FBI + Geek Squad = Illegal Search

When I was a self-employed computer repair professional, it used to drive me mad when I got called in on a repair AFTER the customer had taken the computer to the Geek Squad.  Their service could be highly variable, and often the original problem was not fixed.

The Geek Squad started as a great little local IT shop founded in Minneapolis by Robert Stephens, but after it was acquired by Best Buy, the predictable happened, and quality of service declined, and was replaced by up-selling software and services the customer could live without.

We have found out that between 2007 and 2012, the FBI recruited eight paid informants at the Geek Squad City computer repair site in Kentucky. Several employees received $500 or $1,000 payments from the FBI.  They have been used to look for hidden child pornography files.  This is a pretty flagrant violation of the Fourth Amendment that is supposed to protect us from illegal searches.  Don’t get me wrong, if I am working on your computer, and I find child porn, the police will be called.  But I am not being paid to do that work by the FBI as paid informant.

If this was the only instance where law enforcement has been stepping over the line.  Their continual yammering about encryption and back doors is another example.

The EFF is suing the FBI over this issue, and the case is in court.  Things are not going well for the FBI.  Things cannot be going well for the Geek Squad either.  Next time you need your computer fixed take it somewhere they are not going to spy on you.

Defense attorneys for accused child pornographer Mark Rettenmaier want this evidence thrown out in his case.  If this evidence turns out to be inadmissible, then Rettenmaier goes free.

I understand that catching criminals is difficult, but when we see law enforcement breaking the law themselves, it calls the entire system into question.  When we become as evil as those we are fighting, there are no more good guys.  Just bad guys, and bad guys with badges.

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About the Author:

Cybersecurity guru to business owners in the St Paul, Minneapolis, and western Wisconsin area. Computer security and hacking have been a passion of mine since I entered the computer and networking business in 2000. In 2013 I completed a course of study and certification exam to become a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). In 2016 I was certified as a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). As Cybersecurity Analyst at The WyzCo Group, I help our clients experience high levels of computer security, network security, and web site security. In addition to consulting on security products and services, we also conduct security audits, vulnerability assessments and full penetration tests. We also provide Cybersecurity Awareness Training for clients and their employees. We also work with companies and organizations that need to certify compliance with regulations such as PCI-DSS (credit card processing), HIPAA/HITECH (medical records), and GLBA. The views expressed on this Web site are mine alone and do not necessarily represent the views of my employer.

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