Skip to comments.Best Buy's Geek Squad searched customer computers for the FBI
Posted on 03/07/2018 9:47:13 PM PST by EinNYC
A child pornography case involving a California doctor has revealed that Best Buy's Geek Squad technicians allegedly worked with the FBI to uncover data on customer's computers for years, CBS Pittsburgh reports. A non-profit organization claims that the nature of the FBI's relationship with the technicians may have violated the U.S. Constitution.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit last year after it learned that the FBI allegedly paid Geek Squad employees to pass along information about illegal materials on devices sent in by customers for repairs.
One search led to felony child porn charges against Dr. Mark Rettenmaier after a technician reportedly went through the oncologist's deleted files and called the FBI in 2011. In 2017, a judge ruled that the images found in Rettenmaier's computer could not be considered child porn and the invasive search was illegal. All of the charges were dropped and the case was dismissed after a judge said an FBI agent made "false and misleading statements" to obtain a search warrant for the doctor's house.
EFF says their FOIA request revealed that Best Buy has been working with the FBI for at least 10 years. An FBI memo acquired in the lawsuit shows that Best Buy hosted a meeting and tour of their Kentucky repair facility for the FBI's Cyber Working Group in 2008. The memo and related email also claim that agents "maintained close liaison with the Geek Squad's management in an effort to glean case initiations and to support the division's Computer Intrusion and Cyber Crime programs."
Other court records uncovered in the FOIA search found that Geek Squad technicians were paid between $500 and $1,000 to actively search a client's computer.
The reports have raised concerns that the FBI is using the Geek Squad to bypass the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.
Best Buy spokesperson Jeff Shelman denied the claims in 2017. Shelman said their technicians don't do "anything other than what is necessary to solve the customer's problem," according to The Washington Post. Shelman added that if illegal material is found during those repairs, Geek Squad employees are obligated to contact law enforcement.
In a statement provided to our partner site ZDNet, Best Buy confirmed that three of four managers who received payments from the FBI are no longer at the company. The statement reads in full:
"As we said more than a year ago, our Geek Squad repair employees discover what appears to be child pornography on customers' computers nearly 100 times a year. Our employees do not search for this material; they inadvertently discover it when attempting to confirm we have recovered lost customer data.
We have a moral and, in more than 20 states, a legal obligation to report these findings to law enforcement. We share this policy with our customers in writing before we begin any repair.
As a company, we have not sought or received training from law enforcement in how to search for child pornography. Our policies prohibit employees from doing anything other than what is necessary to solve the customer's problem. In the wake of these allegations, we have redoubled our efforts to train employees on what to do -- and not do -- in these circumstances.
We have learned that four employees may have received payment after turning over alleged child pornography to the FBI. Any decision to accept payment was in very poor judgement and inconsistent with our training and policies. Three of these employees are no longer with the company and the fourth has been reprimanded and reassigned."
Try calling the authorities to report that your residence was broken into and then prohibiting their entry and see if they support your claims of “break in”.
...”How much was the Geek Squad paid for “finding” kiddie porn on computers brought in for repair?”...
I hope such claims are fully investigated by honest people because I can see such material being planted by skilled geeks who might want to earn an extra buck. A way should be found to regulate pornography of all kinds on the internet. We regulate it in other places. Why not there?
Indeed! I doubt that many natural born citizens of the US now trust the FBI, either. In addition, I'll bet the Trump haters who claim to, actually do not trust them. What thinking person would, with such seeming evidence of politicization and double standard in those ranks? It is a shame and a grave danger for our nation.
I cannot even express how horrible this is. In the medical field we use pictures for training and to keep our recognition skills up.
This poor man. How much did it cost him? Was there publicity that ruined his reputation?
I had the Geek Squad try to recover a hard drive for me some years back. If they did as sterling a job for the FBI as they did for me, the guy will walk. They were like a bunch of monkeys with hammers. I got nothing off my drive, even though they tried twice.
See above for new Geek Squad logo...
How do we know Best Buy authorized this?
And that this wasn’t just about kiddie porn...
What this requires is a Congressional investigation, with parties called under oath.
I won’t hold my breath while I wait.
Whose computers were involved?
Bet this wasn’t just about kiddie porn...
So hiring a fiction writer in the UK to “find” evidence wasn’t that unusual for them.
Did this start during the Obama admin?
Because if so, bet the Feebs weren’t just looking for kiddie porn....
The album "Nevermind" by the rock group Nirvana features a picture of a naked child on the cover. The millions who purchased this album are guilty of possesion of child porn. Right?
It would have been easy for one of their geeks to put some crap on the computer and then blame the customer. Prosecutors don’t give a $hit if they get the right person. They can roast the owner of the computer who can’t prove that he didn’t put the $hit on it.
Land of the free?
Nobody is advocating “kiddie porn” but the concept that their employees are pawing around through people’s files is disconcerting, to say the least.
If Geek Squad was doing it for the FBI, they would also possibly do it for someone willing to pay money to look for anything else...personal/financial information, etc.
Wow. I wouldn’t do business with Geek Squad after hearing this.
I do work that requires me to have full access to various computers, and I have gotten into the process over the years of putting on tight and focused blinders.
I have trained myself not to look.
There is a way to regulate and to successfully block porn. However Legal Eagles have decided that it is a impingement on constitutional rights of freedom of speech.
Here’s the method, for pornographic sites use XXX rather than WWW. Software would be able to determine just by that one simple change to the URL whether or not to block it.
Any extraneous porn found on WWW sites would be dealt with severely and that would bring the industry in alignment with the wishes of those wanting to protect businesses or those under the age of legal consent from viewing such material.
To be fair, many computer issues have been caused by malware that infected computers visiting porn sites.
There could be a high incidence of kiddy porn users having computer problems that were caused by their illicit online activity.
But Geek Squaders going on a fishing expedition for the FBI and even collecting a bounty of some sort is way over the line beyond just reporting a crime that was inadvertently discovered in the course of normal business activity.
Could be if some one in power decides to make an issue of it. Guess I better use a sharpie on my copy of it!
Of course it is art. /s
“If Geek Squad was doing it for the FBI, they would also possibly do it for someone willing to pay money to look for anything else...personal/financial information, etc.”
Precisely! However, any accusations of the sort would be immediately be met with the utmost righteous indignation.
Consider the police or feds paying auto-repair shops to examine cars for contraband while under repair, and have the cops pull you over as soon as you pick up your car.
If you rent, your landlord has the key to your apartment and is often allowed by the rental contract to inspect the apartment. Can he plant bugs for the feds while there?
Anything that is improper for "law enforcement" to do directly, is improper when done by a paid third-party.
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