I guess it’s a given that every major company has a well-staffed department which is charged with collecting and carefully studying what otherwise (if done by a government) would be referred to as open source intelligence: they collect every peace of information about their competitors and their products which are freely available, earning reports, court documents, white papers, patent filings, news paper articles, postings on blogs and social media and much, much more.
But I was wondering whether big companies go a step or two further than that and indulge in activities which are typically associated with intelligence agencies, for instance:
Would Motor Company A send out “agents” to sift through the garbage at the private residences of senior executives of Motor Company B and watch their every movement 24/7?
Would Motor Company B send out agents to bars which are known to be the favorite watering holes for employees of Motor Company A, have them eavesdrop on their conversations and maybe buy them drinks to loosen their tongues?
Would Motor Company A equip an airplane with state-of-the-art, high-end cameras and fly over the production facilities of Motor Company B, taking high-resolution pictures?
I’m only thinking about measures which are (I assume) not breaking any law, which means: no trespassing, no breaking into private homes, no planting of listening devices etc. Basically, only things that any private investigator (or really any private citizen) could do without getting into trouble with the law.