So, Best Buy’s Geek Squad Are Basically Snitches for the FBI, by Kevin Gosztola

If you’ve got anything incriminating on your hard disk and its broken, don’t take it to Best Buy’s Geek Squad to get it fixed. From Kevin Gosztola at

Throughout the past ten years, the FBI has at varying points in time maintained a particularly close relationship with Best Buy officials and used the company’s Geek Squad employees as informants. But the FBI refuses to confirm or deny key information about how the agency may potentially circumvent computer owners’ Fourth Amendment rights.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) obtained a handful of documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed in February of last year. EFF says they show the relationship between the FBI and Geek Squad employees is much “cozier” than they thought.

Nevertheless, the documents released were previously highlighted in a Washington Post report in April 2017. They were covered in the context of a child pornography case brought against a doctor named Mark Rettenmaier, and revelations led EFF to file a FOIA request for records.

The defense called attention in court filings to cooperation between the Louisville Division of the FBI and the Geek Squad as it tried to convince a judge to suppress evidence found on Rettenmaier’s hard drive. Attorneys referenced a memo on a “Cyber Working Group” meeting held at the Brooks, Kentucky, repair facility on September 9, 2008, which EFF obtained.

“The Louisville Division [of the FBI] has maintained close liaison with the Geek Squad management in an effort to glean case initiations and to support the division’s computer intrusion and cyber crime programs,” the memo states.

The memo acknowledges how the facility is “the principal repair location for all Best Buy computers east of the Rocky Mountains.”

“Computers taken to local Best Buy retail outlets west of the Rocky Mountains are sent to a repair facility in Chino, California. The Brooks facility is Best Buy’s largest facility, and it handles approximately five times the repair and recovery work than the Chino facility.” The facility “repairs and conducts data recovery on thousands of computers every day.”

In court filings, the defense mentioned there were “eight FBI informants at Geek Squad City” from 2007 to 2012. Multiple employees received payments ranging from $500-1000 for work as informants.

To continue reading: So, Best Buy’s Geek Squad Are Basically Snitches for the FBI


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