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Does Best Buy’s Geek Squad have secret ties to the FBI?

Did you know that Geek Squad employees are called “agents” and they have special position titles, such as Counter Intelligence Agent (CIA)? They even carry badges that resemble those of law enforcement officers.

Maybe these similarities used to be just a fun theme that was a part of their brand. But now federal courts are claiming that there really is a relationship between Geek Squad and the FBI. Some employees may be working as double agents – fixing customers’ computers and searching for evidence of child pornography.

Court documents claim that the FBI has trained and paid some Geek Squad employees to search for photos of child abuse on the electronics they were hired to fix. Geek Squad agents were even searching the part of the hard drive where you would recover deleted files.

Back in 2011, a Geek Squad agent found a photo of a young girl on a man’s computer in the file recovery area. He was subsequently charged with two counts of child pornography possession. Right before he was indicted, a federal judge for another case ruled that files found in this area can’t be used as evidence of possession because there’s no way to know who downloaded/uploaded the images, who viewed them and why or when they were deleted.

The Geek Squad agent who told the FBI about the photo denied receiving payment. But he had been paid for another task a few months prior.

These tactics raise a lot of questions. The man’s defense attorney argued that if Geek Squad and the FBI are working this closely then Best Buy could be considered a branch of the government. As a branch of the government, they need a warrant and probable cause to search through customers’ digital files. Of course, whatever they find without a warrant cannot be used as evidence.

Best Buy recently issued a statement to the Washington Post explaining that there is no relationship between them and the FBI: “Any circumstances 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.”

However, Best Buy said that if they do find child abuse photos then it is their moral and legal obligation to report it. They said that portion of their policy is shared with customers before they begin repairs.

On the other hand, the court documents claim that Best Buy management was aware of this partnership. It stated that the FBI was helping Best Buy develop a system for finding abusive content. It also said that the FBI paid several employees $500 or $1,000 for completing tasks.

What do you think? Is this a gross violation of our Fourth Amendment rights? Will you now be concerned with privacy when you hire repairmen to fix your electronics? Or do you believe that this is a necessary service that helps put pedophiles and child pornographers in jail? Let us know in the comments section below.

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