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Covert Surveillance and Privacy

Covert Surveillance and Privacy

Covert Surveillance and Privacy

We are often asked to comment on whether the use of surveillance is permitted under applicable privacy legislation and to address concerns that surveillance by a private investigator infringes on a subject’s privacy. 

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has recognized that an organization may be justified in undertaking surveillance on an individual under appropriate circumstances.  If there is a demonstrated and legitimate purpose and objective, then it is recognized that surveillance could be an effective tool.  Courts too have recognized surveillance as a legitimate tool in defense of personal injury claims and have also held in other cases that an employee had no reasonable expectation of privacy, given that the surveillance occurred in a public place and was a public activity engaged in by the employee.

Private investigators are not required to obtain the consent of the subject to perform surveillance. In fact, to do so would compromise the accuracy of the information and privacy laws recognize such limited and specific situations where consent is not required.   

It is a good idea for organizations to implement a policy on using surveillance and when hiring a private investigator, document clearly the purpose of the surveillance. 

By Sean Gladney, Vice-President, The Investigators Group Inc.

You can contact Sean via email at

 The Investigators Group Inc. is a full-service private investigation and security firm serving customers across North America since 1995.



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