Skip to comments.Best Buy's Geek Squad Finds Child Porn on Janitor's Computer, Janitor Arrested
Posted on 01/17/2008 6:03:54 PM PST by Teflonic
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What if the janitor had hundreds of mp3’s on his computer that he downloaded from a file sharing site and the Geek Squad alerted the Recording Industry of America?
If I was the Recording Industry, I’d be paying a bounty to the Geek Squad for every tip. I bet it’s happening.
That’s if you convince the authorities that someone stole your identity. If you don’t manage to clear your name, your future pay or benefit checks could be docked for whatever was charged to you for the next several decades.
I should add that while I am not a lawyer, I am The InfoSec officer for my organization and by handing them his hard drive and asking them to recover the data he effectively gave them permission to look at every single bit of data on the drive.
On a technical level, regardless of whether one is using a software package designed for this purpose or if one is doing it by manually reconstructing the files, the tech would either be looking at the bits that make up the data or their software program is looking at the bits that make up the data and determing what bits are parts of which files, then putting the bits back together to recreate the files. Of course, that's looking at the ones and zeros, but you're viewing the data as a part of recovering it.
In order to discover it was child porn they would have to physically open a file; it’s not like you can look at the file’s bits in a hex parser and determine that an image is in fact porn.
As for the other analogy, if your financial records were on the drive they would have no reason to open the files unless they were snooping around.
As for the “cocaine/porn in your trunk”, the analogy is flawed. The violating item is in plain sight in your trunk. The proper analogy to put this in perspective is that the item is in your glove compartment, the mechanic is fixing the tail light, but goes and opens the glove compartment to see what’s inside.
I would have a number of questions not only for the mechanic but for the owner of the business in this situation, and as such would have a number of questions for any person who effectively opened the glove compartment on my drive.
“we’re pretty sure unconstitutional”
No... actually it’s not. No state action.
How do you know if data was recovered with out testing. The drive was sent in for data recovery. When I recover drives I will open a few files of different types to see if they open. If there are files you need to be kept private it should be disclosed before the drive is turned in to the the tech. You can encrypt files so the can’t be viewed on other computer.
“sent in a hard drive back in August of 2007 to recover lost data.”
So what was Best Buy supposed to do? Recover the data with their eyes closed?
Unconstitutional? How could it be?
Let’s forget for just a moment that the constitution is a document that specifically spells out the responsibilities and limitations of government, not private individuals.
Instead, let’s focus on the facts of the case... the man gave the damned harddrive to someone to work on, and he’s shocked when that technician stumbles across that filth? Even if it wasn’t a private individual working on the HDD, if the rocket scientist turned janitor had turned his disk over to a law enforcement officer who had promised to recover the lost data, the child porn would STILL be admissible in court.
Plain sight during lawful activities? No reasonable expectation of privacy? The fact that a non-coerced private search is generally not subject to either the fourth amendment or the exclusionary rule?
I'm pretty sure Mr. Terrence O'Brien has not the slightest clue of what the Constitution is about. Hint: the 4th Amendment doesn't apply to Best Buy's Geeks, because they're not part of the government.
Did a google news search on this story and this is the only mention of it. One of the reasons I posted this was in hopes of it being picked up by a larger news outlet willing to give the name of the janitor and what school he worked at. There’s a good bet at least some of those pictures were of students at the school he worked at. Is the school covering this up?
Nothing worse than handing one of the execs a USB drive with their recovered files on it and telling them their data is on it only to have them call down 10 minutes later irate because all they get are errors when they try to open it.
I surmise that you've never used the "thumbnail" feature on your computer's file manager.
Disturbing, yes. Unconstitutional? No. They are not the government and the guy willingly gave them access to the drive.
I fix alot of computers... and I make it a point not to look into peoples files... there are things I don’t want to know. A smart person will know how to encrypt their private files, most will not. As much as I want this guy to fry - I have a problem with a bunch of GEEKS snooping in his stuff, and playing gotcha.
Sounds like a plumber coming over your house and looking your drawers.
I still don’t think you have any expectation of privacy when you willingly give the information to someone else.
I really haven’t figured Internet porn. How can so much obviously illegal (Kiddie porn and beastiality etc) stuff be out there and not actively investigated. And, if there is so much free stuff out there, how is anyone making any money. I saw an interview with Larry Flynt in the mid 90’s who said the internet would ruin the magazine business because there is so much free stuff that no one would pay for it.
And pedophiles, let me give you a hint. If you are on line and she (or he) seems interested in a 50 year old, 300 pound loser still living with his parents- your chatting with a cop.
There is an important difference. An employee working for a firm has no right to privacy with respect to the data on his work computer, which belongs to his employer. In contrast, once a customer pays for a service such as data recovery on his personal computer, there is a contract between the service provider and the customer, and the service provider can be held liable if its employees misappropriate and use confidential data for personal benefit.
What these guys did was little different from what happens when a thief runs across a rape in progress while looting a warehouse. It's laudable that he reported it, but looting warehouses is still illegal.
Good post. Thanks.
How do you do a retrieval without somebody going through your stuff? My last computer died. I don’t have porn, but I do have my on-computer journal. I don’t especially want anybody reading that.
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