Skip to comments.Justice Department Sued for Records on FBI Training of Best Buy Geek Squad Spies
Posted on 06/01/2017 9:53:54 AM PDT by bamahead
The Justice Department was sued Wednesday by a privacy group seeking information on the FBI recruitment of Best Buy employees to search consumer computers for child pornography during repairs a practice that came to light in court documents in a recent case in Santa Ana, California.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Trump administrations Justice Department, demanding access to records about any FBI training and payment to Geek Squad workers to search customer computers without a court warrant.
At issue isnt the criminality of child pornography or efforts to stop the exploitation of children by sexual predators. EFF is concerned that the FBI may be violating the constitutional requirement that law enforcement agencies obtain judge-approved search warrants, based on evidence there is probable cause of a crime, to search computers.
Informants who are trained, directed, and paid by the FBI to conduct searches for the agency are acting as government agents, EFF civil liberties director David Greene said in a written statement. The FBI cannot bypass the Constitutions warrant requirement by having its informants search peoples computers at its direction and command.
The San Francisco-based nonprofit privacy group sued the Justice Department after it refused a request for documents about how the FBI recruits, trains and pays Best Buy workers to find illegal child pornography on customer computers sent to Best Buy for repairs.
The public has a right to know how the FBI uses computer repair technicians to carry out searches the agents themselves cannot do without a warrant, EFF senior counsel David Sobel said in a statement. People authorize Best Buy employees to fix their computers, not conduct unconstitutional searches on the FBIs behalf.
The FBI refused to provide records to EFF based on the agencys policy of not confirming or denying ongoing investigations.
But court documents in federal court in Santa Ana, California, argue that the FBI has launched a program of training and paying Geek Squad employees to look for child pornography on customer computers sent in for repairs, and to report the porn to authorities.
The OC Weekly first reported in March that court documents revealed an extensive secret relationship . . . between the FBI and Best Buys Geek Squad, including evidence the agency trained company technicians on law-enforcement operational tactics, shared lists of targeted citizens and, to covertly increase surveillance of the public, encouraged searches of computers even when unrelated to a customers request for repairs.
The relationship between the FBI and Best Buy came to light in the criminal case of U.S. v. Rettenmaier.
Dr. Mark Rettenmaier, a Newport Beach, California obstetrics and gynecology specialist, is charged with knowingly possessing child pornography after Geek Squad employees reported to authorities that they allegedly found an illicit image during repairs of his computer in 2011. The criminal case was delayed after Rettenmair challenged the search of his computer and his home.
Rettenmaiers lawyers argue that sealed government documents reveal the FBI trained and paid Geek Squad employees, turning them into FBI agents, and therefore would have required a search warrant before Geek Squad employees could search the doctors computer, according court documents cited by the Washington Post. Best Buy admits that some employees were paid by the FBI.
Prosecutors disagree, noting that authorities obtained a search warrant for the doctors computer and home after Best Buy employees reported alleged evidence of child pornography to authorities. The warrant-enabled search led to the discovery of thousands of images of child pornography, according to a brief by assistant U.S. attorneys Anthony Brown and Gregory Scally.
The Fourth Amendment is offended by none of this, federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing. Nothing unreasonable occurred here, and there was no arbitrary invasion of anyones privacy by governmental officials
and theres not a shred of evidence that anyone at the FBI directed anyone at Geek Squad City to detect and locate child pornography.
But what happens if they expand this 'training' to look at your digital music + movie files, personal pictures, or other content for violations of the DMCA, or whatever charge they feel like shopping for?
Child porn is one thing but you can bet they’re sending everything to the feds. Need a computer repair? Do it yourself or use it for target practice and buy a new one. Even so, “they” will be snooping on your every click.
Here’s a big Howdy! to the guy behind the screen. Long time no wave but haven’t forgotten about you.
The dirty secret is, Best Buy will go through anybody’s files whether they need to or not. Common practice for these “geeks” to swipe pictures, videos, and music.
If you use Best Buy to work on your equipment expect NO PRIVACY whatsoever.
Notice how their suing the “Trump Justice Department”?
Please show me the directive given by the Trump Admiration to the Justice Department to start this program within a month of him being sworn in and without a sitting AG?
I don’t know why Sessions doesn’t release all of the these documents immediately for all of these lawsuits against the DOJ. This would show that all of these actions were either directed by Obama Administration officials, or undertaken without proper authorization, or started by a prior administration.
I get spam, like maybe 5 a day. I never open it but the titles are similar to “Teens with bigco..” Sexy neighbor is hot for you or Cougars seeking yada yada yada, They send them to me with two words connected as one so I can’t block. All of it goes to spam. Should I be worried? Should I just change my e-mail? Even if I change will this crap still be sent to me? What to do?
Yep, the dude behind the screen is still here. Froze me out for 10 minutes.
I use an email client which is entirely online. If I want something to be downloaded onto the hard drive I have to do that manually.
I don’t do it much because my little tablet doesn’t have much memory.
Change it hushmail.com
How legal is it for the FBI to use U.S. citizens to search for this stuff? Whatever happened to the chain of evidence? Whose to say one of those Geek Squad spies didn’t put it there just to look lke a hero?
According to the article: "The relationship between the FBI and Best Buy came to light in the criminal case of U.S. v. Rettenmaier." Also: "Dr. Mark Rettenmaier, a Newport Beach, California obstetrics and gynecology specialist, is charged with knowingly possessing child pornography after Geek Squad employees reported to authorities that they allegedly found an illicit image during repairs of his computer in 2011."
They can try to claim it started under President Trump, but as usual, they would be liars. I wonder when this actually started. Probably once Bambi got in office. He should be known as The Snooping President.
My friend worked at Best Buy before Obama took office, this was going on before 2009.
Best Buy geeks also push the Russian Virus software called Kaspersky...
And I would also expect that somebody in the Geek Squad probably has some kind of confidentiality agreement with their employer, to avoid having any corporate liability if stuff started showing up in unintended hands. Besides, getting paid by another party would be moonlighting. Wouldn't Best Buy want some kind of relief from lawsuits in this situation? (Unless, of course, Best Buy was in on it.)
Around 2000-2001 I got a lot of sexusal and non-sexual spam. Now my spam is almost all right wing and left wing political appeals for money.
I have a long standing policy that politics gets my time, but not my money. I just got an email from my County GOP that I can’t be a Republican, and certainly not part of the County GOP unless I send their private club money. Even if my policy were to do money in politics, I’m not sure I would send it to the buffoons that run my county organization.
Terror, error, tomato, tomahto.
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