Best Buy’s Geek Squad might not be the benevolent repairmen we once thought.
Geek Squad computer repairmen have reportedly been working with the FBI for at least a decade, according to documents acquired by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The FBI paid Geek Squad employees to flag and disclose illegal content found on the computers they repaired, particularly child pornography.
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According to the EFF’s account, if a member of the Geek Squad finds potentially illegal content on a computer they are inspecting, they contact the FBI. The agents then review the content and seize the computer for further inspection if it appears to be illegal in nature. In at least one such instance, the FBI reportedly paid the Geek Squad employee $500 for turning over the material and proceeded to use him as an informant.
After a California doctor was prosecuted for child abuse imagery that was found on his computer by a Geek Squad employee, the EFF filed a Freedom of Information request to better understand the nature of Best Buy employees’ relationship with the FBI. The results suggest that it “circumvents computer owners’ Fourth Amendment rights.”
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Best Buy has contended, however, that the company has a moral, and in some cases, legal, obligation to “report these findings to law enforcement,” as they are helping “discover and thwart illegal, abusive behavior,” reports Buzzfeed. The retailer further stated that it does not actively seek out such illegal material, and its employees have not received training from law enforcement to learn how to find it.