Competitive Intelligence

Tactical, Operational & Strategic Analysis of Markets, Competitors & Industries

Preparing the e-course Operation of Surveillance and CSURV Devices ( ) for my prospective students, I've asked myself the following questions.

Are surveillance and competitive intelligence two separate areas of commercial investigations (as suggested, for example, at ) or are they not [for example, "The aspects of observation and surveillance, just like in any intelligence undertaking, should also be present in competitive intelligence." ( )? If the latter was true, what role would surveillance play in the work of Competitive Intelligence professionals? Do companies resist CI surveillance in the same manner as citizens resist state surveillance?

Would you please assist me in answering the above questions? In your opinion, should I multiply these questions? What else should be added?

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Hello to all,

Well I must say I believe I jumped in a little late in this conversation, but I am glad I did. I personal work for a private investigation agency in Virginia, where I am certified as a private investigator for the Department of Justice. I can tell you from my experience, training, and knowledge that it is illegal to conduct surveillance one anyone with out it being part of a contract for vairous reasons- such as divorce, criminal, or civil. To use the word surveillance- these days can mean many different things to many different people. I personal have conducted many types of operation CI or BI covertly with out breaking the law. In VA- there is a stalking law. However one can avoid this by contracting out if it comes to that- but I will say one who takes part in the surveillance better be good at it or just not do it at all because it spells JAIL TIME if caught doing it illegaly. At the same time do not foreget about our investigative reporters who go undercover or follow possible leads.. I agree with everyones points here and from my line of work all I can say is leave the following executives to their houses and such out of the surveillance. There is nothing wrong with posing as someone else and walking into a company office to gather information. Just leave the 007 stuff out of it and all should be fine

Matt Jones
To "leave the 007 stuff out of it"? Never! ;-)

Tad Sir,

Surveillance is technically a part of Counter Intelligence for the State as well as in Competitive Intelligence.

Surveillance is legal in Competitive Intelligence from the angle of Counter Intelligence.
I have rarely disagreed with you, Vivek: hence enjoy that comment of mine ( ). :-)
In reply to Matthew Jones:
I believe your posting was not precise on a couple points. In the United States the "stalking law" does pose some obstacles to surveillance, but it is NOT illegal to conduct surveillance on another person, and a "contract" does not make it legal. Generally surveillance conflicts with "stalking" laws if it is done by: "repeatedly follow[ing]... places under surveillance...another a manner that would cause a reasonable person to suffer serious emotional distress." The crime may be a felony is the subject/rabbit has a protection order against your client. So an agent/investigators rule should include: 1) no contact of any kind with the subject/rabbit 2) don't do anything that might cause "emotional distress" and 3) make sure your subject doesn't have a restraining/protection order against your client.

The other law an investigator needs to be aware of is the local/state "Harassment" statute. In some states it is illegal to "follow someone in a public place" BUT ONLY if they do this with the intent to harass, annoy or alarm that person. The intent of investigative agents is to gather information, not specifically to harass.

But I would still submit that following another individual in public is a legitimate practice of gathering information. However, Matt's posting brings to light some basic training issues for all new investigators before they begin work.

Pete DiGriz


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