Not a clue
No one dropping off their computer at their local Best Buy’s probably ever thought the FBI had a presence there.
However, a case in California revealed that the Feds and some Geek Squad members have a closer relationship than you think.
It all started last year when a man was found in possession of child pornography on his computer. Best Buy Geek Squad members had uncovered the illegal material and informed the FBI. Though there is no dispute of this man’s wrongdoings, his lawyers are arguing that the case be thrown out after discovering that the FBI paid these Geeks as if they were working as informants.
By accepting payment, these employees became government agents who searched devices without obtaining warrants.
In essence, they violated the man’s fourth amendment rights without even knowing it.
It’s all been done
This isn’t a new procedure for the FBI. In fact, one Best Buy employee reported that he tried to refuse payment from them in the past.
At the time the company claimed it is “not something that they tolerate,” although it continued to occur.
In January, documents were released that contained sworn statements proving that the FBI paid Best Buy employees who uncovered “unlawful material.”
After the FBI refused their request to acquire documents implementing this type of behavior, the EFF, a digital rights advocacy group, is suing the Justice Department. However, they are not limiting the request to Best Buy stores only. “The public has a right to know how the FBI uses computer technicians to carry out searches the agents themselves cannot do without a warrant,” claims EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel.
Regardless of the illegal material recovered, people have a certain right to privacy.
Sobel continues to argue that “people authorize Best Buy employees to fix their computers, not conduct unconstitutional searches on the FBI’s behalf.” Perhaps Best Buy Geek Squad employees felt they did not have a choice in the matter. Perhaps they thought of it as a reward for their civic duty. Either way, if getting your computer repaired means also handing it off to be extensively searched, then that must be made explicitly clear.