When I started this blog, one of the decisions that I made was to keep it politics free. I think I regret that decision now. So my new 4th of July resolution is to be a bit more outspoken.
I am a technician by trade. I have been a technician since 1979. I have done other things at times, but I have supported my family for a long time by doing repair. To put that date in perspective, the Vic 20 was not out until the next year. I am an old timer in this field. Come to find out, that my career, skills, livelihood, and future are of little consequence to the politicians of Texas.
Texas House Bill 2833 is a strange beast and one of the least clear bits of legislation that I have read. It does however state,
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:
(3) engage in business activity for which a license is required under this chapter.
SECTION 4. Section 1702.104, Occupations Code, is amended to read as follows:
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
(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;
(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.
SECTION 11. Section 1702.226, Occupations Code, is transferred to Subchapter F, Chapter 1702, Occupations Code, redesignated as Section 1702.1045, and amended to read as follows:
Sec. 1702.1045 [1702.226]. PRIVATE SECURITY CONSULTING COMPANY [CONSULTANT]. A person [An individual] acts as a private security consulting company [consultant] for purposes of this chapter if the person [individual]:
(1) consults, advises, trains, or specifies or recommends products, services, methods, or procedures in the security or loss prevention industry;
Sec. 1702.381. CIVIL PENALTY. (a) A person who is not licensed under this chapter, who does not have a license application pending, and who violates this chapter may be assessed a civil penalty to be paid to the state not to exceed $10,000 [$1,000] for each violation.
(b) A person who contracts with or employs a person who is required to hold a license, certificate of registration, or security officer commission under this chapter knowing that the person does not hold the required license, certificate, or commission or who otherwise, at the time of contract or employment, is in violation of this chapter may be assessed a civil penalty to be paid to the state in an amount not to exceed $10,000 for each violation.
My best interpretation of this law is that, in the Great State of Texas, Without being a private investigator, I cannot legally pass any information that I obtain while working on a computer. Nor can you hire me to do so. We could both be imprisoned for one year and fined $4000 for engaging in this activity. Nor can I give recommendations on backups or computers based on security of data. So I cannot tell you how you got your virus, nor can I tell you who loaded files on your computer.
The intent of this bill, may or may not be positively motivated. Private Investigators serve a needed role in our society. We don’t want just anyone taking money to follow, scrutinize and spy on us. At the same time, when you are accused of a crime, or are being stolen from, you need to be able to find someone with the skills to dig up information for you. Having someone hire a hacker or computer geek to see if your husband is cheating on you, could seriously ruin your life without previous cause. Is the technician going to keep copies of stuff, or fake issues so you keep paying them? A private investigator at least can loose his livelihood if he strays too far. There is a reason that having loose cannon investigators is against the law. This does not mean that the law should be vague, overly broad, and endangering of the lives and careers of honest technicians. Nor do I mind good clear laws that would require ethics of technicians. I suspect we will be seeing attempts at doing that soon enough.
My wife called the office of the state representative (Representative Joe Driver, R-Garland, website http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/dist113/driver.htm) that pushed this bill through. After expressing concern that this destroyed her husband’s livelihood, the lady in the office that had apparently helped put this bill together, told my wife that she clearly did not feel the same way about protecting the populace of Texas. When my wife asked what this had to do with protecting people, the lady accused my wife and I of being sympathetic towards child molesters. What this has to do with public safety and child molesters is anyone’s guess.
Odd thing is, that as I read it, this bill protects child exploiters from my coming forward with evidence.
I have at times worked with the police to help them find and interpret computer information. It, in fact, has been part of my job tasks. Specifically, the task requested of me has often been to protect the safety of children. Now I may be at risk if I help the police. Cooperating with the police may actually be giving evidence against myself . Next time a child is receiving threats of violence, I must risk a felony to help protect that child. I won’t go into some of the other issues that children need to be protected from. Sometimes the children need information directly in order to protect them from harm. Now that may be a felony offense. Even if I am assured that I am safe, as long as the law on the books is unclear, I may be at risk. Nice laws, nice law makers.
Who knows? I may have to become a private investigator to remain a technician.