CROSSING STATE LINES AND THE PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR
Compiled from e mail posts sent to NAIS and the private-eye list

NOTE: These are opinions and remarks expressed by NAIS members and members of the private-eye mailing list. This should not be considered official NAIS postions, just remarks made by members on licensing regulation when one crosses a state line.

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Subj: PI> Here's a question!
Date: Wed, Aug 14, 1996 4:53 PM EDT
From: drunyon@abcs.com
Sender: owner-private-eye@IntNet.net
Reply-to: drunyon@abcs.com
To: private-eye@IntNet.net

This should stir up some spirited dialog!

I am looking for opinions, caselaw, etc... regarding the topic of PI's
and/or InfoBrokers advertising in states in which they are not licensed to
operate.

For example, what if you decide to go the "Nick & Rob" way and embark on a
national advertising campaign. The services they offer would fall under the
PI licensing guidelines in certain states. Do they have to be licensed
accordingly in each and every state that sees the advertisement.

What about Internet advertising? Does a PI or InfoBroker who advertises on
the net, where prospective customers from various states can view the ad,
need to have a license in each of those states?

How many and which state's allow for an out-of-state PI or InfoBroker to
solicit business within that state and perform services as well? Are there
reciprocal agreements for licensing?

I'm curious! I, along with many others I have communicated with via e-mail,
have always wondered this and nobody ever seems to discuss it much.

Regards,
DOUG


Doug!!

Who knows?

Certainly, I, as an information broker pay taxes in Georgia. Until each
State finds a way to monitor Internet business, or better yet, how to
collect from firms not conforming to their respective rules and
regulations it is probably a mute point.

We have been doing business nationally since 1979, and as far as I know
the only requirement for Information Brokers is to pay appropriate fees,
taxes (Federal, State,Local), business licenses and "get out of Dodge".

Charlie Courtois
Xukor
--

Doug,

Good topic. In my opinion, the advertising agency would not have to be
licensed in the state advertised unless services are actually conducted in
that state. However, on the other hand, state regulatory agencies differ in
their enforcement of this issue as you are well aware.

As for the internet, folks are actually visiting the company's site and the
company is paying for their site and remaining at the same location. I don't
see any regulations on this area in the near future. For instance, I am
currently responding to your post from London,England, tomorrow, God willing,
I'll be back in the U.S. Anyone wanting to keep track of where I decide to
blow my horn is going to become very tired keeping up.

Respectfully,
Dan Hodge, President,CEO
D.A.H. Investigative Consultants
Cincinnati, Oh - Ft. Thomas, Ky - London, England
http://www.pimall.com/dah/dah.html


In re of: drunyon@abcs.com remarks:

Although the actual rule will vary greatly from state to state (as a few states like Colorado and Oregon still don't have any state licensing at all) I feel that the rule of thumb (in general terms) is that if the case is done within the state, only a license is needed for that state. Many states have written reciprocity laws into the state licensing statute which makes it ok for neighboring states in re of PI's in those states occasionally crossing the state line and conducting investigation as long as the primary investigation is in one state. However, many states do not have such laws and DO have a policy that if you conduct any form of private investigation within their state, you need a license.

I know dozens of investigators who maintain licenses in their home state but are consistantly required to travel to other states and countries to conduct their investigations. Does this mean that these investigators need a license in every state to be really a national service? Do you need a license in every country that requires a license in order to conduct international investigations? If you had to obtain a license is all states that require a license-how much would it cost you in both funds and time. If you run a national SSN trace on a skip trace and pull credit bureau information from another state and that state requires you to have an investigative license to conduct skip tracing, have you broken the state law? If that is the case, I would say that at least 75% of the investigators have done so.

These are all kind of gray areas that need to be worked out as more and more investigations are crossing state lines and international boarders. Some of the model licensing law that addresses these problems are

THE STATE OF FLORIDA
THE STATE OF LOUISIANA

Both states specifically address reciprocity issues. More states need to do so and that is where state private investigative associations and national associations come into play. There is a lit of state private investigative associations posted in the PI MALL under the NAIS section <http://www.pimall.com/nais> which will have a massive update first of next month.

Ralph Thomas
National Association Of Investigative Specialists, Inc.
http://www.pimall.com/nais

Subj: Re: PI> Crossing State License
Date: Thu, Aug 15, 1996 7:54 AM EDT
From: pvteye@traveller.com
X-From: pvteye@traveller.com (Rex Louis Holder, Jr.)
To: RThomas007@aol.com

North Carolina is one state that does not recognize PI licenses from other
states. You must be licensed there to conduct an investigation in that
State.
Another Thread here?, Like with 1 party 2 party question, would be nice
information to have on file.
Corporate Investigative Services
Huntsville, AL 35803
(205) 881-2598
http://www.hsv.tis.net/~pvteye

Subj: Re: PI> Here's a question!
Date: Thu, Aug 15, 1996 8:10 AM EDT
From: pvteye@Traveller.COM
X-From: pvteye@Traveller.COM (Rex Louis Holder, Jr.)
Sender: owner-private-eye@IntNet.net
Reply-to: pvteye@Traveller.COM
To: Private-Eye@IntNet.net, Proinv@pihome.com


----------
> >What about Internet advertising? Does a PI or InfoBroker who advertises
on
> >the net, where prospective customers from various states can view the
ad,
>
>
> As for the internet, folks are actually visiting the company's site and
the
> company is paying for their site and remaining at the same location. I
don't
> see any regulations on this area in the near future.

Yes, however, what about web sites hosted not in the State of the Agency's
physical location? If your site is hosted and maintained in the State
where you are licensed, I would see no chance of future regulation as
visitors are coming to your site. However, sites that are hosted on
servers located outside of the State where an Agency is licensed could be
construed as conducting business in another jurisdiction and possibly be
open to future regulation. We all know how hungry States are for revenue,
all it would take is some ambitious State Politician trying to make a name
for himself, the rest would be history,

Rex Holder
CIS
http://www.hsv.tis.net/~pvteye

Subj: Re: PI> Crossing State License
Date: Thu, Aug 15, 1996 9:32 AM EDT
From: aaction@bridge.net
X-From: aaction@bridge.net (A Action Investigations & Security INC.)
To: RThomas007@aol.com

Dear Ralph,

Im located in the State of Florida. I do strickly trademark work around the
U.S. I must use an asso company to assist us with all of our civil and
criminal investigations. Your right on the issue. We need more help in
trying to get a compromise to work a case from our lic state into another state.

Eric A Berger & Associates


-----
> >As for the internet, folks are actually visiting the company's site and
> >the company is paying for their site and remaining at the same location.
> >I don't see any regulations on this area in the near future.

Nor do I see much logic in this argument or your concerns, read on

> Yes, however, what about web sites hosted not in the State of the Agency's
> physical location? If your site is hosted and maintained in the State
> where you are licensed, I would see no chance of future regulation as
> visitors are coming to your site. However, sites that are hosted on
> servers located outside of the State where an Agency is licensed could be
> construed as conducting business in another jurisdiction and possibly be
> open to future regulation. We all know how hungry States are for revenue,
> all it would take is some ambitious State Politician trying to make a name
> for himself, the rest would be history,

Stop and think about it for a moment. Have you ever placed or read an ad by an
investigative firm in the newspaper? TRIAL magazine (the ATLA publication)? THE LEGAL
INVESTIGATOR?, The NEW YORK TIMES? THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE? You get the picture.

All of these are based in a certain jurisdiction or venue yet all have national,
international circulation or, at the very least, multi-state circulation. Let's throw
caution to the wind here for a moment and assume that unless the ad or the internet
website specifically says "we'll investigate anyone, anything, anywhere" you're not
going to have a problem with the regulatory agencies. If I put an ad up on the Web it's
so people looking for an investigator here in Northern Illinois or Southeastern
Wisconsin - states in which I am licensed - can find me, not so somebody living in
Yakima, WA can hire me to investigate what a wayward spouse may be doing in the next
town over. Any regulation which would inhibit my efforts in this regard would, I
suppose be restraint of trade. After all, does anyone know of a law that prohibits
citizens of one state from seeking medical care for a doctor licensed in another state?
an accountant? a lawyer? Of course not.

Now, if we could only get the super zealous bureaucrats that everyone seems to be
worried about to do something about the unlicensed practitioners WITHIN our borders
as they are supposed to be doing that would be great.

Just my $0.02<g>


Subj: Re: PI> Here's a question!
Date: Thu, Aug 15, 1996 6:32 PM EDT
From: djc@epix.net
X-From: djc@epix.net (David J. Crook)
Sender: owner-private-eye@IntNet.net
Reply-to: djc@epix.net
To: private-eye@IntNet.net
CC: Private-Eye@IntNet.net

What we're looking at is new technology with social consequences only
beginning to impact us all and parameters not yet defined by law. A
good analogy is in the migration Westward in the 19th century. The
Easterners, with their Eastern and European heritage, brought the
common law, which included Riparian Rights. This is the body of
common law that evolved to govern water rights in water-rich England
and the East.

In the West, it was totally unsuitable to the different environment
of the arid west. (As Mark Twain said, "Whiskey's for drinking,
water's for fighting over." Any Westerner can tell you this hasn't
changed much.) So, new laws were ultimately legislated, of necessity,
to address the new reality.

What we've seen with the overturning with the Communications Decency
Act (an oxymoron coming from Congress !!!...but that's another
issue), is the START of societal and governmental efforts to define
under law the parameters of the communications revolution started by
PCs owned by "everyman" and linked together with no possible central
control.

The gentlemen below are considering some serious realities. Consider
some possible scenarios:

If in sitting at my PC in Pennsylvania, I buy an item from a business
website of a company in California, but with the website on a server
in Nevada and charge the purchase to my Chicago Bank & Trust Visa,
the purchase control of which is on a mainframe in New York...to
which state do I owe sales taxes? None? All? PA?...Is the company in
California liable to Pennsylvania, or any other state, for not
collecting any taxes?

If I'm corresponding with a minor in Alabama by email and make
remarks or send images which Alabama law considers obscene but which
Pennsylvania law doesn't, am I liable under Alabama law? What if I
route the messages/images through an anonymous server that sends the
messages by way of Canada?

If I send the text of material copyrighted in the US, from my PC in
Pennsylvania, by way of a chain of servers to an open website in
Britain, have I violated copyright laws? What if I send the same
material from my laptop when I'm on a trip into Ontario, to a Usenet
group on a Canadian server, from which it gives worldwide access? Am
I liable? Is the server owner/operator?

I suspect that the next few decades will be seeing great changes in
global society and the laws that govern them. One thing's for
sure-the lawyers will keep their meters ticking! ;-)
----------
> From: Bob Hrodey <bhrodey@starnetinc.com>
> To: pvteye@Traveller.COM
> Cc: Private-Eye@IntNet.net; Proinv@pihome.com
> Subject: Re: PI> Here's a question!
> Date: Thursday, August 15, 1996 9:49 AM
>
> Rex Louis Holder, Jr. and others have written:
> >
> > ----------
> > >What about Internet advertising? Does a PI or InfoBroker who
advertises on the net, where prospective customers from various states can
view the ad, As for the internet, folks are actually visiting the company's
site and the company is paying for their site and remaining at the same
location. I don't see any regulations on this area in the near future.
Nor do I see much logic in this argument or your concerns, read on
Yes, however, what about web sites hosted not in the State of the
Agency's physical location? If your site is hosted and maintained in the
State where you are licensed, I would see no chance of future
regulation as visitors are coming to your site. However, sites that are hosted
on servers located outside of the State where an Agency is licensed
could be construed as conducting business in another jurisdiction and
possibly be open to future regulation. We all know how hungry States are for
revenue, all it would take is some ambitious State Politician trying to
make a name for himself, the rest would be history,

Stop and think about it for a moment. Have you ever placed or read
an ad by an investigative firm in the newspaper? TRIAL magazine (the ATLA
publication)? THE LEGAL INVESTIGATOR?, The NEW YORK TIMES? THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE? You get the picture.

All of these are based in a certain jurisdiction or venue yet all
have national, international circulation or, at the very least, multi-state
circulation. Let's throw caution to the wind here for a moment and assume that unless the ad
or the internet website specifically says "we'll investigate anyone, anything,
anywhere" you're not going to have a problem with the regulatory agencies. If I put an
ad up on the Web it's so people looking for an investigator here in Northern Illinois or
Southeastern Wisconsin - states in which I am licensed - can find me, not so
somebody living in Yakima, WA can hire me to investigate what a wayward spouse may be
doing in the next town over. Any regulation which would inhibit my efforts in this
regard would, I suppose be restraint of trade. After all, does anyone know of a
law that prohibits citizens of one state from seeking medical care for a doctor
licensed in another state? an accountant? a lawyer? Of course not. Now, if we could only get the super zealous bureaucrats thateveryone seems to be worried about to do something about the unlicensed practitioners WITHIN our borders as they are supposed to be doing that would be great.
>
> Just my $0.02<g>

David J. Crook wrote:

> What we're looking at is new technology with social consequences only
> beginning to impact us all and parameters not yet defined by law. A
> good analogy is in the migration Westward in the 19th century. The
> Easterners, with their Eastern and European heritage, brought the
> common law, which included Riparian Rights. This is the body of
> common law that evolved to govern water rights in water-rich England
> and the East.

I don't necessarily disagree with these thoughts but in my original reply to the other
gentleman, the core issue was essentially the question of advertising across state lines
by a professional licensed in only one or two jurisdictions.

> Act (an oxymoron coming from Congress !!!...but that's another
> issue), is the START of societal and governmental efforts to define
> under law the parameters of the communications revolution started by
> PCs owned by "everyman" and linked together with no possible central
> control.

Certainly _some_ laws either by enacting new statutes or adapting existing laws through
court decisions will be necessary to address some of the concerns brought about by the
new technology.

> If in sitting at my PC in Pennsylvania, I buy an item from a business
> website of a company in California, but with the website on a server
> in Nevada and charge the purchase to my Chicago Bank & Trust Visa,
> the purchase control of which is on a mainframe in New York...to
> which state do I owe sales taxes? None? All? PA?...Is the company in
> California liable to Pennsylvania, or any other state, for not
> collecting any taxes?

This, to me anyway, is nothing new. I routinely purchase goods by telephone and mail.
My credit card transactions _may_ currently follow much the same course as you describe
above as do the goods I purchase. I'm trying to remember the computer company that is
located in one state, has a shipping warehouse located in Ohio adjacent to Airborne's
hub. That would be a pretty good parallel to what you describe. The taxation issues,
etc. are already covered I presume so moving it over to the net should be no big deal in
that regard. To me, it's simply the difference between using AT&T long distance and US
Sprint or MCI. Different equipment, different routing, same end result.

> If I'm corresponding with a minor in Alabama by email and make
> remarks or send images which Alabama law considers obscene but which
> Pennsylvania law doesn't, am I liable under Alabama law? What if I
> route the messages/images through an anonymous server that sends the
> messages by way of Canada?

What happens if you send the same material by US Mail, United Parcel Service, FEDEX?
Think about it. If you send something from Chicago to Indianapolis via FEDEX, under
your argument you'd best be sure you're not violating TN law, 'cause in the wee small
hours, that package is gonna be sitting in Memphis, right?

> If I send the text of material copyrighted in the US, from my PC in
> Pennsylvania, by way of a chain of servers to an open website in
> Britain, have I violated copyright laws? What if I send the same
> material from my laptop when I'm on a trip into Ontario, to a Usenet
> group on a Canadian server, from which it gives worldwide access? Am
> I liable? Is the server owner/operator?

If you send it by mail, by Xerox copy hand delivered to the guy next door, by direct
computer link so that it exists on both computers simultaneously (simplistic, like
Borland's old restriction), FEDEX it, or send it by carrier pigeon, you've violated the
law. It's kinda like killing someone, really doesn't make any difference if you use a
knife, a gun, poison or a bomb. You've killed and him that's that.

> I suspect that the next few decades will be seeing great changes in
> global society and the laws that govern them. One thing's for
> sure-the lawyers will keep their meters ticking! ;-)

On this we surely agree. There are going to be new problems brought about by the the
use of the internet, but I suspect it will be more in the area of how such activities
that are already illegal are prevented from occuring with the ease afforded by the
internet and how the perpetrators of such acts will be traced and prosecuted.

Bob

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