If you live in Texas and ask me to fix your computer, the answer is no.

Not because of the distance involved, I’ve done long-distance trouble shooting and repair using just Remote Assistance on many occasions, but because in Texas you have to be a licensed private eye to do computer support:

According to the law passed in the 2007 Texas legislative session, the private investigator’s license is required for repair technicians to analyze their customers’ computer data. This analysis is common for business managers who wish to track their employees’ computer usage or families who want to find out where their children or spouses have been online, said Matt Miller, executive director of the institute.

“Anyone that analyzes computer data has conducted this regulated service and needs a license,” Miller said.

Rife said he determines how computer viruses originate by evaluating private data. He frequently repairs family computers that have viruses and is often asked to discover if a family member’s account caused the virus.

If a computer repair technician conducts a computer service that the government considers an investigation, the technician could be subject to a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. This law also considers consumers who knowingly enlist an unlicensed company to perform an investigative repair subject to the same penalties.

And if you live in Texas and do computer repair and aren’t a licensed private eye then you’re breaking the law as well. Fortunately an advocacy group down there called “The Institute for Justice” is suing on the grounds that the law is unconstitutional, but for the moment certain PC repairs could make you an outlaw.

4 thoughts on “If you live in Texas and ask me to fix your computer, the answer is no.

  1. Er, no.

    Read the actual law. The PI license requirement only applies when a person is working on an electronic surveillance device, or searching for data for criminal (/“national security”) purposes.

    This is simply yet another example of someone mis-reading the title (or whatever) of the law and passing the mis-information on.

  2. That’s quite possible, GuySome. I admit I’ve not read the law in question myself. Depending on how it’s worded though there could be some cause for concern. If it’s vague enough it could be problematic.

  3. Guess I gotta read up on that one since I do work on computers in Texas. 
    Found this from the article’s comments:
    http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/psb/docs/psb_opin_sum.pdf

    Still doesn’t clear it up, since they don’t address hunting down a virus on a system.  It seems to be focused on criminal investigations, but then, malware that is setting up your system to be a bot or stealing your data seems to push the removal into the realm of dealing with a criminal act.  I doubt that was the intent, but the lettering is what matters in court. 

    Usually when it’s the owner doing their own security stuff, it doesn’t require licensing.

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