Digital Forensics Professionals: Texas PI Legislation Interpreted

Automated Traffic Enforcement Opinion:  Relevant to Electronic Discovery Work?

A Texas state government agency has published a formal opinion interpreting controversial new legislation on the licensing of computer forensics experts as private investigators. The Texas Private Security Bureau says it “generally” feels the private administrators of traffic enforcement cameras need not be licensed as PIs. The ruling may help us construe this new law in other contexts, such as e-discovery performed by computer forensics professionals.

The agency’s reasoning is that the companies running traffic cameras are engaged in only “ministerial” activities at the direction of public servants (i.e. city employees). But the Bureau says its opinion applies only “generally” to traffic camera operators because some operators might be doing more than mere “ministerial” activities.

To say it a different way: It is the opinion of this arm of Texas government that private red-light camera administrators are not performing the kinds of investigations that require a license. Instead, says the agency, the cities (like College Station, Texas) that hire the administrators are the entities performing the investigations. And the legislation excludes city governments from licensure.

The Texas Private Security Bureau… Continue Reading

Benjamin Wright is a Senior Instructor for the SANS Institute, teaching data security law courses remotely, on-site and at national conferences.

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Senior Instructor for SANS Institute, law of data security and investigations. Attorney in private practice.

3 thoughts on “Digital Forensics Professionals: Texas PI Legislation Interpreted”

  1. Here in Nevada, it’s the opposite. Any forensics work is equated to an investigation, therefore a PI license is required. Even if a PI license is not required, licensing should be required (with fingerprinting) since access to computers and data is typical, thus some screening is needed.

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