I am not a fan of Best Buy, nor am I a hater, but more of a “paper cut on my tongue” kind of love. I am never sure they work on commission, and every time I need some help, they are all gone, but when I am just shopping, they won’t leave me alone. This article raises many more questions and fears, I suspect it is not the last we will hear of this.
The FBI paid Best Buy Geek Squad employees as informants, rewarding them for flagging indecent material when people brought their computers in for repair. This is generally a moral obligation for any computer repair tech to do, but usually resulting in contacting local authorities, The FBI seems like overkill, at least a waste of tax payer’s money for sure. According to documents released to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties organization, which filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking records that might show warrantless searches of people’s devices.
The EFF filed its complaint last year after revelations about the FBI’s interactions with Geek Squad technicians came to light in the case of Mark Rettenmaier, an Orange County, Calif., physician and surgeon who took his computer in for repair when it wouldn’t boot up. Rettenmaier faced child pornography charges after a Geek Squad employee flagged his PC.
In May, a federal judge threw out almost all the evidence (which prosecutors said included hundreds of images of child pornography) because of “false and misleading statements” an FBI agent made in an affidavit to get a search warrant for Rettenmaier’s house. All charges against him have been dropped.
The EFF shed a bit more light on the relationship between Best Buy and the FBI. The documents showed a range of interactions: a $500 payment from the FBI to a Geek Squad employee, a meeting of the agency’s Cyber Working Group at Best Buy’s computer repair facility in Kentucky, and a number of investigations in which Geek Squad employees called the FBI field office in Louisville after finding suspected child pornography. Why not just the local Police? These are Best Buy employees, not FBI Agents, snooping around inside someone’s PC to “Look” or to recover deleted data, clearly is not standard protocol, nor a part of any repair service, including a dead hard drive. Again, I am not defending the doctor, but protesting the way our government is allowed to behave. Who arranged this? Why Best Buy? Why un-trained employees, and not Federal Agents? What other states are doing this?
The question I have is whether Best Buy employees “go fishing” in customers’ devices with the goal of helping the FBI, or the cash? Is Best Buy’s image is now tarnished, or at best dulled? Also does this shed light on why it takes so long to repair your PC at Best Buy? I try to have it back to you the same day if you come in early; the most is a few days to repair anything.
Thanks for reading, and keep your PC secure and your family safer.
Remember at “Hunt Technology”, you always get “Quality Service & Individual Attention” you deserve. Hunt Technology, 320 Watson St., Ripon WI, 920-290-0936