Documents Reveal Best Buy’s Geek Squad Used as Informants by The FBI

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Best Buy’s Geek Squad is snitching.

If you have been using the aforementioned computer and device repair personnel to fix your computer, you might want to check if you’ve been storing illegal stuff on your computer.

As reported by the Huffington Post, Geek Squad employees have been used by FBI agents, as informants for more than a decade now; according to a newly released document that shows the working relationship between the two.

Although it’s not uncommon for computer repair technicians to report illegal materials to law enforcements, the released documents showed that the FBI and the Geek Squad have been working together since 2008 and has been viewed as paid informants.

According to the International Business Times, the documents were released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF – a non-profit digital rights organization. Sources reported that the document exposes the connection between the bureau and Best Buy was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that was filed last year, when the FBI denied the request for the records regarding its relationship with the computer repair agency.

The Geek Squad’s relationship with the FBI started with the bureau’s Louisville division, and the squad’s employees located at Brooks, Kentucky.

In the document, the FBI was revealed to have paid $500 to one Geek Squad’s employee for information regarding a man from California, who was charged for having child abuse images on his computer.

Moreover, the files further showed that the FBI maintained a close relationship with the Geek Squad management, which worked to support the bureau’s Computer Intrusion and Cyber Crime programs.

According to the documents, “The FBI agent would show up, review the images or video and determine whether they believe they are illegal content. After that, they would seize the hard drive or computer and send it to another FBI field office near where the owner of the device lived.”

The working relationship between the two is under hot water, as there are questions to the legality of how the said information has been procured.

However, the FBI has yet to provide an official statement regarding the matter, but Best Buy has said the following:

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.”

Photo Credit: Mike Mozart via Flickr

Roemart Tamayo

Roemart Tamayo Roemart is a writer by default because he writes for a living, but he also writes in his pastime. View my other posts