One of the more common misconceptions about private investigators is the access to information. Many believe that Montreal private investigators have access to privileged information.
In part 2 of this multi-part series, “Access to Information” we’ll be exploring the most commonly asked questions we get as Montreal private Investigators and investigators across Canada related to collecting information.
If you have any questions you would like to ask, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to answer them in future posts.
Access to Information
Do Montreal private investigators have access to CPIC?
The Canadian Police Information Centre or CPIC is a Canadian national information-sharing system providing information about crimes and criminals. CPIC is managed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Only the law enforcement community has restricted access to the system.
As mentioned in our previous article Ask the Montreal Private Investigator (Part 1), although all private investigators in Canada are licensed by their respective provinces they do not enforce any laws nor are they considered law enforcement officers.
The general public can consult CPIC to search for reported stolen property like vehicles, boats, bicycles, and firearms. Consult the database here: CPIC Stolen Property Search
What type of information do Montreal private investigators have access to?
Like in many European countries, Canada has strong privacy laws. In the late 1990’s The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) passed governing how private-sector companies can collect, use and disclose personal information. This includes;
- What personal information can be collected from individuals (including customers, clients and employees);
- When consent is required to collect personal information and how consent is obtained;
- What notice must be provided before personal information is collected, and
- How personal information may be used or disclosed;
- The purposes for which personal information may be collected, used or disclosed by the organization;
- How an individual may get access to and request correction of his or her personal information held by the organization.
The following 3 items, are most often asked for by clients unaware of PIPEDA, cannot be obtained by Canadian private investigators without subject’s approval;
- Credit reports
- Telephone records
- Banking records
How about U.S. private investigators?
Private investigators based in the United States have access to motor vehicle records, data-brokers or investigative databases that contain an abundance of information on individuals. The most popular being IRBsearch, Tracersinfo, TLO, LocatePLUS and Accurint .
These types of services are not legal to operate in Canada.
So how do Montreal private investigators gather information?
Due to the lack of specialty databases Canadian private investigators have to be more resourceful and proactive in collecting information and building strong cases.
Ironically, a former director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A) (1953-1961) Allen W. Dulles, once said “More than 80 percent of intelligence is obtained from open sources.”
Open-source intelligence is the most common method of collecting information. It’s obtained from publicly available sources, such as;
- Social Networking websites, forums, blogs…
- Media Sources (newspapers, magazines, journals, television…)
- Professional associations, academic papers, government reports
- Deep web or invisible web which are websites not indexed by search engines. The deep web is the majority of the internet and its actual size is unknown.
- Investigative portals like the Canadian Private Investigators Resource Center, which compiles thousands of open-source investigative information in one location.
The list of open-source information is endless.
The classic method of gathering information on a subject is through means of observation and reporting. This could be through;
- Covert vehicle and foot surveillance (Static or mobile)
- Overt vehicle and foot surveillance (Static or mobile)
- Undercover operatives
- Electronic surveillance
It’s imperative that the above methods of observation be conducted by highly trained licensed agents and within the parameters of the law.
Before the arrival of technology, human intelligence or HUMINT was the primary source of intelligence.
HUMINT is information derived by human sources usually through interviewing people who know or who have come in contact with the subject or event.
Part 3 coming soon.
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