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."
I agree. If kiddie porn turned up in routine computer repair, it’s one thing. But to get paid by the state for digging around in search of it is despicable.
I worked for major photofinishing companies for years and occasionally came across kiddie porn. The police were notified and that was the end of our involvement.
15 will get you $20.
Since Best Buy was working as an agent of the FBI they must follow all procedural rules of evidence gathering. Fruit from the poisoned tree.
What an idiotic business decision by Best Buy. Who will trust them now?
In the mid 80’s worked for a Unix shop. If there is anything I’m going to say it’s this: Erase and scrub your hard drives before sending them in. If you’re sending it in for data recovery then you’re SOL.
If it’s terribly important and sensitive and you simply must have it recovered you have them do the recovery while you’re watching them.
What would happen if an earth shattering, slam dunk national security case fell into the lap of the FBI?!...Oh, I forgot, it did happen with Hillary Clinton.
Knowing the corruption that infests todays FBI, I would not be the least surprised the FBI targeted people for destruction, then paid Best Buy to plant child porn evidence.
Early on when I started using computers I had a problem and needed a recovery of my hard drive. The guy who recovered it for me made some comments about my taxes. He had no clue but hinted he thought I had done something wrong, I hadn’t. I was PO’ed. I’ve never taken another computer for repair.
When I first heard about Best Buy looking through systems for child porn a few years ago, I thought how horrible for them to do that. Then I gave it more thought and figured they did it to cover themselves in case someone who has it on his system and gets nailed would claim it was actually a tech at Best Buy who put it there during the repair. I know there would be other evidence countering that, but it would be a major headache nonetheless for Best Buy. Of course, throwing the FBI in the mix makes it a complete mess.
I would buy a new computer before I would let any stranger mess with my computer.
But FU, Best Lie, you will never get another penny from me.
It’s hard to believe that ANYONE on this site would let the Geek Squad lay a hand on their computers. If the thing breaks, buy a new one and destroy the hard drive.
Would Eugene do that?
Evgeny Kaspersky 
Actually, better he than Best Buy!
What FBI knows can get you indicted. What KGB knows is what KGB knows (unless you have a high clearance that KGB knows about — then you are well and truly F-ed).
I read that Sessions is seriouslyconsidering a second Special Council. Really? He is serious? I bet that has Hitlery shaking in her high heels....not. Most smart people stopped taking Session seriously a long time ago. I do not trust him for a second. It is just fodder to feed us common folk. If he really was serious he would have just did it and not threaten to do it. The man is a weasel and a snake.
The same FIB that didn’t want to examine Hillary’s server or the DNC’s allegedly hacked system.
Innocent pictures of your own young kids in the bath etc have been deemed kiddie porn.
Keep your backups up to date and NEVER give your storage hard drive to anyone. If the unit goes in for repair then pull the hard drive. They are cheaper than being deemed a pornographer - which will ruin you life. If you cannot pull the hard drive/storage device scrap the unit with gunfire. If you are tech savvy enough to wipe the device do it, in spades. Oh and the above goes for units passing out of your control.
So the FBI unconstitionally violates the privacy of unwitting private citizens and uses “false and misleading statements” to obtain a warrant. Do I detect a pattern here?
According to Hannity, the FBI did want to investigate the DNC hack but the DNC refused access to their computers?
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