On September 1st, 2007, Texas House Bill 2833 went into effect. One of the things that this bill affected was the computer service industry. To many, this law was going to create a problem for those that work on and maintain computers. The original thought was that ALL computer technicians were going to have to be licensed by the State of Texas as private investigators. If you are interested in more about what the thought was at that time, please read our archived page about the law, from when we first learned about it.
The Texas Department of Public Safety – Private Security Bureau gave a couple of public opinions on the House Bill in an effort to clear up any misconceptions in the law. Without this opinion, a lot of computer support technicians would have been in violation of the law.
Computer Forensics - August 21, 2007
When the law about computer service and the need to have a Private Investigators license first came out. There was a lot of up roar over this new law and lots of concerns that many computer businesses would have to close. Here is the exact wording taken from the State of Texas website.
August 21, 2007
The computer forensics industry has requested clarification of the department’s position regarding whether the services commonly associated with computer forensics constitute those of an “investigations company” and are therefore services regulated under the Private Security Act (Chapter 1702 of the Occupations Code). It is hoped that the following will be of assistance.
First, the distinction between “computer forensics” and “data acquisition” is significant. We understand the term “computer forensics” to refer to the analysis of computer-based data, particularly hidden, temporary, deleted, protected or encrypted files, for the purpose of discovering information related (generally) to the causes of events or the conduct of persons. We would distinguish such a content-based analysis from the mere scanning, retrieval and reproduction of data associated with electronic discovery or litigation support services.
For example, when the service provider is charged with reviewing the client’s computer-based data for evidence of employee malfeasance, and a report is produced that describes the computer-related activities of an employee, it has conducted an investigation and has therefore provided a regulated service. On the other hand, if the company simply collects and processes electronic data (whether in the form of hidden, deleted, encrypted files, or otherwise), and provides it to the client in a form that can then be reviewed and analyzed for content by others (such as by an attorney or an investigator), then no regulated service has been provided.
The Private Security Act construes an investigator as one who obtains information related to the “identity, habits, business, occupation, knowledge, efficiency, loyalty, movement, location, affiliations, associations, transactions, acts, reputation, or character of a person; the location, disposition, or recovery of lost or stolen property; the cause or responsibility for a fire, libel, loss, accident, damage, or injury to a person or to property; or for the purpose of securing evidence for use in court. Tex. Occ. Code §1702.104. Consequently, we would conclude that the provider of computer forensic services must be licensed as an investigator, insofar as the service involves the analysis of the data for the purposes described above.
With respect to the statutory reference to “securing evidence for use in court,” we would suggest that the mere accumulation of data, or even the organization and cataloging of data for discovery purposes, is not a regulated service. Rather, in this context, the department would interpret the reference to “evidence” as referring to the report of the computer forensic examiner, not the data itself. The acquisition of the data, for evidentiary purposes, precedes the analysis by the computer forensic examiner, insofar as it is raw and unanalyzed. The mere collection and organization of the evidence into a form that can be reviewed and analyzed by others is not the “securing of evidence” contemplated by the statute.
This analysis is consistent with the language of HB 2833 (Tex. Leg. 80th Session), which amends Section 1702.104. The amendment confirms that the “information” referred to in the statute “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.”
 It may well be that the hardware on which the data exists is itself the product of an investigation, but that is a separate question.
Computer Repair and Technical Assistance Services - October 18, 2007
Now, computer repair and support business still were confused by the first opinion issued by the State of Texas, so a second opinion was issued. This text is copied directly from the State of Texas website.
October 18, 2007
Computer repair or support services should be aware that if they offer to perform investigative services, such as assisting a customer with solving a computer-related crime, they must be licensed as investigators. The review of computer data for the purpose of investigating potential criminal or civil matters is a regulated activity under Chapter 1702 of the Texas Occupations Code, as is offering to perform such services. Section 1702.102 provides as follows:
§1702.104. Investigations Company
- A person acts as an investigations company for the purposes of this chapter if the person:
- Engages in the business of obtaining or furnishing, or accepts employment to obtain or furnish, information related to:
- Crime or wrongs done or threatened against a state or the United States;
- The identity, habits, business, occupation, knowledge, efficiency, loyalty, movement, location, affiliations, associations, transactions, acts, reputation, or character of a person;
- The location, disposition, or recovery of lost or stolen property; or
- The cause or responsibility for a fire, libel, loss, accident, damage, or injury to a person or to property;
- Engages in the business of securing, or accepts employment to secure, evidence for use before a court, board, officer, or investigating committee;
- 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
- Engages in the business of protecting, or accepts employment to protect, an individual from bodily harm through the use of a personal protection officer.
- 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.
Please be aware that providing or offering to provide a regulated service without a license is a criminal offense. Tex. Occ. Code §§1702.101, 1702.388. Employment of an unlicensed individual who is required to be licensed is also a criminal offense. Tex. Occ. Code §1702.386.
Now, you might be asking yourself, especially if you read those two sections above, what does this mean for me as a customer and what does it mean for a computer business. Well its rather simple, if you break it all down, but it basically states that a computer repair service, including CodingCREW, can still do computer repairs without a private investigators license. By the way, CodingCREW operates under the guidance of a licensed private investigator, so we can operate under all the laws related to this.
The first opinion, which talks about Computer Forensics, talks about computer forensics ,data acquisition and data recovery from a computer and what the difference is and if you have to be licensed or not. We have broken them down to show a little information in regards to both and what the difference is between them.
- Data Acquisition – recovering data that could be hidden, deleted, encrypted or otherwise lost and unviewable
- Computer Forensics – this is data acquisition (recovery) for the purpose of analysing the data for a customer and providing a report to look for things such as employee malfeasance, fraud, illegal activities, employee monitoring and other such things that could be used for legal reasons, employee termination and similar reasons. Requires us to be licensed as a Private Investigator per State of Texas law.
- Data Recovery – this is also data acquisition, but for the purpose of recovering data for a customer from a failed hard drive, accidental deletion, virus/malware attack and similar computer related issues. Once the data is recovered, its is returned to the customer without analysing, expect for test files to see if they were recovered correctly. This does not require us to be licensed as a Private Investigator.
- One unique thing about this is that the State also says that acquiring said data listed under the Data Forensics section above can be recovered by a non-licensed person/company, if they are not analyzing the data, but providing it to the client in a form that then can be reviewed and analyzed for content by someone else.
The second opinion goes on to clarify information a little more. It states that if we offer to perform investigative services on your computer for you, that we have to be licensed as (or operated under) a Private Investigator, which CodingCREW does. If a company wants to assist you with solving a computer-related crime, you have to be licensed. The review of computer data for the purpose of investigating potential criminal or civil matters is a regulated activity under Chapter 1702 of the Texas Occupations Code, as is offering to perform such services.
So this shows that a regular computer company is not prevented from providing any computer related services anymore, as long as those services are not regulated by the State of Texas.
In 2019, CodingCREW partnered with Your Private Investigators LLC (TX # C09403101) to bring back the ability to perform computer and data forensics work for our customers. We are proud to be able to offer our clientele a wide variety of services to meet their technology needs, including services that are regulated by the State of Texas.