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Do You Have to Be a Private Eye to Collect Digital Evidence?

Some states have laws which may require a computer forensics examiner to be a licensed private investigator.

Section 1702.104 of the Texas Occupational Code addresses investigations companies. It specifies when collecting information related to a crime or wrongs against a person requires a license.

"(a) A person acts as an investigations company for the purposes of this chapter if the person:

(1) engages in the business of obtaining or furnishing, or accepts employment to obtain or furnish, information"

Obtaining information includes:

". . . the review and analysis of, and the investigation into the content of, computer-based data not available to the public. The repair or maintenance of a computer does not constitute an investigation for purposes of this section and does not require licensing under this chapter if:

(1) the review or analysis of computer-based data is performed only to diagnose a computer or software problem;(2) there is no intent to obtain or furnish information described by Subsection (a)(1); and

(3) the discovery of any information described by Subsection (a)(1) is inadvertent."

In Michigan, section 6 of the Professional Investigator Licensure Act of 1965 addresses the qualifications needed for a private investigator.

"A graduate of an accredited institution of higher education with a baccalaureate or postgraduate degree in the field of police administration, security management, investigation, law, criminal justice, or computer forensics or other computer forensic industry certificated study that is acceptable to the department."

Electronic Discovery and forensics experts worried about going back to college to get a degree in order to be able to continue to work in the Wolverine State can relax. The Michigan State Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs allows computer forensics examiner to qualify under section 6 of the Act by completing certification programs. See this policy statement. The requirements are fairly rigorous however. One must obtain a cybersecurity certification. The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) ; Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA); and the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certifications are listed as options by Michigan, but not limited to those programs. A separate computer forensic certification must also be acquired. No specific programs are cited, but they must include 40 hours of training, a written exam, and either a 'practical exam' or a 'peer reviewed paper'.

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