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El Paisano

Geek Squad Working Closely with FBI

The+relationship+between+the+Geek+Squad+and+FBI+has+already+led+to+the+arrest+of+one+man+last+January.
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Geek Squad Working Closely with FBI

The relationship between the Geek Squad and FBI has already led to the arrest of one man last January.

The relationship between the Geek Squad and FBI has already led to the arrest of one man last January.

Edit by Jake Laurell/El Paisano News

The relationship between the Geek Squad and FBI has already led to the arrest of one man last January.

Edit by Jake Laurell/El Paisano News

Edit by Jake Laurell/El Paisano News

The relationship between the Geek Squad and FBI has already led to the arrest of one man last January.

Ramon Alvarado, Editor-in-Chief

The FBI has been working closely with Best Buy’s computer repair service, Geek Squad over the last decade. In an investigation launched by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a digital Civil right group, it was discovered that Geek Squad employees have been playing the role of informants for the FBI.

Documents found by the EFF show that the Geek Squad had an entire process to follow if illegal material was found on computers that were brought in for repairs.

If illegal content was believed to be found, the device would be sent to the FBI’s Louisville office where it would be reviewed. If the material found was indeed illegal, the device would be sent to an FBI office closer to the owner of the device and it would be investigated further.

Reports from the EFF show that the FBI classified Geek Squad employees as “CHS,” or confidential human sources.

In January 2017, California Doctor Mark Rettenmaier was arrested for child pornography after a helpful tip from the Geek Squad was made. Rettenmaier had his device sent to Kentucky for repairs when pornographic images of a child were found.

The EFF believes Geek Squad employees may be hunting for illegal material, rather than just stumbling upon it.

Pornographic images found on Rettenmaier’s computer were found in an “unallocated space, which typically requires forensic software to find,” according to the EFF.

In a statement issued by a Best Buy spokesperson, it has been confirmed that at least four Geek Squad employees have received payments from the FBI, with one totalling $500. Paying Geek Squad employees for finding illegal material can be troubling.

If the FBI continues to reward Geek Squad employees for helpful tips, the Geeks may begin to hunt for illegal material on devices they are meant to fix. EEF has stated that the Geek Squad and FBI could already be violating people’s Fourth Amendment rights, which protects from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Geek Squad employees have been in legal trouble in the past. Workers have been caught sharing pornography found on customer devices with themselves. The computer repair group has also had employees accused of finding customers’ nude images and posting them online.

In a statement released by the EFF, the digital civil rights group says it “plans to challenge the FBI’s stonewalling in court later this spring.”

It’ll be interesting to see if anything new between the FBI and Geek Squad comes to light. It’ll be even more interesting to see if any punishments are made.

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Geek Squad Working Closely with FBI