Local —A child pornography case
against a California doctor has revealed that Geek Squad technicians
have worked with the FBI to uncover data on customer’s computers for
years. One non-profit is now saying that the nature of the FBI’s
relationship with the techs may have violated the U.S. Constitution.
rights non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit last year after it was
discovered that the FBI allegedly paid Geek Squad employees to go
through their client’s computers while they’re being repaired.
such search led to felony child porn charges against Dr. Mark
Rettenmaier after a technician reportedly went through
the oncologist’s deleted files and called the FBI in 2011. In
2017, a judge ruled that the images found in Dr. Rettenmaier’s
computer could not be considered child porn and the invasive search
was illegal. All charges were dropped and thecase
was dismissedafter Judge Cormac Carney
said an FBI agent made “false and misleading statements” to obtain a
search warrant for the doctor’s house.
saystheir FOIA request discovered that Geek
Squad’s parent company, Best Buy, has been working with the FBI for
at least 10 years. A memo acquired in the lawsuit shows that Best
Buy hosted a meeting and tour of their Kentucky repair facility for
the FBI’s “Cyber Working Group” in 2008. The memo also admitted that
agents “maintained close liaison with the Geek Squad’s management in
an effort to glean case initiations and to support the division’s
Computer Intrusion and Cyber Crime programs.”
court records uncovered in the FOIA search found that Geek Squad
paidbetween $500 and $1,000 to actively
search a client’s computer. Like the ruling in
Dr. Rettenmaier’s case, the reports have raised concerns that
the FBI is using Geek Squad to bypass the Fourth Amendment which
prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.
Best Buy spokesperson denied the claims in 2017. Jeff Shelman said
their techs don’t do “anything other than what is necessary to solve
the customer’s problem,” according toThe
Washington Post. The spokesperson added that if illegal
material is found during those repairs, Geek Squad is obligated to
contact law enforcement.