Celebrity Detective’s Crimes Bring to Light Ethical Violations

Los Angeles based private investigator Anthony Pellicano’s recent 110-count federal indictment for wiretapping and other charges brings to light certain arguments that Americans are having regarding the right to eavesdrop on third-party conversations. Of course, we all know about President Bush’s fights with Congress over the right for the Bush administration to continue wiretapping without congressional approval. Bush’s argument is that in the time of war, we need to use all available resources to catch the bad guy. Okay…Well, the government will do what it feels necessary to do, but what about private citizens developing illegal software to listen in on third-party conversations?

Pellicano, with the aid of a colleague, created illegal eavesdropping software in an effort to intercept calls and listen in on private conversations. He used he device, Telesleuth, to record phone calls on behalf of certain attorneys to celebrity clients. All attorneys affiliated with Pellicano are now denying all knowledge of Pellicano’s illegal activities.

It’s hard enough to imagine that the government has to listen in on my conversations, but private citizens? That seems to be a gross violation of my privacy rights. Pellicano’s case will determine the consequences our citizens will face if they violate the wiretap laws now in place. One would hope that law and investigation firms, who are largely in positions of public trust, would refrain from wiretap activity, even if it would help win their case, seeing as it is illegal and unethical.

This also raises a much less philosophical point, which is the importance of working with only the highest quality private investigators and private investigative firms. That is, an investigator who, in additional to knowledge of and familiarity with the laws that govern private investigators’ work, have and uphold high ethical standards. In addition to making sure that the investigator holds a license and proper insurances, contact licensing authorities and inquire if the investigator’s license is in good standing. Inquire of the investigative firm about their credentials. Ask for the references of past client.