Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

PC Repair In Texas Now Requires a PI License

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the lumberjack-requires-scuba-license-too dept.

The Courts 729

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."

cancel ×

729 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Slaughterhouse Cases (4, Insightful)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024001)

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:Slaughterhouse Cases (3, Insightful)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024029)

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.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (5, Insightful)

e4g4 (533831) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#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:Slaughterhouse Cases (5, Insightful)

AllIGotWasThisNick (1309495) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (5, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024295)

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.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024057)

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?

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (1, Flamebait)

mustafap (452510) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024251)

Or if I see a crime being committed while I walk down the street?

Yep, it's mad. Best option - leave the state, and work somewhere normal.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024325)

I don't think any of those cases really require a PI license. Repairing a computer is much more likely to produce evidence against someone.

Being a witness doesn't need a PI license... collecting EVIDENCE that can be used in court does.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024429)

Lol, do you know how many times up here in Portland that someone throws away their pot plants and the garbage company calls the cops?

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (5, Insightful)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024455)

There are no evidence collection rules about trash. The owner of that item has already released ownership and rights to keep it from search and seizure.

Here is a hint for you. If you throw something illegal away, you're an idiot, because cops don't need anyone's permission to collect that evidence anymore.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024533)

Repairing a computer is much more likely to produce evidence against someone.

Because computers are inherently evil, or what? Why do you make this statement?

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024343)

A garbage man doesn't need a PI license, as what he is always dealing with is disposed-of materials, the person has already given up all rights regarding that item.

It's perfectly legal for police to take any evidence at all that is located in trash. It's a common thing in some TV shows (kind of over-using the issue, but it's still a valid point). Have a person drink from a cup, then convince them to leave it there. Say, with a paper cup. Congratulations, they just trashed it, and you can legally obtain it no matter what.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (5, Insightful)

Jartan (219704) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (4, Insightful)

ardle (523599) | more than 6 years ago | (#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?)

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024539)

It is not cheap it is 3 years of your life. 3 years of your life in the IT industry is at least 80k dollars for even the lowliest tech.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (5, Insightful)

loraksus (171574) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024143)

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.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024175)

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!"

That's terrifying. Not only do we have businesses making the law, we now have them enforcing it too?

That's two out of three...

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024375)

The whole thing about a PI license, is that businesses can enforce some laws. Just the government wants to make sure that they understand evidentiary requirements, and proper handling so that they don't contaminate the evidence.

With a PI license, they can say, "we found child porn on his computer, and here is the chain of possession, etc." If they planted the evidence then they're subject to significantly harsher penalties, because they're license, and cannot argue that they were unaware of the rules regarding evidence collection.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (5, Insightful)

Spacepup (695354) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024397)

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.

Yes, what you describe is ridiculous. However, a structural engineer can't architect a building. That's much closer to what we're talking about.

In any case, in some states, individuals installing cable, and security systems are required to have a Journeyman's License in order to do what is called "low-voltage" electric work. Other states? No requirement at all.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (1)

srjh (1316705) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024199)

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."

Yes, but we don't require accountants to have medical licenses or doctors to be bar certified.

That's what requiring PC techs to have PI certifications is equivalent to.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024421)

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."

Yes, but we don't require accountants to have medical licenses or doctors to be bar certified.


That's what requiring PC techs to have PI certifications is equivalent to.

No, you've conflated the issue here with certifications and licenses that are not valid analogies.

This is not asking PC repair people to get a license entirely outside of their field. The point is that if a PC repair person does any form of "investigation" on a computer, then they must be PI license. Technically, if you don't do any investigation at all, you don't need a PI license.

The issue here is protecting the consumer and law groups against improper evidence collection during an investigation by someone who is not a police officer.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (3, Insightful)

un1xl0ser (575642) | more than 6 years ago | (#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:Slaughterhouse Cases (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024351)

That's just silly. The people behind the counter don't develop pictures. They just put the pictures in the envelope, and give the envelope of pictures to you in exchange for money. The actual "developing" process is completely automatic. Pictures aren't even developed anymore. They are printed out from a digital image.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024435)

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.

Interesting idea... it's still up to the state to decide so. If the legislature feels that its likely enough that a photo development person will have to deal with collecting evidence, then yeah, they could require a PI license.

And honestly, no one can complain... there's no right to work in any field at all.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (2, Insightful)

arminw (717974) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024309)

...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 that this litigation isn't going to succeed. What should be done is to find out the politicians who were paid off and by whom and vote them out of office. In a sense, every time a legislator passes such licensing laws, they are loading another tax onto the people. It will now cost more in Texas to get a computer repaired. In fact the cost may increase so much, that almost all computers will be thrown out rather than remain in service. It will also increase the number of do-it-yourself computer owners/fixers. They better also license garbage collectors who may now have access to many computers in dumpsters. These computers may have sensitive information on them, requiring the garbage collector to also have a PI license.

Re:Slaughterhouse Cases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024367)

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.

That makes total sense. That's exactly why car mechanics and detailers should also be licensed PIs. I can't tell you how many times you find body parts in somebody's trunk, but the cops can't use the evidence.

Your cop analogy is bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024443)

The people you were pulling over wouldn't be a consenting party. If they are a consenting party, then there is no problem, situations like this already exist, e.g. a security guard on private property.

Tag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024011)

suddenoutbreakofidiocy

On the bright side... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024015)

This should prevent Apple fans using Apple stores as places of worship in that state, since they'll have to close down.

Re:On the bright side... (1)

Tangent128 (1112197) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024333)

Nah, Apple just needs to rent each of their employees a personal, can't-be-used-by-anyone-else computer. Then each employee does have a private i(Mac) license.

I read it as (5, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024027)

"PC Repair in Texas now requires a pi license"

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

Re:I read it as (3, Funny)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024247)

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

Given a lot of the people that repair PCs, it would probably be easier for them to get a P.I. license.

Re:I read it as (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024411)

aw, I was baking an apple pi

I don't think the report is accurate (5, Informative)

vanyel (28049) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024033)

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...

Re:I don't think the report is accurate (1)

Aussenseiter (1241842) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024041)

I'm going to guess that any of the upcoming lawsuits will clarify to whom specifically that clause applies. Guess we'll wait and see.

Re:I don't think the report is accurate (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024423)

I find staying out of Texas solves most of these problems for me. If they want these sorts of poorly thought out regulations that's really their prerogative, I'm just not going to involve myself.

The question though is why would the PI license be required for anything other than forensics? Data recovery might be a reasonable place to require that the technician have a PI license, but very few small shops are going to be willing to do that sort of work, whether legally permitted to or not.

so like-- searching for spyware? (3, Interesting)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024075)

especially spyware with names like
resume.doc.com

Re:so like-- searching for spyware? (1)

oncehour (744756) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024137)

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.

Re:I don't think the report is accurate (4, Interesting)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024135)

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".

Re:I don't think the report is accurate (2, Insightful)

loraksus (171574) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024171)

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.

Re:I don't think the report is accurate (5, Informative)

kjh1 (65671) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024211)

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?"

This law is to prevent me from perv catching (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024317)

I am a contractor that operates outside the box, almost a vigilante. I cannot name what software I use or I would be easily identified. I do not engage in corp espionage but this law would stop me in my tracks if I were to ever have stepped foot in Texas. Thank god, I am smarter than that. I am not the only one out there and some people will simply blackmail you to bankruptcy, but I enjoy staying a few extra nights in town and waiting for the police to drag your ass out of your office when you come in on Monday after the weekend expecting to sit your fat ass down in your office with a new computer and monitor.

First thing I do on any computer I work on in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Idaho or New Mexico is do a search for Child Porn [arstechnica.com] with keywords and a hash check. Hash check works because some of the child porn has been out there since it was just NNTP and email and the particular images are very easy to find. If you can help build a better perv trap for me and others like me, please do I am not a programmer. Over 20 lowlifes turned into the police and feds including a local bank manager, a coffee shop owner and a HS physics teacher. I hope to turn in many more. Have any of y'all done this when you found child porn working in IT, or did you turn a blind eye?

Re:This law is to prevent me from perv catching (5, Insightful)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024541)

I am a contractor that operates outside the box, almost a vigilante. I cannot name what software I use or I would be easily identified. I do not engage in corp espionage but this law would stop me in my tracks if I were to ever have stepped foot in Texas.

Good! You have no right to snoop around other people's computers, even if you think you're doing it for a noble cause. (Which you aren't, by the way -- if you really wanted to help people, you'd go after the ones creating these images in the first place.)

I hope to turn in many more.

And I hope that when your vigilante game finally lands you in prison, you'll meet up with some of your victims.

Re:I don't think the report is accurate (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024323)

PC Mag certainly didn't read the law — they borrowed the story from Gearlog. Nor did Gearlog read it: their post is just a summary of the Institute for Justice press release.

This story is all over the news sites and blogosphere, but except for the IfJ web site, every single post or story is more or less a quote of the Gearlog story. No serious news organizations seem to have picked up on this issue.

I also can't find any trace of Kiwi Computer, the Texas repair shop mentioned in the press release.

Either a hoax, or some weird kind of blog spam.

Re:I don't think the report is accurate (4, Insightful)

Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024345)

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.

On the bright side... (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024035)

You can get two for one deals, fix your computer... AND hunt down your cheating husband!

Re:On the bright side... (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024279)

I figure it gives the PC tech something else to do when there aren't any computers to fix.

wtf is PI license (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024045)

In the name of the not so Texans around the globe, wtf is a PI license?

Re:wtf is PI license (0, Troll)

Iceykitsune (1059892) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024079)

private investigator license, ...moron.

Re:wtf is PI license (1)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024189)

You're the moran you can't even make a legible sentence!11!11!!

Re:wtf is PI license (1)

The Iso (1088207) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024109)

"Private investigator." Not the police, but someone you hire to, for example, follow your spouse around to see if they are cheating.

Re:wtf is PI license (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024229)

You already know it...

Private Investigator... It's just a sane person wouldn't have ever come to that conclusion. It is generally private and it often involves investigation, especially on the repair side, but a PI license?

I'm assuming that the so-called "reasoning" behind it is that your average PC contains private data, that could be incriminating in some way, so PC repair shops should have to have some form of non-disclosure, or "doctor patient" sort of contract, as well as a liability if said information leaks out... which I can understand, however, I don't agree with it, its your choice wether you want your neighbourhood geek to fix your PC, or to go to the local [whatever] who no doubt does have some 'protective' features for such data, and accountability (depending on where you live)... however it may even be for more suspicious reasons, I'm not a PI, but for all I know maybe there is some sort of way that if you are a PI, then you can be forced to disclose information about your clients and whats contained on their PC, that way they can know who all the repair shops/guys are, and can quickly sift through them hunting for [insert something], whereas as a notmal civilian, or small company, you may not have to, and cannot be forced to do such a thing.

I'm at a loss for words... (2, Interesting)

Z-Knight (862716) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024047)

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.

Re:I'm at a loss for words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024437)

Calm down. [slashdot.org]

But it's okay to shoot robbers in the back there! (0, Flamebait)

Newer Guy (520108) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024053)

Yeah, but it's okay to shoot unarmed people you believe to be robbing your neighbor's house in the back with a shot gun there...so I guess it all evens out!

Re:But it's okay to shoot robbers in the back ther (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024101)

Don't know what the PIs are thinking. This is still Texas. They push too hard they'll get an applied lesson in You Don't Fuck with Another Man's Livelihood 101.

It is fine to defend your own and others property (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024123)

In Texas it is fine to defend your own and others property from thieves. The two that were shot may have been armed. And BTW they were both ILLEGAL ALIENS who should not have been in this country in the first place.

Re:It is fine to defend your own and others proper (2, Insightful)

BitHive (578094) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024521)

I've noticed that many people who preach a lot about liberty, gun rights, due process, the rule of law and the government having a monopoly on force are curiously quick to defend the use of lethal force in defense of properties (typically valuable enough to already be insured) that the self-appointed defender may not even own. The not-too-subtle romanticisation of having a free pass to shoot someone is unnerving. I think people should be able to own guns, but I also think you've got some serious self-examination to do if you believe it's moral to execute people because they have stolen something or aren't documented as citizens.

Re:But it's okay to shoot robbers in the back ther (4, Interesting)

cduffy (652) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024167)

Yeah, but it's okay to shoot unarmed people you believe to be robbing your neighbor's house in the back with a shot gun there...so I guess it all evens out!

When you see a couple of strangers breaking the window on a neighbor's house and climbing in, that's a pretty well-founded belief.

Running when someone points a gun at you and tells you to freeze is also pretty damned stupid. If you believe the police officer who was an eyewitness, the folks in question ran at such a trajectory as to be closer to the neighbor with the gun when they were shot than they were when he told them to freeze -- which is exceptionally stupid, as it gives said party with the gun grounds to be legitimately afraid for their life, and thus the ability to shoot. If you're going to run away from the person with the gun who told you to freeze -- which is a bad idea to start with -- you want to run unambiguously away, not towards and then turn.

I don't fault the grand jury for deciding not to prosecute; I would have gone the same way.

Re:But it's okay to shoot robbers in the back ther (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024491)

It's not legal to shoot people that are running away except under very specific circumstances. In most cases you'd have to be law enforcement to get away with it.

Legally you can only shoot and kill somebody in the prevention of a forcible felony. These change somewhat depending upon where you are, but attempted murder is always included. Felonious assault and rape may also be depending upon jurisdiction.

But once the crime itself has occurred and the individual is fleeing, you're no longer acting in self defense and as such can be legally charged in most jurisdictions.

So no, it is not a legal action and it is definitely something which can result in prison time.

Re:But it's okay to shoot robbers in the back ther (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024523)

Why did he point a gun at them in the first place? The dispatcher told him not to and to wait for the police. In Oregon he would of got manslaughter and he would of deserved it. If I was the homeowner he "protected" I would sue him civilly. Thinking you are a good man because you resort to violence when confronted with property theft is anachronistic in most of the civilized world. Texas is a joke.

Re:But it's okay to shoot robbers in the back ther (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024551)

It's also a bad idea to go out and try to stop a bulgary when the police dispatcher specifically tells you not to as there are police on the scene. I would have voted to prosecute.

Good. (1)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024493)

Shoot them twice. In the back of the head. On sight.

End of burglaries in that county for a while.

Good (-1, Flamebait)

linzeal (197905) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024089)

I never much cared for Texas and its insane laws anyways. All this will do is cause any repair to be more expensive and companies in that state to be less competitive nationally. We can always use more folks in the computer industry up in Silicon Forest [wikipedia.org] . People will also come to naively expect more privacy I bet as well. Child porn arrests will go up as a result and Texas will hopefully find some way of executing them, they spend 100's of millions a year on their death penalty system and it is pry one of the top 20 industries in the state; with this in force maybe it will move into the top 10 because any company reliant upon technology is going to laugh themselves right out of the state.

No (5, Informative)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024235)

I think you need to read it more carefully. It forbids you to set up a firewall for your client without a license:

SECTION 3. Section 1702.102(a), Occupations Code, is
            amended to read as follows:
                          (a) Unless the person holds a license as a security services
            contractor, a person may not:
                                      (1) act as an alarm systems company, armored car
            company, courier company, guard company, [or] guard dog company,
            locksmith company, or private security consultant company;

information related to the cause... of a loss... (0)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024283)

The new law requires a PI license if you act as a private security consultant company (which can be an individual).

The amended "Sec. 1702.104." reads (1) engages in the business of obtaining or furnishing, or accepts employment to obtain or furnish, information related to [...] (D) the cause or responsibility for a fire, libel, loss, accident, damage, or injury to a person or to property.

Technician: "Your hard disk's bad..."
Detective: "Could that have made the novel I was working on disappear?"
Technician: "Sure, ..."
Detective: "Book 'im, Dano"

Re:No (5, Informative)

languagehacker (1317999) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024301)

This news story essentially came out like the telephone game. The linked story came from a Daily Texan article (the UT student newspaper) which came from an anecdote by a PC repairman. There were too many intermediaries. The Daily Texan article is available here: http://media.www.dailytexanonline.com/media/storage/paper410/news/2008/06/27/TopStories/Computer.Repair.Technicians.May.Be.Acting.Illegally-3386027.shtml [dailytexanonline.com] And essentially, what it's suggesting here is that you only need a PI license if you're snooping through a user's data for whom you're not repairing the computer. There will be plenty of repair shops taking care of single-owner Dells and Gateways who won't even need to remember the word "forensics" even exists until CSI comes on.

Re:No (1)

languagehacker (1317999) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024357)

I think I didn't get the whole link chain right here. The PC Magazine article linked to a CW affiliate (ha) in Dallas that linked to the Daily Texan. And even better, the CW affiliate posting was done by an intern--icing on the cake, and bad supervision by her superiors. Shame on them for fomenting such needless alarmism on the interblogs.

The more license the better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024127)

This is actually a good news. Finally IT becomes a decent profession. The more license a profession needs in order to operate the more it can charge and the more the public accept.

ho boy.... (0, Troll)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024183)

loool , we laugh a lot with texas in europe. lool what an insane state.

Re:ho boy.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024275)

Really what are you and Texas laughing about?

Re:ho boy.... (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024503)

Really what are you and Texas laughing about?

The fun of butchering English.

These seems even more far reaching (2, Insightful)

richardellisjr (584919) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024191)

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.

avoid the PIs (2, Insightful)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024221)

The state of Texas may be re-assured that its geeks are PIs, but I think many ordinary customers would be more inclined to hire a non-PI.

Seems to me that being a non-PI-repair-guy would be a selling point as having a PI license emphasizes that the geek is there to snoop, not to fix.

Speaking as someone who does not have a PI license, thanks Tx.

Every good man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024243)

Every good man is a PRIVATE "investigator"... with or without license...

So ridiculous (2, Interesting)

ziah (1095877) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024285)

From TFA:
"In order to obtain said license, technicians must receive a criminal justice degree or participate in a three-year apprenticeship. Those shops that refuse to participate will be forced to shut down. Violators of the new law can be hit with a $4,000 dollar fine and up to a year in jail, penalties that apply to customers who seek out their services."

How does that make any sense? I used to work in help desk, and I would be asked to "snoop" data when looking for viruses ALL THE TIME. Although the above poster, who argued that he can't be a cop because of the lack of credentials, it's completely different from that.

Sure, you should have a license, but make that some variant of the CISSP (probably associate). At least that would be beneficial to the person.

PI license seems like OVERKILL to the max on this issue. 3 years of apprenticeship? Criminal justice degree? Who in the computer industry would graduate with a criminal justice degree? Probably not too many...........

I guess this will be good for the people in the industry in Texas, as the supply of techs will become lower therefore the demand will raise...... higher incomes for those techs who can hack it.

Governments need much better knowledge about technology so they don't do stupid things like this, maybe have an official governmental position.....

BAD headline/article (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Oblig ST:Texas reference (0)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024337)

Damn it Jim, im a computer-repair technician, not a private investigator.

Try reading the law (4, Informative)

analog_line (465182) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Try reading the law (1)

ziah (1095877) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024431)

So if I am a tech, you tell me your computer got hacked, is it illegal for me to fix your problem?

Does the law only pertain to a legal investigation? If no one is filing a suit, can I easily repair anyone's computer?

Well (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024405)

I suppose this is what happens when a PC-magazine tries to understand legal speak...

It makes sense (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024407)

Then the Man has go-to guys everywhere to conduct covert computer forensics investigations that could turn up viable evidence that could be used in a court of law. Many small towns can't afford their own independent computer forensics lab. So why not distribute the cost of building a lab to all the guys who stare at the flickering screens all day?

Yes, I am against it due to privacy concerns. But in my head that justification makes sense.

Next week on Slashdot ... (1, Funny)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024409)

Texas computer users thrilled by new law

A new Texas law that requires PC repairmen to hold a PI license has computer users giggling in glee. One user, Guy Pern told PCMag, "finally, I don't have to worry about those blundering fools deleting the thousands of photos of my children when they format my computer to reinstall Windows XP."

FBI agent Brute Farce was disappointed though. After arresting Guy Pern he commented to a PCMag reporter, "I guess it makes our job easier because we can just arrest these pervs when they pick up their computers. But I kinda miss the days of breaking down theirs doors and watching them masturbate in their computer chairs."

This is April Fools, Right? (1)

flajann (658201) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024415)

Wait a second -- after carefully checking the calendar, it has been revealed to me that this is NOT April, but July. So I am confused.

Not to mention that there is little to no money doing computer repair these days. With computers so cheap these days, it does not make sense to spend more than a few bucks on repair. But that would mean that the repairman won't make much bucks either.

Some years back I had taken my CD player into a repair shop for repairs. There it sat forever. Several months later I went there to ask for it back.

When I got it home, I took it apart (it still did not work) and noted that half the parts had be gutted out.

I'll do my own frelling repairs if I want to bother with doing them at all. Usually, I'll just throw the thing out and buy something new. In the case of computers, I'll just gut them myself rather than leaving it around for the repairman to do the same.

Re:This is April Fools, Right? (1)

Danzigism (881294) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024485)

working in the PC repair shop business for over 8 years I'd have to disagree to a certain point. there is still plenty of money in repairing because first of all, people don't want to buy a new computer all the time. at least in my small town, people think of a computer as an investment and plan on keeping it for a good 3+ years. in which case, being that so many new computers are duds due to mass production, they are more than happy to hire the services of a repair shop to clean up viruses, fix program errors, troubleshoot internet connection problems, replace hardware, and so forth. All so that they don't need to go out and buy a new machine and worry about migrating all their old data. surprisingly, the average user that is addicted to their machine wouldn't want to start over again from scratch. plus, people shouldn't be buying cheap shitty machines that they plan on replacing every 2 years or less. get a good warranty, good hardware, and feel good about what you bought rather than complain about it, like the people that hate Vista because they buy an Emachine with a Celeron Processor and 512mb of RAM.

Never Fear? THANK HEAVENS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024451)

It's about fucking time you had to be licensed to be a PC technician. I'm tired of newbie douchebags doing a shitty job of how I earn a living and not charging enough for it. I can't wait for the rest of the states to follow suit.

well dang (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024453)

Guess i better get new business cards printed. Not going to become a PI any time soon, so i'll have to find a new side job.

Ron are you there? (1)

Sauron23 (52474) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024465)

Not sure I'm able to make call here. It does sound like Ron Paul needs to go home and get his own house in order. Blah, orwell, blah Che, blah federalization. Stop breeding. Too many monkeys means nothing worth observing.

linux fags (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024467)

go suck another dick you stupid linux fags. keep taking it up the ass for linus. he loves you for it. big fat dicks.

Give it back! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24024483)

OK, remind me why we haven't given Texas back to Mexico yet? They can have their former Governor back, too. It is a "whole other country," after all...

You need a degree don't you? (1)

with a 'c' (1260048) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024487)

What's so bad about this. I thought "they" require a biology degree to mow someone's lawn. So what's the diff?

How about this instead... (1, Redundant)

SilverBlade2k (1005695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024495)

How about requiring a license to *use* a computer? There are a lot of people that buy a computer yet know next to nothing about them.

Interesting. (2, Insightful)

Neanderthal Ninny (1153369) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024507)

Do they investigate systems from out of state? If anyone has sent in Apple laptop in for AppleCare service they send it a repair depot in Houston, TX or Memphis, TN so what if someone in New York sent in a Apple laptop to the Houston, TX depot what will happen?
Similar to Dell which has an repair depot in Texas also.
A bunch of interesting and scary questions for those who send equipment across state lines for repair.

User License (4, Funny)

banished (911141) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024513)

And I always thought users should be licensed. Silly me.

Read the Law (4, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

This can shut down many stores and IT workers. (0)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#24024545)

This can shut down many stores and IT workers.

Will In side IT works need this as well?

What about Support Vendors, consultants, contractors, contracting IT firms, contractors on contractor to hire, temps, interns, and others.

The big box stores like best buy are unlike to be able to keep up with this may need to shut down there geek squad. What about cable techs who set up cable internet for people?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?