07/15/2006: "UK Private Investigator Blog - "Privacy of data and the Law""
The information commissioner (the guy in charge of making sure the information on UK citizens is used correctly) is taking a very tough stance on those people who try to trick or con government workers or businesses into providing information on citizens that should be kept private. He recommends a 2 yr sentence for people convicted of obtaining information unlawfully, as this reflects the seriousness of the crime. Though he also states "it would be for the court to decide on the appropriate punishment in particular circumstances of each case". There are avenues open for the lawful and correct acquisition of information if you need it for a lawful purpose, and these should be used.
The UK private investigator associations tend to agree with him, although there are views that prisons should be filled with criminals who commit violent crimes against innocent people, and not with private investigators who have accidentally strayed over the line while attempting to track down debtors and offenders.
Personally, I agree with the information commissioner's view that personal data stored by businesses and governments should only be disclosed when there is a lawful need to do so. I also agree that there are certainly worst crimes out there and the 2 year sentence seems to be a bit harsh.
It just goes to show, that if you're trying to locate someone yourself and you're not a qualified investigator you could find yourself committing crimes that you were unaware were crimes. And ignorance is no excuse. I recommend you hire a professional investigator to locate them for you, it'll be cheaper than 2 years in prison!