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Private Investigator or Forensics Expert

What do I have in common with Magnum PI? What does id have in common with Dog the Bounty Hunter? Well in the state of Texas we all need PI licenses. That’s right, if you want to help anyone recover from an incident, investigate computer theft, or engage in any sort of investigation relating to computers whatsoever, you need to become a private investigator in Texas. We can chalk this up to lawyers legislating something they completely fail to understand.

Firstly, I highly doubt any of my customers would get any more value out of hiring Dog the Bounty Hunter to hunt through logs, or recover deleted data. Secondly, legislators are making broad statements like, “the computer industry needs cleaning up”. I’d like to make my own broad sweeping statement, “legislators who write ill-concieved laws need cleaning up.” I understand the reasoning, as poor as it might be. Proper handling of evidence, is always an important thing for convictions, but this is far more broad than that - even delving into the inner workings of private companies working to help other private companies do business.

I guess I better start waxing my chest and wearing dog tags, so I can start understanding how these darned computer thingies work.

21 Responses to “Private Investigator or Forensics Expert”

  1. Aaron Spuler Says:

    Don’t forget to grow that Magnum PI stache while you’re at it….

  2. RSnake Says:

    And a mullet. All business in the front and all party in the back.

  3. Jon A. Longoria Says:

    Heh, you monkey, you got to this issue and blogged it before I could :p … I might still vomit on it a little.

    Never fear, there is a NPO at work on your behalf to lobby the State of Texas to fix this idiotic problem they’ve created.

    Technically, Best Buy’s GeekSquad is in direct violation of this statute along with a hundred other small-time computer repair companies in Texas.

  4. Tim Crothers Says:

    Michigan (where I live) requires the same thing as of the end of May. Really brilliant law-making as usual.

  5. phaithful Says:

    At least you’ll get to drive around a Ferrari 308 GTS … id is stuck with the Land Rover

  6. t Says:

    Scott Moulton is talking about this kind of bull at defcon (https://www.defcon.org/html/defcon-16/dc-16-speakers.html#Moulton). He has been trying to raise awareness of this issue for a long time.

  7. crazy_lil_white_guy Says:

    Don’t forget that you need a black friend with a helicopter… go with god bra

  8. k Says:

    Texas just another great state finding computer technicians are doing investigations and obtaining evidence for civil and crminal cases. C’mon computer techs…fix them, build them, make them go, sell them….but leave the civil and criminal investigation work to the licensed professionals. That’s why the law is getting more specific. Computer techs just want the extra money doing high tech investigaions without the licensing and criminal background checks that go with that licensing. The Texas law does not require a PI license to do computer tech work….READ IT first…its obvious that some computer techs may not know how to read and understand law.

  9. RSnake Says:

    @k - no one said “computer tech work.” I specifically said forensics (please re-read the post). Computer “techs” surprisingly do know a lot more about identifying problems with computers than your average PI. And it’s precisely the specificity in this law that’s lacking, hence the lawsuit against the state.

  10. Awesome AnDrEw Says:

    While I would most definitely choose rsnake over Tom Selleck any day of the week in terms of their investigative work I am sorry, but I would select Dog the Bounty Hunter over id. It’s nothing personal, id, because you are in fact my favorite beer-drinking lightbulb and all, but there is something oddly entertaining albeit strangely alluring about a mulleted religious fanatic who takes Corey Hart’s “Sunglasses At Night” to heart while ruining upstanding citizens’ good times and rights to recreational narcotic usage all while pretending to be Hawaiian (he is from Colorado). He has to “lay off the ice, brah”.

  11. thrill Says:

    I would have compared you two to Simon and Simon over the ones you got up there..

  12. Jordan Says:

    Second the motion on checking out Moulton’s DefCon talk. He got screwed over by Georgia years ago with some very similar legislation, and that instance, it might have even been partially aimed at him personally. Of course, he solved the problem by just /buying/ a PI company and merging it into his forensics shop.

    Funny solution to a crappy problem that not everybody can afford to do.

  13. id Says:

    k, it appears you haven’t read the law either.

    (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.

    If you read logs, and identify bad guys for money, you broke the law without a PI license.

  14. id Says:

    btw, the sponsor of the bill, Joe Driver, he’s clueless

    http://www.networkperformancedaily.com/2008/07/texas_law_requires_pi_licenses.html

    And as someone who has looked into getting a PI license in TX, it’s nearly impossible for people who are best suited to doing computer forensics to get one. Well…I guess I could put my company on hold for 3 years while I go work for a PI firm so I meet the licensing qualifications to get my company licensed…

    That said, I would have no problem with taking a test to prove my qualifications, or even becoming a PI if there were a practical way to do it. 3 years stalking jilted lovers just isn’t practical.

  15. Jon A. Longoria Says:

    @id
    Heh, you’re absolutely right id, I couldn’t have said it better myself. That piece of legislation is far too broad.

    Another I came across awhile back last October is here http://thereformed.org/2007/10/25/us-code-gives-twenty-for-free/ . Laws are much too generalized sometimes and there are far too many of them these days.

  16. ForensicFrank Says:

    I suggest putting a fully licensed PI onto the payroll for the express purpose of using their state justice department PI number. My old company had a fully licensed PI on staff whereby all of us forensic types could fall under his number to get our licenses. I paid the $350 to spend 8 days in class for the standard PI license out in VA. This allowed me to work out there or any other state with a crossover agreement. Areas I didn’t have the state-to-state agreement, we hired someone from a local forensic shop to ride shotgun. We found that as long as this person could testify we could still do the work legally. It helped of course to have had a full-blown lawyer as a forensic analyst as well.

  17. id Says:

    While that might be a good option for doing business, it just goes to show that the law doesn’t do any good at all. I don’t envy the lawmaker’s position, they are trying to protect people from being taken by unscrupulous “security” experts. But in the process they were taken themselves, whether by ignorance or part of the PI industry trying to make a buck, it doesn’t matter, no one is being helped by the law. Really I think more people will be hurt by it, because now “licensed by the state of Texas” investigators, that know jack shit about real computer forensics will edge out experts in the field with years of experience.

    Good intentions - road to hell, etc…

  18. id Says:

    and just for the record Dog needs to get his ass kicked on camera.

  19. Joseph W Shaw II Says:

    The American Bar Association just released an opinion piece on this specific issue that uses Texas in the majority of its examples, and it is as well thought out and reasoned as you would expect. In summary: Texas’ position on PI’s as forensic investigators is idiotic.

    http://www.abanet.org/leadership/2008/annual/recommendations/ThreeHundredOne.doc

  20. Roxy Heart Says:

    at least yall have car! im doing this crap for a school project! >=[ i want to be a criminal justice forensic private investigator! but who the hel knows how to research this stuff, i mean my goodness im a 14 year old in the 9th grade. How am i supposed to know??? GEEESSSHHHH!!!!

    ~Love God Each day you live

  21. Eric Johnson Says:

    Hey Roxy, Let me know if you need any help with your school project. I’ve been a Denver private investigator for 16 years, so if you have any questions about your research let me know.
    Eric