Limits of private detectives

A security and investigation expert must guarantee and respect the rights of both his clients and the persons under investigation, which is why the right to privacy must not be violated at any time during surveillance.


In general terms we could say that privacy or intimacy is the area of a person’s personal life that takes place in private spaces, and that he or she has the right to control, defend and protect in case of intrusion.

On the other hand, the right to privacy could be defined as the defence of individuals through the prohibition of public disclosure of private information related to work, religion, personal life, politics, etc.

Within the fundamental right of the person we can find the right to be able to enjoy a personal and private sphere to build a family and personal life completely free, except from the knowledge or interventions of third parties.


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  • Appropriation of image or name. Private investigators should avoid impersonating someone else, because if a person or organisation uses your image or your name for profit without your consent, they can make a legal claim.
  • Public disclosure of private information. A very common example is the theft of private information via WhatsApp. In order for a person who has suffered from this to initiate legal proceedings, it is important that the information disclosed is completely truthful, not in the public interest, and is considered offensive. Emphasise that what we have just read is not about defamation.
  • Image distortion: When we talk about image distortion it is very similar to defamation.


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Private detectives are regulated by a series of laws that protect the legitimate rights of their clients and of the persons under investigation, although they may collect evidence, follow people, search for information related to the persons involved in a file and other tasks.

These private professionals must act in accordance with the provisions of Law 5/2015 on Private Security. In this law, it states that the private investigator himself is primarily responsible for preventing the rights of the persons under investigation from being violated.

It should be emphasised that the services and actions that a private detective can carry out may never infringe the rights referred to in the Spanish Constitution, specifically in article 18. This article deals with the public freedoms of individuals and their fundamental rights.

Some aspects of it could be; the guarantee of the right to honour and personal and family privacy and even the right to one’s own image, and/or the protection of the home, in short, it could be said that no private investigation can be carried out and no entry can be made into a private home without the consent of the owner of the home, unless there is a warrant signed by a judge.


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The right to personal privacy is one of the most important rights under the Private Security Law. This right should be taken into account both in the gathering of evidence and at every stage of the private investigation process.

According to the legislation, private detectives must comply with certain rules or limitations, which are shown below:

  • In order to prove the legitimacy of the private service, the interest of the private service in a case must be reflected in the private contracting and investigation file itself.
  • Enquiries and the gathering of information and evidence relating to prosecutable offences may only be carried out at the request of the legitimate client in the context of criminal proceedings.
  • With the exception of all activities that take place in private homes or private areas, all activities related to financial, economic, work, personal, family or social and business life are accepted if such activities take place in public places.


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With the exception of data that may be linked to a possible crime or to the persons involved, any information that does not relate to the purpose of the file will be discarded, so when private detectives carry out the appropriate enquiries and evidence gathering they should always focus on the purpose of the private investigation.

It should be noted that private professionals who violate the right to privacy of the person under investigation are brought before a judge and penalised by law. If you are considering hiring any of the services offered by a private detective, make sure that he or she respects the privacy rights of the persons involved in a case.