Geek Squad employees allegedly paid by the FBI to find child por - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Geek Squad employees allegedly paid by the FBI to find child porn

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New court papers claim Best Buy Geek Squad employees were paid by the FBI to find and report child porn on computers. New court papers claim Best Buy Geek Squad employees were paid by the FBI to find and report child porn on computers.
New court papers claim Best Buy Geek Squad employees were paid by the FBI to find and report child porn on computers. New court papers claim Best Buy Geek Squad employees were paid by the FBI to find and report child porn on computers.
A Geek Squad tech works on a laptop. A Geek Squad tech works on a laptop.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - New court documents claim Best Buy employees in Bullitt County were actually working for the government.

The federal case claims the FBI was paying Geek Squad employees at Best Buy's Brooks, Kentucky facility to be confidential informants – raising some big questions about your privacy rights.

When you drop your computer off for repairs some say you're giving the technician access to all of your personal information. 

"You're essentially handing over your life to them to do with what they want,” Attorney Mark Wettle said.

A California doctor named Mark Rettenmaier took his computer into a Best Buy location in California because it wouldn't turn on. The broken computer ended up at the Best Buy Geek Squad Facility in Brooks because that's where the company sends computers and hard drives for repair. The repair technician found evidence of child porn and reported it to the Louisville office of the FBI. The FBI used that evidence to build a case against him. 

"Child pornography by itself is illegal contraband, the possession alone is illegal," Michael Losavio, an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Louisville, said. "So they're obligated to inform the authorities of what they've found." Losavio is also a cyber-crime expert. 

Best Buy issued this statement:

“Best Buy and Geek Squad have no relationship with the FBI. From time to time, our repair agents discover material that may be child pornography and we have a legal and moral obligation to turn that material over to law enforcement.  We are proud of our policy and share it with our customers before we begin any repair.  

Any circumstance in which an employee received payment from the FBI is the result of extremely poor individual judgment, is not something we tolerate and is certainly not a part of our normal business behavior. 

To be clear, our agents unintentionally find child pornography as they try to make the repairs the customer is paying for. They are not looking for it. Our policies prohibit agents from doing anything other than what is necessary to solve the customer’s problem so that we can maintain their privacy and keep up with the volume of repairs. “ – Paula Baldwin, Best Buy Spokesperson


However, the court documents say eight technicians in the Brooks facility received payment from the FBI from 2008-2012. One employee said he contacted the FBI reporting child pornography approximately six to nine times per year. 

"Then they would be considered paid agents of the government,” Wettle said. “Are they working for Geek Squad or are they working for the government is the question." 

So if a customer turns over a computer, does that person give up privacy rights and constitutional protection from unreasonable searches?

"If they're conducting a search without a warrant then the fourth amendment is implicated,” Wettle said 

A federal judge will allow the doctor's attorneys to question the Geek Squad technicians and the FBI agents involved in the case at a hearing Wednesday in California.

"You have to establish the nature of the relationship between the geek squad folks and the federal government,” Losavio said. 

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