Private Investigations in the Age Of Technology

Sean Gladney

In our technology rich age of security cameras, internet, social media, Google, spyware, GPS and more, one may wonder why private investigators are needed for physical observation and monitoring. The world of private investigation in fact now utilizes advanced technology. 

There are many reasons for use of private investigation services. For example, insurance companies may wish to carry out covert observation on individuals, usually in claims related to injury. It is the job of the private investigator to provide an accurate report so that the information can then be relied on and upheld in a court of law. Private investigators can also be used to investigate accident scenes, take statements, perform audits, locate individuals and do financial or background checks.

The demand and uses for technology continue to grow and each investigation will start with some form of technology due diligence, whether online or database searches. 

It’s important for a private investigator to keep up with the fast growing trends of technology in order to be as efficient as possible in an investigation. 

A new and growing trend in covert observation is the use of drones. Drones are a highly effective tool for investigators to use due to the quality of camera, high power zoom lenses and ability to capture angles that would not normally be accessible by handheld devices. Some drones have the ability to capture images and videos using night vision cameras and thermal sensors. 

Aerial observation increases a private investigator's range and allows the investigator the ability to cover larger, previously inaccessible areas, and obtain information from a bird’s-eye view whilst remaining in one location. This in turn, can reduce the travel time required, by foot or vehicle.

Despite the benefits of aerial observation, the privacy issues associated with drone use is a topic of concern for many.  Consider for example, that a drone conducting ariel observation of the movement of individuals or vehicles in the street is capable of tracking an object in a large area, gathering information including movement, speed, and obtain other physical information that traditional tools could not.  The debate will focus on privacy and the ‘reasonableness’ of drone observation.  The assessment if privacy will depend on who is using them and for what purposes, the context and location of their use, the type of drone technology and the extent and type of personal information that may be captured by the drone.. An experienced drone operator must have in mind the rules associated with the collection and the use and disclosure of personal information as set out in the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).  As well, an understanding of statutory and common law privacy torts, being a civil remedy for breaches of privacy by individuals and organizations is important to limit the risk of breaching privacy laws and privacy rights and to ensure that the appropriate steps are taken to ensure lawful collection of information using aerial observation. The private investigators who are technologically savvy and have an understanding and awareness of these important privacy issues will remain competitive in today’s investigation industry.

By Sean Gladney, Vice-President, The Investigators Group Inc. 
For more information regarding private investigations, you can contact Sean via email at

The Investigators Group Inc. (IGI) was established in 1995 as a full service private investigation and security firm serving individuals across North America. We serve the legal, insurance and corporate communities as well as individuals through our civil and executive services. IGI provides professional investigation services, fraud investigators, workplace investigations, undercover operations, loss prevention and security services. 

Contact us today so we can provide the appropriate investigative solution for all your needs.

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