The geniuses in our Texas Legislature have been at it again. This time they managed to pass a law, admittedly written by the private investigators’ lobby, that will require every person who does computer repair in Texas to be a licensed private investigator. And if you pay a non-licensed person to fix your computer, you’ll be subject to a fine up to $10,000.
It’s bad enough for our elected representatives to allow special interest groups to write the laws we all have to obey, but then to pass those laws without reading or understanding them is just shameful.
This bill was the work of Rep. Joe Driver, R-Garland, chairman of the House Justice Committee. Here are quotes from an editorial in the Dallas Morning News:
With apparently minimal knowledge of how computers work, Mr. Driver won unanimous approval of a licensing law that applies to any professional who obtains or furnishes information “through the review and analysis of, and investigation into the content of, computer-based data not available to the public.”
Mr. Driver said he never expected that such vague language would apply to computer repairers. “We don’t want them to be prosecuted,” he said. “That’s not the intent.” Yet he expressed confusion when told that computer repair, at a minimum, involves turning on a computer and reviewing its contents – data – to find the source of most common problems, like viruses.
“This is language we got specifically from the industry,” he said of the private investigators’ lobby that wrote his bill, HB 2833. Oh. That’s troubling on its face, but it gets worse.
The Department of Public Safety’s Private Security Bureau has made clear it will go after computer repairers – especially if they are hired to determine why all this Internet porn is popping up on Grandma’s hard drive or why an office worker is visiting prohibited Web sites.
“Computer repair or support services should be aware that if they offer to perform investigative services … they must be licensed as investigators,” the Private Security Bureau said last month. If you hire an unlicensed computer repairer, you could be fined up to $10,000.