Two news article in Two days have made me ill…when does it all stop?
A new Texas law requires every computer repair technician to obtain a private investigator’s license, according to a lawsuit filed in Austin. Violators can face a $4,000 fine and one year in jail, as well as a $10,000 civil penalty.”
This law is starting to get some added press attention and the few additional articles I have found seem to imply that this law may have a bigger impact then the fine Representative believes. This may be a case of a poorly written law that is over reaching in scope only due to wording (interpretation), and not intent. My concern comes more from the messaging it will send to, and about, IT professionals.
IT professionals must maintain a very high degree of trust. We have the keys to the kingdom, so to speak, and people must trust us with access to data before we can be effective in our job. A law like this will not increase the trust factor on either side. Employees who do not trust the IT staff to keep information confidential OR are certain that IT staff will not be snooping in their data will absolutely work to circumvent IT systems. This will happen and I have seen what happens when employees believe IT cannot be trusted. It is not a pleasant environment to work in or attempt to manage. It takes a long time for new IT leadership to rebuild trust once it is destroyed.
On the other side, will the “PI” (Private Investigator) title entice more snooping by IT? I believe, for some, it will. This would cause the employee fears to become reality and create an adversarial relationship that will only spiral downward.
I would support a background check for all IT professionals and is already done by most large corporations. I do not want someone with a criminal background or who has been dismissed for improper handling of confidential data to work for me. The reality is that most companies do not give out any information about past employees so you are often left to the applicants word or hiring a service to complete background checks. (Check references you say?, Oh Please – like you can trust any of them to be objective.) Just ask San Francisco what happens when you hire the wrong IT guy!
I hope this law gets struck down and written in a more targeted method. If you want the “PI” status for forensic IT professionals – that might be reasonable (might!). However, it is not reasonable for the local Best Buy or mom-n-pop computer shops’ employees to be so licensed.
This law makes no sense and will just put productive people that are providing a good service out of work. It will create a rift inside larger organizations between the IT group and the people they support. This is a loose-loose situation.