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PC Repair In Texas Now Requires a PI License 729

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the lumberjack-requires-scuba-license-too dept.
JohnnyNapalm writes "In some shocking news out of Texas, PC repair will now require a PI License. Surely this stands to have a substantial impact on small repair shops around the state if upheld. Never fear, however, as the first counter-suit has already been filed."
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PC Repair In Texas Now Requires a PI License

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  • by snowgirl (978879) * on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:00PM (#24024001) Journal

    Unfortunately, the Slaughterhouse Cases [wikipedia.org] already determined that a state-run cartel can push out individuals not meeting specific criteria.

    Such a right to "sustain ones life through labor" simply does not exist at the Federal level... Now, they are pushing this under the Texas constitution, and I don't know for sure what the Texas constitution says about it, however likely, just like Louisiana, they probably don't guarentee a person's right to work in a particular field.

    We require licenses of many different professions, doctors, medical professionals, accountants even. Sorry, but unfortunately, saying "I have plenty of happy customers that are willing to have me repair their computers" doesn't justify this anymore than a doctor practicing medicine without a license can say "but they're totally accepting of my care, even though I'm unlicensed."

    I hate to say this, but these people probably don't have a single leg to stand on legally, because this has all been through the courts before... of course, I could be wrong, and things could change. But I don't expect it to.

    If Texas ruled you had the right to do any work between two knowing and consenting adults, then that would lead to situations potentially opening the way to prostitution (which I don't think should be illegal) or circumvention of licensing standards for other professions. Why do I need government permission to be a cop? I can pull over anyone I want, and by telling me that I can't, the government is making me unable to sustain my life through the labor of my choosing.

    I think the biggest issue here, is that police and other criminology people are concerned that if a computer tech stumbles across illegal information on a computer, that since they are not a licensed private investigator, the evidence cannot in any way be used. Even if say, it's for a child-pornography case. "Your evidence was siezed improperly, sorry, but it's excluded, next time do things the right way!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheSHAD0W (258774)

      We require licenses of many different professions, doctors, medical professionals, accountants even. Sorry, but unfortunately, saying "I have plenty of happy customers that are willing to have me repair their computers" doesn't justify this anymore than a doctor practicing medicine without a license can say "but they're totally accepting of my care, even though I'm unlicensed."

      And if the patients know this, what exactly is wrong with it?

      This is one good reason why medical care costs so much in this country.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:11PM (#24024093)

        Because there are a lot of crooks in this country, and was the reason these kind of laws were put into place in the first place. We all expect doctors to have a certain level of training, and just because someone says they have the equivalent, doesn't mean they do.

        • by e4g4 (533831) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:17PM (#24024161)
          No argument there. I certainly expect my doctor to have medical training, my lawyer to have law training - but do I expect my local PC tech guy to have investigative training? Do you really want to hand your computer to someone who is trained at gleaning information? When I fix a computer - I make a studious effort to ignore the personal contents of a machine...this is just ridiculous.
          • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:35PM (#24024863)
            Yes, it's ridiculous when viewed from the perspective of the computer-using public. But if you look at this the way an overarching government would, then the idea of having trained snitches in every computer store is very appealing. I mean, look at post-WWII East Germany ... they eventually had half the population spying on the other half.

            If there was ever a time for a Texan to learn how to fix his or her own computer system ... this is it.
            • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob&hotmail,com> on Wednesday July 02, 2008 @01:02AM (#24026319) Journal
              If there was ever a time for a Texan to learn how to fix his or her own computer system ... this is it.

              Actually, it would have been a good idea to get started in 2002.

              Your government hasn't given up on the idea that any worker with access to your privacy should inform them of your activities.

              Join the Citizen Corps [smh.com.au]. Protect your country from terrorism now!

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:52PM (#24024985)

            So I guess my Dr. should have a PI license so that if I use drugs he can tell the police then. Or my mechanic should have PI so if he finds child porn in my trunk I can be reported. Lets just make a PI license a requirement for entering the country... that'll work!

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Kierthos (225954)

              Actually, Doctor-patient privilege would prevent a doctor from telling the cops that one of his patients used drugs. The only point where he could release that information to others would be if the patient gave express permission or if the information was necessary to save the patient's life. (And even then, the confidentiality clause would extend to other medical personnel informed of the drug abuse.)

          • by nospam007 (722110) on Wednesday July 02, 2008 @12:24AM (#24026121)

            >...but do I expect my local PC tech guy to have investigative training? ...

            It's so that they can carry a gun before telling you: "I reformatted your harddrive, you have a backup, don't you?"

          • by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday July 02, 2008 @12:34AM (#24026179) Homepage Journal
            "No argument there. I certainly expect my doctor to have medical training, my lawyer to have law training - but do I expect my local PC tech guy to have investigative training? Do you really want to hand your computer to someone who is trained at gleaning information? When I fix a computer - I make a studious effort to ignore the personal contents of a machine...this is just ridiculous."

            I think this is crazy too.

            To balance it out...ok, make them all have to be PI's. However, just pass a 2nd law making anything found on a computer without a valid search warrent (before it is cracked open) invalid in a court of law. A person working on a PC is not supposed to be looking for/at files that are not part of the problem to the system working. This way...if something is stumbled across, it is inadmissible in a court of law.

          • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday July 02, 2008 @02:38AM (#24026791) Journal

            No argument there. I certainly expect my doctor to have medical training

            Actually, and I'm being quite serious, I've found that assumption to be dangerous. Personal experience with myself and immediate family.

            - Neurologist prescribing a medication for seizures, then continually increasing the dosage when one of the contraindications for giving it is seizures. Patient went from an occasional seizure to seizing on average every 2 days. When he was shown this information he replied, "oh okay, maybe it's contributing, let's cut it out" without bothering to read that immediately cutting out this med has been known to make normal patients suicidal. Thank fuck for Google. Anyone who says you shouldn't self-diagnose can go fuck themselves.

            - 2 lung specialist doctors insisting that wheezing flemy pregnant woman with bronchitis has just picked up "bad breathing techniques". The shallow breathing couldn't possibly be caused by the pregnancy. The woman couldn't possibly be emotional because she's had to sleep sitting up for weeks lest she cough and splutter. While you're at it have a dig at the patient's weight despite her recent injury (hit by a car, bulging disc and nerve damage) and pregnancy. Yeah really wonder why she might get emotional.

            - Head orthopod at a large suburban hospital insisting a shoulder isn't dislocated despite an obvious bulge because he's failed to take an axial view (required to show posterior dislocations, and the patient had a long history of them).

            - Hearing specialist refusing to believe there is a hearing problem and instead blaming it on being in the patient's head because he couldn't get a consistent reading asking her to listen to tones. Turns out when he did a hearing test that did not require the patient to tell him when tones sounded there was a significant hearing loss. But hey it's easier to suggest your patient sees a psychiatrist.

            - Dentist doing such a poor job on a root canal that another detentist was horrified. The tooth was lost (after a couple of thousand spent on the procedures).

            - Patient's first visit with a doctor. First high blood pressure reading found. Patient is overweight and has an ankle injury. Suggestion isn't blood pressure meds and exploring moderate weight loss options. No within 5 minutes of seeing this patient the doctor wants to do stomach banding.

            That's just in the last 5 years. Guess what country I live in? No it's not 3rd world. It's Australia. Private health cover too in several instances above. If you complain you risk getting no care when you need it. Best bet is to not get sick. Failing that check everything you're told and make sure you're earning big money because you may end up with a few $300+ bills for a 15 minute chat and a misdiagnosis or an insult.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by IronChef (164482)

              Scary stories.

              A good friend of mine had his mom die when he was young in large part due to a medical error. Not surprisingly, he has been mistrustful of doctors ever since, but from his cynicism was born one fantastic bit of wisdom: "Doctors are just tech support for your body."

              I haven't found the tech support yet that I wouldn't check on with my own research.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:38PM (#24024387)

          Because there are a lot of crooks in this country, and was the reason these kind of laws were put into place in the first place. We all expect doctors to have a certain level of training, and just because someone says they have the equivalent, doesn't mean they do.

          Of course, but that doesn't mean we should be arresting everyone on Slashdot for speculating about legal issues without being members of the bar. As long as you're not misrepresenting your credentials, what's the problem? And as far as this case goes, nobody who goes to Best Buy with computer problems is even asking for an investigator -- they just want somebody to install antivirus and make AOL work again. So what misrepresentation is occurring that requires a licensing agency?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by berzerke (319205)

          And how many doctors, licensed doctors, screw up every day? A license does not guarantee competency, and lack of a license does not guarantee lack of competency.

          Since you mentioned doctors, I can tell you a few stories. First, at one point I worked in a medical clinic (as a computer tech). My boss was a med school graduate who was trying to get his license. I walked in on him studying and jokingly asked what he was so worried about since the test was easy. His response, "OK, smart ass, what's the answer to

      • by AllIGotWasThisNick (1309495) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:20PM (#24024201)

        And if the patients know this, what exactly is wrong with it?

        To play liberal's advocate for a moment, the US health care system as it stands today requires licensing to get malpractice insurance. This is a pretty reasonable expectation should say, your leg be accidentally amputated during an annual checkup. This same policy applies to your insurance payables for eg. massage therapy. Registered therapist's services are invariably insured, whereas non-licensed massage services (teehee) are almost never covered.

        The subtle reason for any of this concern is the principle of "informed consent". Without a medical degree, how can you effectively evaluate (in advance, no less) the skills of someone whose actions potentially put your life in definite, immediate risk? The liberal mindset is that you are not allowed to choose, even if you actually are informed, since other uninformed people will frequently make "the wrong choice".

        As for my personal opinion, I think that the vast majority of medical conditions can be dealt with by someone with significantly less training/licensing (eg. nurses, online/telephone professionals, etc) than is currently demanded; heart surgeries are much less common than colds, as dreamy as McDreamy is.

        • by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:30PM (#24024295) Homepage

          As for my personal opinion, I think that the vast majority of medical conditions can be dealt with by someone with significantly less training/licensing (eg. nurses, online/telephone professionals, etc) than is currently demanded;

          In Ontario this is actually the the stance taken. They have set up a telehealth phoneline staffed by nurses and other qualified people so that people don't go down to the emergency room, or run to the doctor every time you have a rash or a cough. We've used their services quite a few times, and the answers they give are quite good. It's really nice to have a nice way to get quick qualified answers to health questions.

          • by dryeo (100693) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @10:29PM (#24025307)

            In BC they also published and shipped to every household a pretty good book on minor medical problems. I know my household has used the book quite a bit, especially when my son was quite young. And this has led to us not going to the doctor for minor problems.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Deagol (323173)
            "Dial-a-nurse" services are available in the US, as well. We've used them on occasion. That was a long time ago (~8 years), and I was a bit perturbed by the amount of personal info they wanted, but it helped us out a bit. These days, a few current nursing-related books from the thrift store, a recent Merck Manual (though it's online these days), the internet, and ranch/feed-store meds have kept us out of a doctor's office for many years. Indeed, I wish more OTC medial supplies were available so those of
        • by afidel (530433) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @10:18PM (#24025203)
          Actually many states have instituted nurse practitioners, kind of a doctor light for just such reasons. They have to be part of a doctors practice but they can see patients and write scripts (I believe cosigned by the doctor). It's actually often a more lucrative position then a GP because they don't have to carry nearly the insurance load and they share billing resources with the established practice.
        • liberalism (Score:5, Interesting)

          by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000&yahoo,com> on Wednesday July 02, 2008 @01:26AM (#24026443)

          The liberal mindset is that you are not allowed to choose

          That's not a liberal mindset. The original liberalism, Classical Liberalism [wikipedia.org] which stems from The Age Of Enlightenment [wikipedia.org] and The Age of Reason [wikipedia.org], was all about liberty and small government. Among the USA's Founding Fathers who were Liberals were Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Thomas Paine. The father of Capitalism Adam Smith was a Liberal. As used today "liberal" and "liberalism" has been twisted to mean something a lot different than it did.

          Then again other words have had the same thing done to them, like "hack" and "hacker". Whereas a hack used to mean something creative and a hacker was someone who hacked, and writers were hacks too, today they are used for crimes and criminals. As used with computers a hacker follows the Hacker ethic [wikipedia.org].

          Falcon

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So does the garbage man need a PI license, just in case he sees something in the trash? Does the gardener need one just in case the plants dieing in a corner of the yard are due to buried evidence?

    • by Jartan (219704) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:14PM (#24024125)

      We require licenses of many different professions, doctors, medical professionals, accountants even.

      Uhh yea but those licenses actually pertain to the profession in question.

      I don't know why the summary says "small repair shops". In reality such a requirement will throw a total wrench into any big chain that does computer maitenance. Theres no way the kids who work in Best Buy have PI licenses.

      • by AusIV (950840) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:10PM (#24024653)
        I have some friends who work for a digital forensics company (which does require a PI license). They seem to get by having supervisors with PI licenses, and the lower level employees don't have them, but still do some forensic work.

        I'm guessing the Geek Squad will just need to have a PI on duty any time the kids are tinkering on other people's computers.

    • by ardle (523599) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:14PM (#24024129)
      It's cheap to force them to get PI licences: how about a license to practise computer repair, or something? At least they'd be trained in that (maybe).
      Repair staff are effectively being hired to spy on people: they should be paid, rather than the other way around.
      The people gathering the evidence are also capable of planting evidence - and there are a lot of computer repair businesses.
      What happens if someone doesn't report something they find (and doesn't blackmail their customer, either?)
    • by loraksus (171574) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:15PM (#24024143) Homepage

      We require licenses of many different professions, doctors, medical professionals, accountants even.

      I'm sorry, but that's a crap argument. In all of those cases, the licensing requirements are related to the actual job. In this case? Completely unrelated.

      And Louisiana law is fairly different from Texas law. Louisiana is sort of the red haired bastard stepchild when it comes to the law because of the heavy French influence.

    • by Spacepup (695354) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:20PM (#24024195)
      Doctors require a license as a way for laymen to distinguish between a quack who might kill you and someone learned who might kill you. Structural engineers need a license so you can have a reasonable expectation that what they design wont fall down on people. It isn't unusual to have to have a license to work in a particular field. What is unusual is to be required to have a license for a field relatively unrelated. It's rediculous to require structural engineers to get a medical license just because they build hospitals.
    • by un1xl0ser (575642) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:23PM (#24024227)

      I think the biggest issue here, is that police and other criminology people are concerned that if a computer tech stumbles across illegal information on a computer, that since they are not a licensed private investigator, the evidence cannot in any way be used. Even if say, it's for a child-pornography case. "Your evidence was siezed improperly, sorry, but it's excluded, next time do things the right way!"

      I guess that we should also make anyone who develops photos get a PI license as well. That's a great way to boost salaries at Walmart.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arminw (717974)

      ...require licenses ...

      To breathe, drink water, eat, drive, chase dogs or cats, teach, build houses or outhouses or most anything else, hunt or fish, make love with or without marriage, which also is licensed. You'd be hard pressed to come up with something that is NOT licensed or permitted, either directly or indirectly, by some level of government. So big deal, another license to do something in life is added to the collection of thousands of things that government requires licenses for.

      I agree with you t

      • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:37PM (#24024881) Journal
        ...by Kilgore Trout (Phil Farmer actually, not Kurt Vonnegut). The book described a "Prison Planet" that started out as a small prison. As the State continued to pass more and stricter laws, the prison had to keep expanding its walls. At one point the prison walls grew past a great circle and started to contract as the balance of the planet's population shifted toward prisoners. Eventually, there was only one small round brick enclosure remaining, in which resided the one prison guard who comprised the entire planet's population that were not prison inmates.

        Or to put it another way, see the metaphor used by Princess Leia to Grand Moff Tarkin.

        I think the trend to move responsibility into the hands of licensors has rational limits. I believe it is the purpose of satire to determine what those limits are.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RobertM1968 (951074)

      Relevance? Perhaps EMS Techs should have Class C or emergency vehicle drivers licenses? Now of course, EMTs who are ambulance drivers... well, that is a different story.

      You see, unless I am reading all the links wrong, technicians (in general) will not be required to get a PI license. Technicians who do disk forensics will be required to do so... totally different thing - as my example simplifies for those who didnt bother to read past the over-sensationalized articles linked to in the /. story.

    • by conlaw (983784) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:01PM (#24024589)
      Despite the alarmist tone of TFA, the law is obviously not intended to apply to computer repair. It is meant to apply to those whose work involves the review and analysis of material stored on a computer. In other words, Media Sentry will need a PI license to check Texans' hard drives, but the Geek Squad can just keep on as they have been. Sorry, my Texas friends, but you can't avoid working on your mom's Windows Vista machine by telling her you don't have PI license.
      • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:23PM (#24024771) Journal

        It is meant to apply to those whose work involves the review and analysis of material stored on a computer.

        I actually went and looked at the law itself. Yes, it applies to those whose work involves the review and analysis of material stored on a computer. That could be read to apply to pretty much anyone. Do any sysadmin work? Debug any cron jobs? Trying to find out why a partition got full? Heck, read email?

        The law is really, really dumb. Especially since much "computer forensics" is just people (including cops) trained to run a few perl scripts via a nice point-n-click gui. they wouldn't know how to do a sector-by-sector analysis of a drive if you held a gun to their kids' head.

        • by afidel (530433) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @10:53PM (#24025495)
          Exactly, is owning a copy of TreeSize Pro without a PI license now a criminal offense in Texas, because by nature of using the production you are involved in the review and analysis of materials stored on a computer. That was just the first tool I randomly selected on my work PC that falls under that definition.
      • by DaveWick79 (939388) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @10:42PM (#24025409)

        The law very specifically states that it applies to companies doing work as a private security consultant. As a PC service shop, I certainly don't position or consider myself to be in the place of a private security consultant. Even if my customer asks me to do simple data recovery tasks, this does not fall under the umbrella of security consulting, or review and analysis of data. I may recommend security solutions or implement those solutions, but I am not providing the solutions, those are provided by 3rd party software companies. I may recommend security guidelines but I am not ultimately responsible for the carrying out of those guidelines.
        From what I read in the law, it is meant to prevent a company from telling customers they are providing a security solution when in fact they know nothing about security. If I was in the business of doing sitewide security analysis and consulting, maybe I could see the need for some regulation, as the state doesn't want customers getting ripped off by people promising security solutions and not really making anything secure.

  • by Daimanta (1140543) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:04PM (#24024027) Journal

    "PC Repair in Texas now requires a pi license"

    Want to fix PCs? Recite the first 100 decimal places of pi.

  • by vanyel (28049) * on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:04PM (#24024033) Journal

    IANAL, but I don't think PC Mag or "CW33" read the law. Per Section 4a1 and 4b, it only applies if you're specifically snooping in the data on the computer. It says nothing about normal repair. Not that someone disgruntled couldn't try to make a case out of it...

    • by way2trivial (601132) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:09PM (#24024075) Homepage Journal

      especially spyware with names like
      resume.doc.com

      • by oncehour (744756)
        I'm guessing the majority of the industry in Texas will just move to reformat, reinstall. In most cases users don't care about it anyway.
    • by corsec67 (627446) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:15PM (#24024135) Homepage Journal

      I know this is /. and reading the article is bad form, but from the article:

      If a computer repair technician without a government-issued private investigator's license takes any actions that the government deems to be an "investigation," they may be subject to criminal penalties of up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine, as well as civil penalties of up to $10,000. The definition of "investigation" is very broad and encompasses many common computer repair tasks.

      Imagine that doing a "find . -name file.jpg" or similar might be considered an "investigation".

      • by hairyfeet (841228)
        So in other words if I was in Texas and found a file in the Windows folder called "kiddie pron.jpg" I should wipe the PC and pretend I didn't see anything so I don't risk my own ass. See,this is one of those "unintended consequences" things,where it turns around and bites them in their collective butts. That is why when I am fixing a PC I stay away from anything other than the system folders,because it gives me plausible deniability,whereas my fellow PC repair guys that often help themselves to the .mp3s an
      • by Obfuscant (592200) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:05PM (#24024609)
        Imagine that doing a "find . -name file.jpg" or similar might be considered an "investigation".

        Read the entire law. .

        Sec. 1702.104 defines an "investigations company". A person acts as an investigations company if he engages in the business of obtaining or furnishing, or accepts employement to obtain or furnish information related to crimes or activity of a person, or location of stolen property, or cause for a fire, libel, etc.

        A computer repair business in not in the business of doing any of that. They aren't in the business of obtaining information regarding crimes, they are in the computer repair business. The information they gather is "what doesn't work".

        It is 1702.104(b) that seems to be troublesome because it talks about "computer-based data not available to the public."

        The fact that 1702.104(b) defines what obtaining information means is irrelevant, since (a)(1) doesn't apply to a computer repair business to start with. Defining what obtaining data means doesn't change the limitations on who 1702.104(a)(1) applies to. It expands the activities of the people who are covered by (a)(1) to include computer searches.

        If you start a business tailored specifically to PI's and forensic analysis, say fixing broken computers with the explicit intent of getting the data off of them to determine crimes, cause of fires, etc, then yes, you need a PI license. If you are just replacing a defective CPU or disk, no. You are not in the business of obtaining information listed in (a)(1).

        In short, it all revolves around the phrase "in the business of".

        This law is a good thing. It may be possible to sue a "computer repair company" that does, as a matter of regular business, "investigate" the content of your computer when you take it in for repair. They've made themselves "in the business of" by looking for information related to crimes. But Joe Technician who sticks to finding the bad bits and replacing them has nothing to worry about. And if you are stupid enough to make kiddie porn the splash logo on your boot screen, or background image after an auto-login, Joe is still able to call the cops, since his job isn't obtaining the information, YOU gave it to him by your actions.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by loraksus (171574)

      Not that someone disgruntled couldn't try to make a case out of it...

      Or some DA who wants to look "tough on crime" in anticipation of running for office.
      And while I don't want to sound insulting, Texas isn't known for the discretion of their prosecutors or integrity of their police / crime labs.

    • by kjh1 (65671) * on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:21PM (#24024211) Homepage Journal

      IANAL, but I don't think PC Mag or "CW33" read the law. Per Section 4a1 and 4b, it only applies if you're specifically snooping in the data on the computer. It says nothing about normal repair. Not that someone disgruntled couldn't try to make a case out of it...

      Agree w/ vanyel. If you read the original quoted article [wordpress.com], you'll see that the original author only wondered out aloud if this would apply to PC repair folks. From the post:

      "It seems obvious that in order to provide a full range of litigation support services, including forensic examination, then you will have to become licensed. But will all vendors, even those who do not perform such examinations, need a license as well?"

    • Per Section 4a1 and 4b, it only applies if you're specifically snooping in the data on the computer. It says nothing about normal repair. Not that someone disgruntled couldn't try to make a case out of it...

      Yes ... "(b) For purposes of Subsection (a)(1), obtaining or furnishing information includes information obtained or furnished through the review and analysis of, and the investigation into the content of, computer-based data not available to the public.

      Looks like it's aimed at "computer security" consultants, not repair firms.

  • What the frack is going on with this world? What idiots are we electing that enact such stupid laws???!! So are we going to require car repairmen to also have PI licenses since cars contain computers? There are so many damn idiots in this world and most are located in various state and national capitals.
  • No (Score:5, Informative)

    by BenEnglishAtHome (449670) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:11PM (#24024097)

    Please follow the links and see that the summary is wrong. The new law requires a PI license if you act as a private security consultant company (which can be an individual).

    The relevant qualification for the Slashdot crowd are that you must

    engage ... in the business of securing, or accepts employment to secure, evidence for use before a court, board, officer, or investigating committee;

    and do so by

    furnishing information ... obtained or furnished through the review and analysis of, and the investigation into the content of, computer-based data not available to the public.

    IOW, you can't take into divorce court the notion that your spouse was having a cyber-affair based on having your computer looked at by the kid down the block. This doesn't appear to have much effect on most repair shops.

    The text is here. [state.tx.us] Read it. The word "computer" appears in the text just once, so grep for the relevant part.

  • According to this wouldn't it be illegal for a network admin to do forensic research on a security breach? At the very least it seems it would make any evidence found inadmissible in court.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:33PM (#24024331)

    All this means is in order for Geek Squad (or anyone) to perform forensic data recovery for example, on behalf of your local PD, or even a PI, the Geek Squad technician would also need a PI license.

    No. Shit. It would be an obvious loophole otherwise.

    Every computer repair person in the damned state doesn't qualify under (a)(1), sorry pcmag/slashdot. It doesn't take a lawyer to understand this, but you DO have to have more than a 5th grade reading level to backtrack from (b) to (a)(1) I guess. Besides, your shit is "public" as soon as you hand your PC to the repair person. This is not some sinister, evil law, douche bags.

    Sec. 1702.104. INVESTIGATIONS COMPANY.
    (a) A person acts as an investigations company for the purposes of this chapter if the person:
            (1) engages in the business of obtaining or furnishing, or accepts employment to obtain or furnish, information related to:
                    (A) crime or wrongs done or threatened against a state or the United States;
                    (B) the identity, habits, business, occupation,knowledge, efficiency, loyalty, movement, location, affiliations, associations, transactions, acts, reputation, or character of a person;
                    (C) the location, disposition, or recovery of lost or stolen property; or
                    (D) the cause or responsibility for a fire, libel, loss, accident, damage, or injury to a person or to property;
           
    (2) engages in the business of securing, or accepts employment to secure, evidence for use before a court, board, officer, or investigating committee;
            (3) engages in the business of securing, or accepts employment to secure, the electronic tracking of the location of an individual or motor vehicle other than for criminal justice purposes by or on behalf of a governmental entity; or
            (4) engages in the business of protecting, or accepts employment to protect, an individual from bodily harm through the use of a personal protection officer.

    (b) For purposes of Subsection (a)(1), obtaining or furnishing information includes information obtained or furnished through the review and analysis of, and the investigation into the content of, computer-based data not available to the public.

    And please stop posting news of new laws that are obviously not reviewed by real lawyers or people who can fucking read at least. PLEASE.

  • Try reading the law (Score:5, Informative)

    by analog_line (465182) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:38PM (#24024379)

    These articles are a ridiculous over-reaction to the actual law, which I just spent a few minutes actually reading. Nothing in that law has anything to do with computer repair. It DOES have something to do with companies that offer computer forensic services for legal actions, and some repair shops do that, but you shouldn't be going to Corner Computer Repair, or Joe Computer Guy if you have a requirement for forensic work in a legal sense. If you actually think your computer was hacked, you need to get people with the kind of legal training that can get things done the way the legal system requires them to be done.

    The law is in legalese, and therefore hard to read, but the only thing this applies to are people doing this for investigations of a legal nature. There is a long list of exemptions, including one for people who install and repair security devices.

    For a bunch of people that claim to be rational and above superstition, you people are totally credulous when wild statements like this are made. The law is there, it's linked to, read it for yourself.

  • by banished (911141) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:52PM (#24024513)
    And I always thought users should be licensed. Silly me.
  • Read the Law (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:52PM (#24024517)
    I read the law. Well, skimmed it. Either the legislators were really smart or really stupid. "Security industry" is listed there. If computer security is part of the security industry, then a lot of people in TX need PI licenses. I know McAffe had an office there (in North Dallas, and they use the word "security" all the time. Anyone installing an anti-spyware program or virus scanner could fall under this as well. But it hasn't been enforced. What has been told to the computer repair shops is that if they "perform and investigation" they need PI licenses. That hasn't been defined by anyone. Perhaps that means that if you look for spyware, you are performing and investigation. It certainly should include if a husband drops off a computer and tells them to find out what his wife had been doing. Probably covers looking at email headers to determine where a specific email came from. The law is long, hard to read (it isn't a law, but an amendment to one, broken up in chunks and missing all peices not amended, making it pretty much unreadable, and I didn't bother to look for an updated version of the law in its entirety). But also not mentioned, if you help your neighbor set up his X-10 system, both of you committed a crime.

    From what I can tell, the lawsuit is preemptive. No one has been charged. It was intended to be enforced against repair shops that do actual investigations that a PI would be doing if it wasn't on a computer (tracking usage, seeing what people were up to). However, the law was vague enough in some aspects that it could cover much more than was apparently intended, and the lawsuit is to determine what is and is not allowed under the law, and overturn any parts that are onerous enough to violate the state or US constitutions. The law did not say "all repair shops must have PI licenses." The people enforcing the law didn't say that either. However, if they are in the "security industry" or if they perform an "investigation" (and I couldn't find specific definitions of those) then they would need to be licensed.
  • by they_call_me_quag (894212) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:47PM (#24024953)

    Folks, calm down. The fault here seems to lie with the person who wrote the newspaper article. I read the Texas law in question and I don't see a problem.

    Here's the important passage:

    ----
    INVESTIGATIONS COMPANY. (a) A person acts
    as an investigations company for the purposes of this chapter if the
    person:

    (1) engages in the business of obtaining or furnishing, or accepts employment to obtain or furnish, information
              related to:
          (A) crime or wrongs done or threatened against a state or the United States;
          (B) the identity, habits, business, occupation,knowledge, efficiency, loyalty, movement, location, affiliations, associations, transactions, acts, reputation, or character of a person;
          (C) the location, disposition, or recovery of lost or stolen property; or
          (D) the cause or responsibility for a fire, libel, loss, accident, damage, or injury to a person or to property;

    (2) engages in the business of securing, or accepts employment to secure, evidence for use before a court, board, officer, or investigating committee;

    (3) engages in the business of securing, or accepts employment to secure, the electronic tracking of the location of an
    individual or motor vehicle other than for criminal justice purposes by or on behalf of a governmental entity; or

    (4) engages in the business of protecting, or accepts employment to protect, an individual from bodily harm through the use of a personal protection officer.

    (b) For purposes of Subsection (a)(1), obtaining or furnishing information includes information obtained or furnished through the review and analysis of, and the investigation into the content of, computer-based data not available to the public.
    ----

    I don't see how the applies to computer repair shops.

    I searched the entire text and found only two instances of the word "repair", both in reference to the repair of "security devices" and the word "computer" is only used once in the entire document (in the last sentence of the passage above.)

    The "PC Magazine" story cites as it's source a "Dallas-Ft. Worth CW Affiliate." That affiliate published a story penned by:
    "Pelpina Trip, KDAF33 News at Nine Intern"

    It looks like you have all been riled up into a foamy froth by AN INTERN AT A LOCAL TV NEWS OUTFIT.

    Do you feel foolish yet?

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:51PM (#24024975) Journal

    Like all state licensing, the purpose of this measure is to interfere with the market for the benefit of the businesses who are greasing the legislators in question. It has fuck-all to do with quality control or public safety.

    -jcr

  • E-Discovery (Score:3, Informative)

    by cjacobs001 (644842) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @10:55PM (#24025513) Journal
    E-Discovery . . . On 12-1-2006 The Federal Court enacted new rules of procedure which not only recognize and legitimize electronically stored information as being equally as "discoverable" as information contained in all other traditional forms of communications, for all cases heard in the Federal courts, but it also placed requirements on all parties to litigations in the Federal Courts to preserve and to produce as evidence when required, except in limited situations unless otherwise required by the Court, all relevant electronically stored information. This has included all metadata and even the information contained in RAM. So, considering the volatile nature of electronically stored information, a requirement for an investigator's license along with forensics expertise [ when conducting investigations and\or collecting the electronically stored information for possible presentation as evidence ] can only benefit all parties, the courts, and the taxpayers. Traditionally, for uniformity and recognition, the State courts have looked to the Federal Court for direction.
  • RIAA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deraj123 (1225722) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @10:57PM (#24025525)
    So...ignoring the headline and considering the actual law - does this affect the folks doing RIAA's investigations? It sounds (from my uninformed point fo view) like it's written almost specifically for that sort of situation.
  • Confusing... (Score:5, Informative)

    by catdevnull (531283) on Wednesday July 02, 2008 @01:11AM (#24026367)

    I read through the primary source document listed and did not see "computer technician" specifically listed in the language. I just cruised over it and searched for "computer" and "technician" but it only referred to persons who install security equipment such as alarms and surveillance devices.

    Can somebody with better eyes point out the article or section that supports the blogger's statement?

  • by Lodragandraoidh (639696) on Wednesday July 02, 2008 @08:42AM (#24028435) Journal

    It was a wet and smoky night, the kind of night that made my teeth itch. I tipped back my fedora as I polished off that last bottle of Crown Royal that had been mocking me from the bottom desk drawer all day, when Gwendolyn Smalls sashayed through my door, dragging her HP Presario - with a look that would make a small baby cry...

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.

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