The internet has made everything that much more accessable than it was just a few years go.
Back in the pre web days if you wanted to find out about a competitor you had to do a lot of leg work yourself and maybe pay for the information, for example companies house used to charge £1 or more for each piece of data in their database.
The internet has brought all that data to your finger tips, you can access information more or less instantly and best of all a lot of that data is for free.
As an example I use a service called Reporting Accounts, which lets me get access to tons of useful pieces of information about my competitors. So their accounts, their directors, how long they have been trading and much much more.
The data they have available is growing all of the time, but it is very easy to find what you need at just a few clicks of your mouse.