week. I would hope that I would have the right to review the report and say, wait, that may be my car, but look at these tickets and this hotel receipt - I was in Chicago, that wasn't me driving the car to that place.
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  #12  
Old 02-02-2012, 04:38 PM
Telemark Telemark is offline
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Originally Posted by robert_columbia View Post
I would hope that I would have the right to review the report and say, wait, that may be my car, but look at these tickets and this hotel receipt - I was in Chicago, that wasn't me driving the car to that place.
Why would you have any rights to that report? You didn't pay for it. Once it's used in a legal case that's different, but not before.
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  #13  
Old 02-02-2012, 05:30 PM
teela brown teela brown is offline
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A confrontation with him would be an excuse to deliver a movie line:

"She's not my special lady, she's my fucking lady friend. I'm just helping her conceive, man!"
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  #14  
Old 02-02-2012, 11:34 PM
digs digs is offline
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Have you people never seen a bad movie?

You need to get the investigator following you through busy crowds, preferably in a European capital (if your budget's tight, Vancouver can double for Prague). But the point is to be able to run down wet cobblestoned streets, dodging flower vendors and beautiful peasant girls with baguettes.

Then turn the tables on him by evading him (I enjoy the "bribe the local urchins to delay him" tactic). Then double back and take him by surprise in an alley behind the boulangerie. After you've disarmed him, you can torture the name of his employer out of him.
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  #15  
Old 02-02-2012, 11:40 PM
DaveBfd DaveBfd is offline
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I emm.. "know" a PI. They usually call in with the cops and let them know what is going on, so if anyone calls the cops on them nothing really happens. At least over here in Canadia.
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  #16  
Old 02-03-2012, 09:09 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Originally Posted by Telemark View Post
Why would you have any rights to that report? You didn't pay for it. Once it's used in a legal case that's different, but not before.
Exactly. If the evidence is presented in a court case, then you have the right to depose the investigator, determine who paid for the report, and whether details were fudged or mistaken ("He went to..." vs. "someone I could not see drove the car to..."). Once in court, all relevant questions must be answered.

Until then, it's a private matter between the investigator and the person who hired them. You have a right to see credit reports because the credit agency makes them available to any customer and it can significantly affect your life; PI's do not compile a behaviour list to sell to all customers, they do one job for one customer.

I'm guessing even background checks for government agencies have a security/privacy exception to the Freedom of Information act.
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  #17  
Old 02-03-2012, 09:13 AM
Mr. Slant Mr.  Slant is offline
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I'm wondering if following the PI around for the next several days would be stalking....
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  #18  
Old 02-03-2012, 10:17 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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I'm wondering if following the PI around for the next several days would be stalking....
He might think you're an irish monk...



or is that reference too subtle?

Last edited by Qadgop the Mercotan; 02-03-2012 at 10:17 AM..
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  #19  
Old 02-03-2012, 10:26 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
or is that reference too subtle?
So far. Clue us, or at least me, in.
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  #20  
Old 02-03-2012, 11:30 AM
Mr. Slant Mr.  Slant is offline
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Qtm has defeated my store of information with that reference.
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  #21  
Old 02-03-2012, 11:34 AM
teela brown teela brown is offline
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Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
He might think you're an irish monk...



or is that reference too subtle?
Spelt "shamus" or "seamus"?
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  #22  
Old 02-03-2012, 01:56 PM
MsJinx MsJinx is offline
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This is not an occasion to call 911. It is not an emergency unless you are in immediate physical danger. 911 IS FOR EMERGENCIES.

The police department has a non-emergency line for this type of things. You'd probably call this a 'suspicious circumstance', and an officer would be assigned to speak to you, either by phone or in person.
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  #23  
Old 02-03-2012, 02:17 PM
pkbites pkbites is offline
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Many of you are rather ignorant as to what the legal definition of "stalking is".

In most places one had to be licensed to be a P.I.. Do you really think the state would issue licenses for an occupation where one of the major activities was illegal?

Sometimes a P.I. will inform the locals of his/her presence, sometimes they don't. Each case/location will determine if it's for the best. There is usually no legal requirement to do so.

After 30 years in law enforcement I can tell you that we rarely tell anyone the guy they called in about is an investigator. The response to the complainant is something like "we checked him out, everything is fine. Nothing to worry about."
But if the P.I. is smart they'll leave the area that day, wait a while and come back another day with a different vehicle and sit in a different location.
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  #24  
Old 02-03-2012, 06:06 PM
JacobSwan JacobSwan is online now
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A paranoid friend hired a PI to follow me a few years ago and I wasn't impressed.
I spotted him within a few yards of leaving the tube station and confirmed he was following me by the time I reached the first corner.

I didn't know why he was following me at the time, but I decided to have a little fun with him. I spent a large amount of time struggling to tie my shoe laces while he stood nearby trying to look nonchalant. He was pretending to be lost so I decided to help him out and walked right up to him and asked if he needed directions.

Cue a look of sheer panic and a lot of stammering from him. He asked for directions to Hatton Garden, which I knew there was a signpost for just behind me. He wasn't quick at thinking on his feet!

I gave him directions and headed off that way myself, but would you believe my shoelaces kept coming undone? Every time I stopped to retie them he had to stop as well and try not to look suspicious.

After the 3rd time, I approached him again and told him I was heading to Hatton Garden and he was more than welcome to follow me if he wished. Cue more stammering and he gave up and turned back. Which was lucky for him as my next plan involved a small alleyway behind Leather Lane market which I know always contains a few broken pallets and crates. If he hadn't given up by choice I would have encouraged him a little bit with a plank to the head. No urchins or flower sellers required.
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  #25  
Old 02-03-2012, 06:14 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Spelt "shamus" or "seamus"?
Very good! That must be it.
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  #26  
Old 02-03-2012, 07:52 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Originally Posted by teela brown View Post
Spelt "shamus" or "seamus"?
Ah, another "Big Lebowski" fan!

The Dude confronts the man who has been following him. Said man has mistaken The Dude for a fellow PI:

Da Fino, Private Snoop: Hey, relax, man! I'm a brother shamus!
The Dude: Brother Seamus? Like an Irish monk?
Da Fino, Private Snoop: What the fuck are you talking about?
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  #27  
Old 02-03-2012, 07:59 PM
KneeSid KneeSid is offline
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That's what the PIs want you to think. They hire a homeless guy, clean him up and put him in a location where you spot him. Then you think you made the PI and confront him or lead him on a wild goose chase. All the while the REAL PI is still out there.

So when this homeless guy quits following you, you think you won, but the REAL PI was and is still following you.
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  #28  
Old 02-03-2012, 08:26 PM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is offline
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Just hire your own PI, with the mission of finding out why and by whom you are being surveilled.

As an answer to the OP, I presume that is at least one of the rights you have.

Last edited by kaylasdad99; 02-03-2012 at 08:27 PM..
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  #29  
Old 02-04-2012, 01:42 AM
PlainJain PlainJain is offline
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Once you know you're being followed, you can do the usual like look for GPS trackers, etc.
Get followed a lot, do ya?
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  #30  
Old 02-04-2012, 02:26 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Just hire your own PI, with the mission of finding out why and by whom you are being surveilled.
Then the first PI would have to hire another PI to trail the second PI. Eventually you end up in an infinite loop that resembles a conga line.
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  #31  
Old 02-04-2012, 07:56 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Originally Posted by MsJinx View Post
This is not an occasion to call 911. It is not an emergency unless you are in immediate physical danger. 911 IS FOR EMERGENCIES.

The police department has a non-emergency line for this type of things. You'd probably call this a 'suspicious circumstance', and an officer would be assigned to speak to you, either by phone or in person.
A man lurking in a parked car next to a playground? How much more of an emergency can you get? Think of the children!!! (Even if it is 10PM)
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  #32  
Old 03-04-2012, 11:26 AM
londono londono is offline
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no offense but you sure you're not dilusional? in any case they rarely need to follow you at all lately, especially if you have a smart phone. Btw if you're not paranoid delusional you may become after reading this.

As far as your rights they don't have to explain anything.

Same way as companies like LexisNexis don't have to explain squat about the type of records they have on you... This is not a gov agency so FOIA does not apply..
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  #33  
Old 03-04-2012, 11:49 AM
Snnipe 70E Snnipe 70E is offline
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Originally Posted by MsJinx View Post
This is not an occasion to call 911. It is not an emergency unless you are in immediate physical danger. 911 IS FOR EMERGENCIES.

The police department has a non-emergency line for this type of things. You'd probably call this a 'suspicious circumstance', and an officer would be assigned to speak to you, either by phone or in person.
Maybe in your city. Last time I called the non emergency number all I got was a recording to call another number that had me call another number that had a recording that my call would be answered the next business day. San Jose Ca.
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  #34  
Old 03-05-2012, 09:21 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Originally Posted by md2000
Once you know you're being followed, you can do the usual like look for GPS trackers, etc.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlainJain View Post
Get followed a lot, do ya?
Not me, but you can read the media...
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/201...g-device/all/1
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  #35  
Old 03-05-2012, 10:17 AM
Sigmagirl Sigmagirl is offline
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Originally Posted by digs View Post
Have you people never seen a bad movie?

You need to get the investigator following you through busy crowds, preferably in a European capital (if your budget's tight, Vancouver can double for Prague). But the point is to be able to run down wet cobblestoned streets, dodging flower vendors and beautiful peasant girls with baguettes.

Then turn the tables on him by evading him (I enjoy the "bribe the local urchins to delay him" tactic). Then double back and take him by surprise in an alley behind the boulangerie. After you've disarmed him, you can torture the name of his employer out of him.
Total fail if you don't knock over a fruit cart.
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  #36  
Old 03-05-2012, 02:14 PM
Lazlo Lazlo is offline
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Originally Posted by digs View Post
Have you people never seen a bad movie?

You need to get the investigator following you through busy crowds, preferably in a European capital (if your budget's tight, Vancouver can double for Prague). But the point is to be able to run down wet cobblestoned streets, dodging flower vendors and beautiful peasant girls with baguettes.
Must be done:

http://youtu.be/N_IAb_XmVa8
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  #37  
Old 03-05-2012, 06:23 PM
BigT BigT is offline
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Originally Posted by pkbites View Post
Many of you are rather ignorant as to what the legal definition of "stalking is".

In most places one had to be licensed to be a P.I.. Do you really think the state would issue licenses for an occupation where one of the major activities was illegal?

Sometimes a P.I. will inform the locals of his/her presence, sometimes they don't. Each case/location will determine if it's for the best. There is usually no legal requirement to do so.

After 30 years in law enforcement I can tell you that we rarely tell anyone the guy they called in about is an investigator. The response to the complainant is something like "we checked him out, everything is fine. Nothing to worry about."
But if the P.I. is smart they'll leave the area that day, wait a while and come back another day with a different vehicle and sit in a different location.
How in the world is it legal? The right to privacy is directly in the Constitution (as defined by the courts). Only information that is reasonably in the public sphere is allowable. Heck, if PIs work at all like on TV, then they regularly trespass in order to do their job. And perhaps even steal.

Even putting a GPS on a car has been ruled illegal--as you have trespassed on that car.
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  #38  
Old 03-05-2012, 06:33 PM
Lasciel Lasciel is offline
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Originally Posted by BigT View Post
How in the world is it legal? The right to privacy is directly in the Constitution (as defined by the courts). Only information that is reasonably in the public sphere is allowable. Heck, if PIs work at all like on TV, then they regularly trespass in order to do their job. And perhaps even steal.

Even putting a GPS on a car has been ruled illegal--as you have trespassed on that car.
There's a lot of grey areas in privacy, and people think a lot of stuff about them is private when its not. Its culturally private, but not legally so.

Your trash? Not private.

Your house if people can see through the windows? Not private.

Your property, if people can see what's on it from a public location? Not private.

Your activities in public (ie, using roads to travel around, and your arrival and departure at various places, regardless of whether or not the places in question are private themselves?) Not private.

Sucks, but there's quite a lot of info that a PI can get, totally legally, which you would really prefer them not to have access to.
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  #39  
Old 03-05-2012, 06:41 PM
Princhester Princhester is online now
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Originally Posted by BigT View Post
How in the world is it legal? The right to privacy is directly in the Constitution (as defined by the courts). Only information that is reasonably in the public sphere is allowable. Heck, if PIs work at all like on TV, then they regularly trespass in order to do their job. And perhaps even steal.

Even putting a GPS on a car has been ruled illegal--as you have trespassed on that car.
You've answered your own question, really. They work by obtaining information reasonably in the public sphere and not by doing stuff like on TV. Mostly they sit in cars with cameras and document what is visible from there.

The reality is very very boring. It involves sitting around doing nothing, mostly.

Surprisingly, for TV they make shit up in order to make it exciting. Sorry to break it to you.
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  #40  
Old 03-05-2012, 07:42 PM
J Cubed J Cubed is offline
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How in the world is it legal? The right to privacy is directly in the Constitution (as defined by the courts).

Even putting a GPS on a car has been ruled illegal--as you have trespassed on that car.
The Constitution defines the rights of citizens and states with regard to the Federal government. The Army can't lodge soldiers in your home, but your employer could make it a condition of your employment.
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  #41  
Old 03-05-2012, 10:32 PM
Animastryfe Animastryfe is offline
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Originally Posted by digs View Post
Have you people never seen a bad movie?

You need to get the investigator following you through busy crowds, preferably in a European capital (if your budget's tight, Vancouver can double for Prague). But the point is to be able to run down wet cobblestoned streets, dodging flower vendors and beautiful peasant girls with baguettes.

Then turn the tables on him by evading him (I enjoy the "bribe the local urchins to delay him" tactic). Then double back and take him by surprise in an alley behind the boulangerie. After you've disarmed him, you can torture the name of his employer out of him.
What places in Vancouver can double for Prague?
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