Sep 5, 2014

The Case for Ethical Surveillance

The traditional meaning of surveillance is ‘close observation especially of a suspected spy or criminal’, and until quite recently this was done by one person on another. Digital changed all that, of course. As Al Gore once famously remarked, ‘In the digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?’

The recent surge of public opinion against auto-observation of citizen’s mobile calls and messages by governments has been interesting, with a senior politician commenting that ‘we have almost everything we need for a police state in place’. The reaction is different when the system traps notorious criminals. The consensus seems to be that surveillance is acceptable only when there is good cause for it, and (hopefully) yields results.

The Private Investigator’s Responsibility

There is no single privacy law in Australia. Instead, we have a network of commonwealth and state laws that keeps our legislators busy as they try to untangle them. Qld Covert Investigations has a policy of not taking on a brief without clear evidence of something requiring investigation, or at least a strong suspicion that there might be.

Before we start surveillance we discuss the reasoning for it with our client. Our policy is straightforward. We must agree that it is justified because of what is at stake. This could be anything from commercial espionage to a child under threat. We document our reasoning as part of our program of enhancing quality in what we do.

Surveillance in Practice

While the practice of placing cameras in public places has gone some way towards cutting down on opportunistic crime, this is hardly practical when it comes to well-thought-out manoeuvres. A kidnapper is no more likely to lead a child down a busy street than a cheating spouse to do the deed under the public eye.

This means we have to go under cover and shadow the person suspected of doing something. We record what we see with date stamped cameras and video equipment. We share our surveillance findings with our clients and nobody else, because we too believe in the privacy of individuals.

When You Need a Surveillance Done

Call Qld Covert Investigations on 1300 553 788 for assistance. We answer at any time of day and night, and provide a courteous and helpful response. If for reasons of privacy you are unable to call then please leave us a message, remembering to include contact information, and when you would like us to call you back.

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