More Private, Less Of A Dick

Pamela Stewart, a former private investigator, describes how moral qualms led her out of the profession:

I talked to a few friends in the industry this week and asked if they were considering using drones. They are excited about the possibility. Legislation doesn’t keep pace with technology, so there are grey areas in that blue sky. A private investigator cannot observe you in any place you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try. Years ago, a colleague followed a subject to a nudist colony and got video of the subject and others playing volleyball. Everyone in the office watched that video. …

Most of the people who do this work don’t care about you or your privacy. Most of the people being surveilled don’t know how to protect their personal information. And most of investigating bodies don’t care. You are just data. And even if you are doing nothing wrong, you’re just collateral damage in the search for the “truth.”

I want to say I am done. I helped many people get the information they needed to make decisions about their lives or their businesses, but in doing so I devalued myself. While focusing my camera on others, I blurred my own definition of right and wrong. I was a licensed liar and a snoop. It’s a judgmental, and soul-destroying world. From now on, I’ll stick to reading Raymond Chandler and sign off with the words I used in every investigation report: “Surveillance discontinued.”