FTC: Consumer Privacy Comments Concerning Biscomb, P.I.--P974806
Secretary, Federal Trade Commission
re: Support of Self-Regulation by the Information Industry
Dear Mr. Secretary:
This letter is in response to your commission's request for added comments to the hearing held on 10 June 1997.
I am a retired federal criminal investigator (GS-1811 series), as well as a retired colonel of the U.S. Army Military Police Corps. I am currently a licensed and bonded private investigator in the State of Washington. As such, I have had the opportunity to meet other private investigators within this state as well as in the surrounding states. Many of my former federal co-workers are also retired and are similarly self-employed as private investigators.
One of the basic tools of the investigator is access to public records. Many investigators subscribe to one of a number of firms in the information industry to facilitate access to such records. Our clients largely come from two broad areas: attorneys hired by private individuals and/or the courts; and the private individuals, themselves. The subject matters of our investigations for these clients range from crimes against property such as business theft to fraud to offenses against persons such as sexual harassment and stalking. Otherinvestigations may include non-crimes such as missing persons. In all these investigations, access to public information is essential. More often as not, the services of a private investigator are requested when the local and federal law enforcement agencies are not interested in investigating due to the nature of the complaint or their heavy work load.
From my personal observations of the information industry and the private investigation industry in this state, particularly, I am confident that privacy protection of public information can be managed through self-regulation of uses and distribution. Naturally, the industry would need the government's help in enforcing the rules, policies and procedures your committee dictates.
I support the proposition of self-regulation by the information industry.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
William M. Biscomb
William M. Biscomb
cc: President, Pacific NW Assn. of Investigators