Is the Geek Squad Spying for the FBI?

Computers, Police, Surveillance

EFF is suing the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act to obtain information on how it recruits Best Buy Geek Squad employees to report on illegal contents of devices they take in. This interest originates from a federal case in California, where Best Buy confirmed that members of its Geek Squad in Kentucky received compensation for reporting on customers who possessed child pornography on their devices. If the FBI is recruiting private industry employees to spy on personal computers, EFF argues, it constitutes an unlawful government search in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Relying on private vendors represents a means of accessing hidden data without the requirement to file a warrant, thus circumventing traditional protections for privacy. Best Buy has stated that the employees’ decision to accept payment goes against its policies. However, when you drop a device off at Geek Squad, you sign a document acknowledging that Best Buy will turn over devices containing child pornography to the FBI. Employees cannot search for such material; they instead must come across it while conducting the customer-requested service. Court documents from the California case demonstrate suspiciously close ties with the Geek Squad, referring to the employees as “sources.” It will be interesting to see what documents EFF’s FOIA suit uncovers regarding the cozy relationship between the FBI and private industry.

Source: SF Chronicle

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