Google isn’t a search engine — it’s an advertising engine. Google makes its money from advertising. You may have noticed that the advertisments that appear on your Google search results page is related to what you are searching.
Some of this advertising results from cookies placed on your computer. If you use Gmail, it is even more intrusive as each email is read, and you get ads associated with the content of your email. This is a good business strategy for Google but intrudes upon the user’s privacy. You should shut-off the collection of web history in your Google account. To do this sign into your Google account and then go to http://google.com/history. Once there, click on Remove all Web History and then click on Pause to stop further collection of your web history. There is also a way to rid yourself of the intrusive monitoring of you normal web searching.
Google uses DoubleClick to monitor your web browsing. To eliminate this monitoring go to http://google.com/ads/preferences/plugin and download this small file for each browser that you use. The instalation prceedure will vary with each browser. This file won’t disappear when you use a file wiping program to clearout all the trash web browsing accumulates.
Most people give up a frightening amount of information in a very short period of time during their social interactions, both on social media and in person. Marital status, children, hometowns, schools, and more are the nuggets of information given out which can end-up in the wrong hands.
Safe topics for making conversation with strangers is not your job, but rather a “safe” hobby, like woodworking, sports, or local history. It’s good to avoid politics and religion.
Most privacy conscious Investigators create a throwaway profile. They learn about something that is not related to their identifying features – cooking, gardening, fishing, etc. – and know enough to pass as a amateur enthusiast. This becomes the first-contact profile used to evaluate a stranger.
The Citizen’s Arrest and Self-defence Act comes into full force on March 11, 2013. The act may be found at http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/AnnualStatutes/2012_9/FullText.html and some background on the act may be found at http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/news-nouv/nr-cp/2012/doc_32762.html.
The Canada Gazette entry regarding the act coming into effect may be found at http://gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2013/2013-02-13/html/si-tr5-eng.html.
I have written about the site: command in Google before.
The site: command in Google is an invaluable tool for doing Investigative Internet Research (IIR), especially in combination with other advanced operators.
Google site: Tool
Google site: Tool only works Firefox 14 or later on Windows 7.
It allows you to add site: or -site: to modify your Google search results. To limit your query to a particular site in the results, or to re-run the query excluding that site from the results, click the green URL below the result header. This works best on Google.com rather than the country-specific versions of Google. It also works on the encrypted version of Google.com.
This addon requires Greasemonkey.
While doing Investigative Internet Research (IIR), you find a document from an organisation that changes its name before you finish your report. The document was retrieved before the name change. How do you cite reference? Do you cite it with the old organisation name or the new name?
Normal practice is to use the name as it was when you found the document. However, this can cause problems when someone does fact-checking to independently verify the citation. Someone must then find and document the history of the organisation name.
The solution is to cite the date the document was retrieved and in square brackets include the new name. For example, [currently, XTS Organisation] or better still [as of 11 Jan 13 the name changed to, XTS Organisation]. The latter addition to the citation creates a dated history of the organisation’s name.
Boounce is a simple browser add-on available for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome that helps you bounce between search engines, topical databases, and searchable websites. It mercifully eliminates duplicate results from Google, Bing, and Blekko.
This works quite well if you need to search through a lot of sites quickly. However, you should only use uncomplicated search terms containing words that are not likely to be filtered-out of the results by the default porn filters of the sites you are searching.
If you copy a lot of material while searching, then in the addon’s options deselect “Use text selection as search term”. This is particularly annoying if you cut and paste to MS OneNote as you conduct your research.
One feature I really like is the ability to right-click on webpage search box to add it to the list of boounceable sites.
The list of search sites included with Boounce may be found at http://www.boounce.com/search-engine-list/
The Daily Mail newspaper in the UK reports that the receptionist who was subjected to a pretext call by two Australian DJs may have committed suicide.
In the call at 5.30am on Tuesday impersonating the Queen, Miss Greig said: ‘Oh, hello there. Could I please speak to Kate please, my granddaughter?’
Thinking she was speaking to the Queen, the receptionist replied: ‘Oh yes, just hold on ma’am’.
She then put the presenters through to one of the nurses who was caring for the Duchess.
The nurse also believed she was speaking to the Queen and went on to make a number of deeply personal observations about Kate’s health.
This prank/pretext was bragged about by the two Australian DJs. This no doubt subjected the receptionist to a lot of ridicule.
The Australian DJs violated two of the three rules for doing pretext calls.
The three rules:
- Do not personate a living person.
- Do not personate a representative of any existing company (or business) or anything to do with government.
- Do not cause anybody to be concerned for their own safety or the wellbeing of any person, business, company, or property.
Most Private Investigators learn that carrying a clipboard will grant access to most places, even those with confidential data to protect. Well there is a more powerful access tool than a clipboard and his name is Dickie.
Dickie doesn’t work alone, he has friends — 2-way radio, tool belt, Maglight, hard hat, and well-worn safety boots.
Nobody ever challenges Dickie. If a particularly diligent person does question Dickie, he says, “fine with me, but it will be at least four weeks until I can get back here. We’re really backed up.” Thusly, Dickie intimidates the most diligent, pretentious, and over-dressed staff member.
Dickie has an entire wardrobe to cover all occasions. Telephone technician days he is blue as Bell detested Gray. On computer service days, he is in tan slacks with a white polo shirt. When he is fixing the troublesome copier, he is either blue or grey. On clean-up days, he helps the janitor in grey. On hot or cold days, he fixes the HVAC system in this blue-green ensemble. Sometimes he delivers parcels in his fetching brown outfit.
Dickie is a master of surveillance and disguise.
The Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) was created in 1966 as an information system for Canadian law enforcement agencies. It is the sole nationwide repository of criminal convictions in Canada. Many employers require a search of CPIC before hiring. However, this system is not foolproof.
Auditor-General reports going back to 2000 have criticized the CPIC system (see para. 7.86) regarding timely delivery of criminal record data.
The most recent Auditor-General report estimates that the RCMP takes an average of 14 months to update an existing English criminal record in CPIC. The French updates take an average of 36 months. The stated goal is updating a record in 24 hours. Unfortunately, reality is an average time of 334 working days (see para. 5.59 & 5.60). For a new criminal record, the average time to process was 27 working days ( see para. 5.60).
If the employer hires someone with a minor criminal record, they may getting someone with a much more serious, but undisclosed, conviction. If the employer hires someone with no criminal record, the employer may be getting someone with an undisclosed conviction for a serious offence.
Skilled note taking is a critical skill for the Investigator. A client reminded me of this when he described a meeting with a Crown Prosecutor. The case in question resulted from an investigation that was conducted two years ago. The Crown went over his report and notes with a fine tooth comb in preparation for the trial.
Note taking has a long history. I see it in the margins of books, in notebooks, and this blog is a form of note taking for me. I’m in the process of writing a book and that entails a different form of note taking.
I found an New York Times article about 250 academics and civilians gathered at Harvard for a more self-conscious exercise: a chance to take notes on note-taking.
The article mentions the “Anxiety over the potential mindlessness of note-taking took on particular urgency during the digital annotation session, at which panelists debated whether the Internet and social media had ushered in a golden age of notes or doomed us to watch all our fleeting thoughts — if not our brains themselves — sucked down a giant digital drain, beyond the reach of future historians.” This is of particular interest to the Investigator.
The Investigator still needs to create clear paper-based notes to avoid having his work “sucked down a giant digital drain, beyond the reach of clients, prosecutors, and defense council.
I came across a book written during the Great War that has some good tips for the surveillance operator. It introduces the essentials of spycraft of a bygone era, but it remains particularly relevant to the Investigator who conducts surveillance operations.
The attitude that espionage is a sport in which the players appreciate and honor each other is truly misplaced, but the author’s observations about how to look like you belong in a place and about the key elements of disguise are timeless. The author’s description of how he gained access to critical installations to make observations are as relevant today as the Balkans in the 1890′s.
My Adventures as a Spy, By Lt. Gen. Sir Robert Baden-Powell, is an excellent short read.
Federal Political parties in Canada are only required to report the identities of contributors donating over $200 to one riding association or the central organization. For donations of $200 or less, receipts must be kept by the individual riding associations, but Elections Canada doesn’t record of them. Completely anonymous contributions of $20 or less are permitted.
Elections Canada confirmed in 2007 that individuals could contribute as much as $60,500 over the $1,100 limit – simply by donating $200 to each of a party’s 308 riding associations and Elections Canada would never know about it. Contributions of $200 or less are reported in aggregate, without a break-down by contributor to allow cross-checking across the riding associations.
However, we can search the Contributions & Expenses Database and other databases maintained by Elections Canada.
Keeping track of sites that don’t offer RSS feeds or email updates can be a problem for Researchers and Investigators.
As of September 30th, Google Reader will be turning off track changes. Track Changes allowed you to create a custom feed to track changes on pages that don’t have their own feed. Page2RSS seems to be one of the few alternatives available to replace this.
Page2Rss will convert any web page to RSS feed. You can even add a button to your browser’s bookmarks toolbar that will create Page2RSS feed for the page you are currently viewing.
Another alternative to Google Reader’s Track Changes is in the bottom left corner of the FeedBlitz home page. Insert a URL and get email updates from a website or blog that doesn’t offer email subscriptions.
Copernic Tracker – automatically looks for new content on Web pages, forums, and Social sites. When a change is detected, our Web site tracking software can notify you by sending an email, including a copy of the Web page with the changes highlighted, or by displaying a desktop alert.
WatchThatPage is a service that enables you to automatically collect new information from your favorite pages on the Internet. You select which pages to monitor, and WatchThatPage will find which pages have changed, and collect all the new content for you. The new information is presented to you in an email and/or a personal web page. You can specify when the changes will be collected, so they are fresh when you want to read them. The service is free!
Google Custom Search Engine is a powerful tool that lets you set a list of specific web sites that Google will check when you search. Google Custom Search Engines can be made to search specific sites for government documents, recipes, or how to survive the zombie apocalypse. A search engine may be set-up to search one website or multiple websites. Of course you need a Google Account to create the custom search. Go to the above link and create one for yourself if you wish.
However, there are quite a few that are available because somebody else has done the work for you. Each custom search engine has an ID to refer Google to the correct custom search engine. For example, the Canadian Government Documents search engine that I use has ID: 007843865286850066037:3ajwn2jlweq. To get to it, put http://www.google.com/cse/home?cx= before the ID as follows:
The U.S.A. Government information search engine that I often use is at
The Intergovernmental Organizations (UN & the like) site is at
You might want to use SaskSearch – the Saskatchewan, Canada Search Engine which is a regional search engine for the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, or go to the Caribbean Newspaper Search.
These custom search engines can save the researcher or investigator a lot of work if they are employed properly.
I came across an article on lifehacker entitled, Use an Old Gift Card to Keep a Bit of Duct Tape With You at All Times. I’m sure the article’s author is a Canadian at heart.
In recent months, I have travelled all over Eastern Canada, and here’s what has migrated to the bottom of my briefcase.
It’s surprising how often these things get used. The compass on the match case is really useful when I get twisted around on a back road and don’t know what direction to go. The white duct tape on the Maglite makes it easy to find in the bottom of a black briefcase as well as holding things together.