Private Investigator License May Be Required for Computer Forensics

Computer Forensic professionals are quickly finding out that several states are now requiring them to be licensed as private investigators.

A recent article in Baseline Magazine details how legislators in South Carolina have introduced pending legislation where “digital forensic evidence gathered for use in a court in this state must be collected by a person with a PI license or through a PI licensed agency.”

The Texas Private Security Board recently made a ruling regarding the licensing regulations which effect computer security consultants and computer forensic examiners. They felt that it is important that these computer related practitioners, as well as the entities hiring their services, are familiar with the licensing regulations, as violations carry steep financial and legal penalties.

There is no doubt that these regulations will cause computer forensic experts to create strategic business alliances with private investigators to insure that evidence they collect is not thrown out of court over licensing issues.

What do you think about this? Should computer forensic experts be required to have a PI license? Do private investigators have the necessary training and expertise to conduct computer forensic examinations?

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12 thoughts on “Private Investigator License May Be Required for Computer Forensics

  1. Computer Forensics was developed as a law enforcement tool. There are many people who can use computer forensic software, but they fall into the definition of an extractor and recovery practitioner. Recovery of information is only one part of Computer Forensics. Investigation of the recovered content is the primary focus of the recovery process. Forming an opinion as to the user activity, time stamps, relevant information connected to an inquiry is truly in the Investigative field. Confidentiality and responsible documentation is required and the Investigator is mandated by the licensing body to ensure confidentiality and accuracy. Large insurance policies are also required to cover acts and omissions of investigators. A client is entitled, as is the subject of the investigation, that a true and accurate account of his/her computer use is assured. If you snoop into the lives of people who face some form of discipline or criminal violation and you provide this service for money, then one needs to be a Law Enforcement officer, Attorney or Private Investigator. In house use of an employee to extract the information should not be included in the License requirement. An employee is not a contractor.

  2. Wow, look at the propaganda from the unlicensed computer forensics people:  “only PI’s are supporting licensing”  “The simple truth is that being a PI has very little to do with being in computer forensics…”  (Just from two commenters)

    Usually the unlicensed ones talk this way.  PI’s support licensing.  Computer Forensics is by “legal definition” an investigation.    I know of many PI’s who are computer forensics experts.  In one state the “founder of computer forensics” is a licensed PI, and he goes way back.  States support licensing.  Clients support licensing.  etc.  It’s to protect the public, stupid, from the growing number of computer forensics fraudsters, incompetents, and more. 

    Geez, the fees being charged for computer forensics brings out the high tech coackroaches.  One guy in CA is now in prison after testifying several times as a computer forensics expert before his criminal history was discovered and false resume. 

    It is humorous how unlicensed computer forensics examiners or investigators, whatever they call themselves believe they are so special, so godlike that they are immune from licensing.  Ask a barber, lawyer, taxi driver, pilot, teacher, CPA, engineeer, doctor, and others why they are licensed.  Arrogance is one of the problems with computer geeks who think they can expand into civil and criminal high tech investigations without licensing.

  3. These laws will do little to “professionalize” digital forensics and much to lower the qualified workforce in the states which implement such laws. The simple truth is that being a PI has very little to do with being in computer forensics. Computer forensics requires knowledge and a background in Information Systems. You can’t bring in Rockford Files to analyze a drive and expect him to do anything but bungle it all up sideways. Putting a PI through a crash course in computers and digital forensics just isn’t going to do anything but create a dangerous overconfidence.

  4. How can I find out which state require licensing for out of state Computer Forensic companies?
    Thank you,
    Barbara

  5. I am a PI in Washington State who is working on getting my PI license in Oregon as well to be able to work with insurance companies. Which as any of you who own/run an agency knows is a very hard field to get into. They insist on complete professional attitude and work product. With all the hoops that We as Investigation Agencies have to go through just to be able to practice are art, I think that it is only right and nessasary that ALL investigators NEED to be to have the proper documents for the state in which Investigators intend to work. The computer forensics is not that NEW. Its been around for many years now to where the industry has been so saturated with individuals who cash in on some NEW line of investigation that it has become “open season” for anyone who thinks that all they need to be able to do is get information form the computer. Computer Forensics must be held to the same standard as any Investigation Agency or Agent. At the same time if individuals want to “do” what those of us the are legitimate Agencies “do” without the proper licenses and insurance and have a non-professional attitude and work ethic, then by all means be our guest, because it only makes US who are working to make this industry as professional as possible look much much better. And WE will get the work and will get it done right.

  6. Computer crimes are almost everywhere. Computer Forensics Specialists are hired by companies to determine why the hacker made such things. They collect evidence that arelegally admissible in court, and protect corporate assets and reputation. The best way to become a forensics expert is to attend a training session with a computer forensics training expert.And that is the COMPUTER FORENSICS TRAINING Course Computer Forensic Certification.

  7. The PI licensing laws are being enforced NOW, in many states, and it’s been going on for several years now. The issue is getting attention because of those who did not check the licensing laws, and are getting caught. Oh well it will all work out. Only the qualified, licensed, and background cleared professionals will survive….AS IT SHOULD BE…

    The computer forensics field is getting messy, unprofessional, and needs a cleanup. One of the responders is IT and he thinks he can do investigations too, while unlicensed! I hope you do a case where I am on the other side so I can show you how licensing laws are enforced. I have been on cases and know how it’s done.

  8. With so much at stake with security and data protection for business computer users and home users – sensitive personnel files and private identity information, etc. – upping the ante on requirements for computer consultants and anyone that deals with sensitive information seems to make sense. I think it’s possible we’ll see heavier precautions being taken as technology continues to advance, particularly when it comes to government agencies and other entities. It seems like increased regulations could also open up a lot of new partnership opportunities for computer consulting firms as well.

  9. PI’s need to understand there own state statues on computer forensics when it involves pornography. Some states, such as Michigan, you must be a law enforcement officer or work for a law enforcement agency and then there strict guide lines. Know your own state laws!

  10. These will be “special” PI licenses issued to individuals who don’t do the “gumshoe” stuff. Also unless you’re an ex-Fed forget about getting into this line of work, plus Encase is very clear about considering anyone who’s ever done any defense work as “being on the other side”. After hearing that crock it became clear this was going to be a waste of time. I have a business as an IT consultant which is going well, investigations is still an interest but IT pays the bills. Having said that this experience is very useful in analyzing “incidents”.

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