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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Magnum, IT

Here's a viral tech story out of Texas. A television station there reported last week:

A new Texas law requires every computer repair technician to obtain a private investigator's license. Violators can face a $4,000 fine and one year in jail, as well as a $10,000 civil penalty.

Unlicensed computer shops will have to close down until they obtain a private investigator's license.

A private investigator's license can be obtained by acquiring a criminal justice degree or by getting a three-year apprenticeship under a licensed private investigator.

The law to which the story is referring to is reported by several sites to be this one. I am reading it, and to my untrained eye, it doesn't seem to say what the TV story says it says. Depending on what kind of work the IT geek does for a customer, it seems as though a license may or may not be required.

But hey, maybe the TV station intern who wrote the story knows better than I. Apparently the lawsuits over this have already begun flying.

Comments (5)

The entire occupational licensing thing is a scam anyway and should be abolished.It does little, or nothing to protect consumers.


Occupational licensing puts people on the public payroll....forever.

I'm an independent IT consultant, and I'd be very concerned about this law if it were enacted in Oregon. The problem seems to be one overly broad statement that could be interpreted many ways. During the course of normal computer repair, I may need to examine system logs, browsing history, email, software installation, running processes and often do an exhaustive, extensive search for malware, all of which could run afoul of this part of the law:

"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."

An IT person has nearly total access to the data on a system that is "not available to the public", and some PI in Texas with a buddy in the legislature figured that out. Gonna be interesting to see the fur fly over this one.

An excellent example of a government solution seeking a problem. Sounds like some legislator has too much free time.

Every bad law starts as the solution to some problem someone saw. The trick is to use something to limit the tendency for laws to divide and multiply and proliferate like kudzu. I've always liked the rule I heard about once: before you pass any law, first imagine it being applied to you by your worst enemy, and then proceed accordingly.

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