While I was watching the three seasons of Veronica Mars and Veronica Mars (movie) I was surprised by some of the ways she used to investigate people and therefore to close cases.
In particular, a recurring topic in her work is to perform a "background check" on people. In several occasions she is depicted surfing on a private website where she logs in as
vmars (IIRC) and then she types the name of a person, immediately getting a lot of information such as home address, car plates, past convictions (is this the correct term?) and more.
Here's an example of one of these pages from S1E3:
She also uses bugs to snoop conversations and she makes it seem like she can do that. Generally speaking, the show seems to depict a character that has a kind of legitimate or at least effortless access to a lot of information related to strangers. To me, this looks quite fictitious or at least inconceivable where I live (in the EU).
I'm not talking about when she asks Mac to do some hacking (which is amusing to see and at the same time I can understand whether it's real or not since I am a computer scientist). I am talking about tools she can just use or inquire to get information in an easy way.
Thus, speaking about her means, my questions are:
- Is it plausible that a PI in the United States can background check people by using very convenient search engine-like tools? Do these tools exist and are they expensive?
- Is this possible for a person who is not an officially licensed PI such as Veronica? If it is possible, is it even legal?
- Do the answers to the above change if we consider that the series was taking place between 2004-2007 and not nowadays?
- Does it make a difference whether or not she is employed by Keith Mars?
- Can she freely use bugs to intercept people while they are talking? What about a PI?