[K12OSN] OT: Texas School IT folks - Beware!

ahodson at elp.rr.com ahodson at elp.rr.com
Sun Jul 6 00:51:58 UTC 2008

Folks @ my Linux UG are being told to share this with their legal
Dpts. It can affect our ability to act on "bad user" tips or on
repairs at large. W/O licenses, not only are IT folks acting illegally
in a lot of cases, they are vulnerable to lawsuits and
New Texas Law Limits Computer Repair To Licensed Private Investigators
Institute for Justice Texas Chapter Opens in Austin with Challenge to Statute

WEB RELEASE: June 26, 2008
Media Contact:
Matt Miller (512) 480-5936
John Kramer (703) 682-9320

[First Amendment]

IJ client Mike Rife cannot compete with a government-created cartel
that demands he close his businesses and complete a three-year
apprenticeship under a licensed private investigator to get a
state-required license to fix computers.

Austin, Texas—The Institute for Justice—the nation's leading
litigators for entrepreneurs who find their rights violated by the
government—opens its new Texas Chapter today by filing a lawsuit
against the Texas Private Security Board, a state agency, on behalf of
computer repair shops that are being told they need a private
investigator's license to continue solving their customers' computer

Under the new law enacted in 2007, Texas has put computer repair shops
on notice that they had better watch their backs any time they work on
a computer.  If a computer repair technician without a
government-issued private investigator's license takes any actions
that the government deems to be an "investigation," they may be
subject to criminal penalties of up to one year in jail and a $4,000
fine, as well as civil penalties of up to $10,000.  The definition of
"investigation" is very broad and encompasses many common computer
repair tasks.

To get a private investigator's license, owners of computer repair
shops would have to close their business while they either obtained a
criminal justice degree or completed a three-year apprenticeship under
a licensed P.I.

But the repair shops are not the only ones at risk.  The law also
criminalizes consumers who knowingly use an unlicensed company to
perform any repair that constitutes an investigation in the eyes of
the government.  Consumers are subject to the same harsh penalties as
the repair shops they use: criminal penalties of up to one year in
jail and a $4,000 fine, and civil penalties of up to $10,000—just for
having their computer repaired by an unlicensed technician.

The newly launched Institute for Justice Texas Chapter (IJ-TX) is
challenging the new law under the Texas Constitution by filing a
lawsuit in Travis County against the Private Security Board on behalf
of Texas computer repair companies and their customers.

Mike Rife, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, operates AustinPCTech, a
company he started more than 10 years ago.  Rife has hundreds of
satisfied customers and his business is thriving.  Rife now operates
under a cloud of uncertainty about which repairs the government will
allow him to perform for his customers.

David Norelid, another plaintiff, is co-owner of Citronix Tech
Services in Houston.  Norelid started Citronix in Florida before
moving to Texas to pursue his degree in information technology
management.  Norelid said, "If I was required to get a P.I. license to
run my business, I'd have to shut my business down."  The flexibility
of being an entrepreneur allows him to work full time while going to

Rife and Norelid do not doubt their ability to compete with so-called
"big box" competitors in the computer repair business.  What they
cannot compete with is a government-created cartel that demands they
close their businesses and complete a three-year apprenticeship under
a licensed private investigator to get a state-required license—or
risk jail time and large monetary penalties if they continue serving
their customers without one.

Thane Hayhurst owns and operates Kiwi Computer Services and iTalent
Consulting Group, both in Dallas.  Kiwi Computer is a traditional
do-it-all computer repair company that Hayhurst has operated in Dallas
since 1992.  More recently, Hayhurst opened iTalent Consulting, which
offers IT outsourcing services to many prominent local businesses.
iTalent sends employees on assignments (some lasting for many months)
to clients' businesses where the consultant works to implement on-site
computer and IT solutions.  Both of Hayhurst's businesses are impacted
by the new law because he and his employees are not licensed private
investigators.  Hayhurst is worried the government will decide he can
no longer offer many of the services he currently provides to his
clients.  Hayhurst said, "There are thousands of computer contractors
performing valuable services for almost every organization in Texas,
and this law will hinder their ability to remain gainfully employed."

Joining the computer repair companies as a plaintiff in this case is
consumer Erle Rawlins, who frequently uses independent computer repair
shops to keep his Dallas-based real estate buyer agency business
running.  Rawlins said, "This law is totally unfair.  It requires
using someone who is more expensive and may not be as good, and it
uses government power to limit the number of competitors who are out
there.  It is bad for consumers and it is bad for entrepreneurs."

The filing of this case marks the launch of IJ-TX in Austin.  Lead
attorney on the case is IJ-TX Executive Director Matt Miller.  Miller
said, "Texas is working hard to bring technology innovators to our
state.  Yet the government is now telling them they need to get a
private investigator's license if they want to continue working here.
That is not an effective strategy to grow our technology talent pool."

Miller concluded, "It makes no sense to require a computer repairman
with 10 or 20 years of experience to get a degree in criminal justice
just to continue working in his occupation.  This law will drive up
the price of computer repair for everyone, and that's exactly what the
private investigations industry wants."

The Institute for Justice is a public interest law firm that advances
a rule of law under which individuals can control their destinies as
free and responsible members of society.  IJ has additional chapters
in Arizona, Minnesota and Washington state.  IJ-TX litigates under the
state and federal constitutions to reinvigorate economic liberty,
preserve property rights, promote educational choice and defend the
free flow of information essential to politics and commerce.


Alan Hodson
 Fight the Digital Divide

More information about the K12OSN mailing list