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Anyone familiar with the private investigation industry knows the story of Eugène François Vidocq, a former criminal who founded the first known private detective agency in 1833 in France and who would later found La Sûreté Nationale, a precursor to all police detective agencies throughout the world. Most of us are less familiar with the story of how private investigators came to be regulated by the governments where we work. Nobody, to my knowledge, has yet to tell the story of what this hidden history says about how the regulation of private information gathering has been motivated in part by the perceived threat private investigators pose to repressive governments.

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Philip Becnel

I'm an author and the Managing Partner of Dinolt Becnel & Wells Investigative Group, a private investigations firm based in Washington, D.C. My books include "Introduction to Conducting Private Investigations" and "Principles of Investigative Documentation." I get excited about technologies and theories that change how people do investigations, and I believe that nothing is sexier than a superbly written investigative report. My firm investigates anything worth investigating, but my personal specialties include employment investigations regarding harassment, discrimination, fraud, and other disputed workplace behavior; and criminal defense. When I'm not investigating or writing about investigating, I'm painting oil portraits or watching baseball with my two kids.

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