Post Process

Everything to do with E-discovery & ESI

Trend in Licensing for Computer Forensics Continues with New Michigan Law

Posted by rjbiii on June 18, 2008

Post Process has already remarked on a Texas law that implies that computer forensics experts must have a private investigator’s license. Now it’s Michigan’s turn.

Joe Howrie has written an article on a new Michigan law that requires people engaging in “computer forensics” to acquire a license as a private investigator:

“According to the state of Michigan Web site, Michigan House Bill 5274, “the professional investigator licensure act,” was signed into law by Gov. Jennifer Granholm on May 28.

According to the terms of the act, it becomes effective immediately (Sec. 29) and it is now a felony punishable by up to a four-year prison term and a $25,000 fine for a person to engage in computer forensics in Michigan unless that person is licensed under the act or falls within one of its exemptions (Sec. 3(3)).”

The exemptions mentions attorneys, but not staff working under a lawyer’s supervision, although Howrie feels that staff would be exempted:

Presumably, the attorney exemption extends to staff employed to assist an attorney as attorneys have historically used support personnel for litigation. If the legislature had intended that lawyers could only use support staff with whom the lawyers had employer-employee relationships, the employer-employee language from 4(e) would also appear in the 4(a) lawyer exemption section.

This particular law, driven evidently from privacy concerns, seems broader and harsher than others we’ve seen recently, including the Texas law. Questions abound: if I am in Houston, and I use an application to pull data from a server in Michigan, for the purposes of preparing some of that data for submission to a court as evidence, am I in violation of the statute? If I merely hold myself out as a computer forensics professional, do no business in Michigan directly, but engage in “forensics” elsewhere, are there any consequences (minimum contacts and the web?).

While protecting the public and privacy is important…is a Private Investigator’s license really the best vehicle for this sort of regulation? Stay tuned…

One Response to “Trend in Licensing for Computer Forensics Continues with New Michigan Law”

  1. […] by rjbiii on July 17, 2007 NB: Updates can be found on Post Process here, here, and […]

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