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FBI Has Been Paying Geek Squad To Spy On Customers For Over A Decade

For over a decade, the FBI had been paying employees of Best Buy’s Geek Squad to pass on information about illegal materials on customer devices sent in for repair, according to records obtained through the Freedom of Information lawsuit filed last year.

At no point did the FBI get warrants based on probable cause before Geek Squad informants conducted these searches. Nor are these cases the result of Best Buy employees happening across potential illegal content on a device and alerting authorities. –EFF.org

Records posted Tuesday by the Electronic Frontier Foundation reveal that federal agents from the FBI’s Louisville division had been paying Geek Squad informants for information that might kick off investigations related to their “Computer Intrusion and Cyber Crime” program, according to the documents.

The documents released to EFF show that Best Buy officials have enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the agency for at least 10 years. For example, an FBI memo from September 2008 details how Best Buy hosted a meeting of the agency’s “Cyber Working Group” at the company’s Kentucky repair facility.

The memo and a related email show that Geek Squad employees also gave FBI officials a tour of the facility before their meeting and makes clear that the law enforcement agency’s Louisville Division “has 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.” –EFF

Another document details a $500 payment from the FBI to a Geek Squad informant, which appears to be directly related to the FBI’s prosecution of California doctor Mark Rettenmaier, who was charged with possession of child pornography after Best Buy sent his computer to a repair facility in Kentucky.

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