“Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage Against Nonprofit Organizations” is the title of a report by Gary Ruskin of Essential Information on a topic that he says we know little about because the “entire subject is veiled in secrecy.” The report is available as a 53-page PDF; below is the introduction:
In the United States, corporations have hired private investigators since the colorful and enterprising Allan Pinkerton set up a detective agency in 1850. It was a benign start. Pinkerton enforced a strict code of ethics on his “private eyes,” and he focused much of their work on solving crimes and catching criminals. But when Pinkerton died in 1884, his business was taken over by his sons, who had ideas of their own. They undertook controversial work, such as anti-union and strike-breaking operations. Thus began the long rise of the corporate spy-for-hire, and the effort to counteract those who dared to impair the profits of corporate America.