Sunday, January 4, 2009

A call to arms

Well not really to arms in that we should be brandishing weapons. Rather we should be brandishing our legal arms and need to stand up for ourselves and protect our industry and our right to perform our duties. Nothing in 2008 illustrated this more than the Private Investigator laws that popped up in many states. The legislators are perhaps the worst informed about how our industry actually works. Conversely they have been lobbied the hardest by those who wish to force their wills upon us and our industry. In some states, forensic analysts and small business owners stood up for themselves and managed to have laws drawn up appropriately. However, in many other states we stood idle while the laws that affect us were drawn up around us. We still have no governing body for digital forensics. We are still an industry born out of Information Technology rather than science. Yes, steps are being taken to get us included in scientific forensic organizations, but this is not enough. We need to get more involved in the decisions that affect us the most. For example, physical memory analysis has been huge since it's true inception in 2005. We need to decide how we want this type of analysis to be used in a legal setting. There will likely come a time when legal matters can be decided on the basis of memory analysis. Many people were taken by surprise when the PI laws seemingly materialized from thin air, yet they had been in process for quite some time already.

We need to be prepared as an industry. We need to stand up for our industry. We need to improve our industry. We need to pay attention to the legislation that affects our ability to perform our duties. Digital Forensics must become Digital Forensic Science.


Ken Pryor said...

I'm currently in LE, but had hoped to get into private forensics work after I retire. With these ridiculous laws, I may as well forget that. I've already been a cop for 21 years, but according the the State of Illinois, that doesn't even qualify me to take the PI exam.

I would love to see some way to reverse this trend. I have a friend in private work in Michigan who is likely being victimized by their new PI requirements.

The PI's have their lobbyists, general aviation has the AOPA, ham radio has the ARRL, etc, to fight for what they want. So far, digital forensics has nothing of that magnitude to do the same. It's a shame there is no one group that can step up and take the lead.

Jimmy_Weg said...

As a result of my appearing before the PI Board in MT, we have a bill introduced that will exempt us from PI licensing. You can check it out at

The bill also addresses other issues, but you'll see the relevant section in Exemptions.