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'Black market' in personal info targeted

July 6, 2012 at 1:08 PM

LONDON, July 6 (UPI) -- British lawmakers called on the government to take action against a "black market" in personal data tracked by private investigators for clients.

The Home Affairs Select Committee pointed to the widespread availability of low-cost tracking and digital-monitoring devices, The Guardian reported Friday.

"Recent high-profile events, such as the phone-hacking scandal, have thrown light on the sometimes shady world of private investigators," said Keith Vaz, the committee chairman.

"We have found that rogue private investigators are the brokers in a black market in information. They illegally snoop on our data, cash in on our private lives and only get away with a paltry fine."

The Guardian said the committee made no mention of "pinging" of mobile phones but it is one method used by some private investigators to track people.

The committee said the current fine of about $81 for offenses linked to unlawfully obtaining, disclosing and selling personal data was not enough of a deterrent and recommended private investigators and private investigation firms be licensed and operate under a code of conduct.

Violators should be disqualified from working as private investigators, the committee said.

"It is time this industry was regulated so that the honest majority can get on with their work," Vaz said. "We expect the government to act urgently."

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