Geek Squad's secret spying on behalf of the FBI went on for a decade and involved constant, ongoing collaboration


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/06/govt-squad.html


#2

Not long ago I asked a Best Buy salesdrone why I should trust them if my phone needs service. They asked why I shouldn’t. At some point people forgot that trust is earned, not bought.


#3

Tech finding child porn or other equally awful stuff while fixing a computer… well that happens and they have standing orders to report it.

The FBI offering rewards for it… not sure I like that.


#4

Do you have something to hide citizen? /s


#5

Agreed, if you happen on evidence of criminal activity you have an obligation to report it.

That’s why neoconservatives and other authoritarians hate the 4th amendment. Due process is so boring. Easier to pay the cable technician to rifle through houses until they find something incriminating. Modern US law enforcement is disturbingly logical when you realize it’s one big end-run around the 4th.


#6

Normally, I have no issue with tech reporting CP to the authorities when they find it. But BB taking money from the FBI surely makes them Govt employees, and subject to the restrictions of the 4th? Or am I just being a naive European?


#7

Not if it is a Bounty/Reward offered to anyone… it is basically an incentive for the techs to search the data of your pc even if the drive isn’t the problem. That is the issue and could lead to someone planting evidence just for the money.


#8

Wouldn’t make GS paid police informants?


#9

So the Geek Squad were literally acting as paid agents of federal law enforcement? Man, they really took that “Chuck” tie-in a little too far.

Seriously though, this is appalling. Every customer becomes a potential bounty, and false evidence becomes a very real possibility when it comes to paid informants.


#10

From a distance that’s what you’d hope for and expect – the 4th is law, shouldn’t law enforcement respect that? – but in practice it’s more what @GulliverFoyle said:


#11

Pretty much… Not that I would to to GS for any reason already. Also I wonder if this bounty program applies to other places like say Office Depot, etc.


#12

Finding it in unallocated space isn’t unusual considering data recovery was being performed on the disk, and that kind of thing has to be reported. Now, how it got there is a good question. It could have been unintentional: someone decided to troll him by sending it to him unsolicited, and he deleted it… but considering it took three years to indict him, chances are they were watching after this and found more bad stuff.

Data at rest encryption, folks. If it’s done right, deleted files can’t be recovered as every file has its own key which is destroyed upon deallocation. Not sure if BitLocker or LUKS does it that way but APFS does.


#13

Some BB sales people have no problem lying to make a sale. This from my last encounter at BB (Westminster, CA) about purely simple technical specs on a Samsung Chromebook model.


#14

There’s been enough news stories about customer’s private data getting sold or put on the internet by GS techs that I had no intention of having them service anything of mine. I just thought it was amazing that he expected me to accept that the default position should be to trust a corporation or its bored underpaid unsupervised workers.


#15

There is more to be concerned about than illegal porn when dropping your computer off at Best Buy. Many people do on line banking and keep personal records on their computer. Do consider that you should back everything up and never trust anyone to do any sort of data recovery on your personal computer.I generally encrypt all personal information and do a history and data wipe every time I walk away from my computer.


#16

A moral obligation, not a legal one, right?


#17

The legal obligation depends on the crime and the state…

Morally, I’d absolutely report a child pornographer. I’m sure a shit not going to snitch on someone for drug possession. So it depends entirely on what crime I’ve found evidence of. But that’s my moral compass, which no one else is obligated to share.


#18

And Fourth Amendment cases never find a sympathetic jury. The problem there, of course, is that the victim is guilty. The fact that the government had to break the rules to prove it is secondary.


#19

Or so it appears based on evidence obtained without the protections of due process. It’s a good thing cops and prosecutors never plant or tamper with evidence, and juries never wrongfully convict. /s


#20

I expect it’s only a matter of time before Trumpublicans start arguing, if they haven’t already, that we should ignore the Bill of Rights because it was written by outlaws.