Recent litigation in federal court by the privacy and freedom advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) may help us find out the answer to this question. Representatives of the electronic goods retailer, Best Buy, have denied that their employees search for content on devices they repair, but acknowledge that several of their employees have received payment from the FBI for reporting the discovery of child pornography on devices being repaired by Best Buy “Geek Squad” technicians. Best Buy stated that this conduct was against company policy, but the EFF is alleging there is evidence to the contrary.
If the FBI is encouraging private individuals to spy on other citizens, it would be a means to subvert the rule of law by encouraging persons, acting at the urging of government agents, to conduct warrantless searches. Ordinarily, absent the consent of the owner of property, government agents cannot search that property without providing probable cause, i.e. evidence, in support of that search to an independent and neutral magistrate authorized to grant permission to conduct a search. This is part of the guarantee to security and privacy in one’s property and papers, provided in the US Constitution.
Now, it appears that the Geek Squad technicians are incentivized to search computers entrusted in their care for repair by Best Buy customers. The FBI often pays informants to be snitches and give information, so it seems an easy stretch to pay computer technicians to spend some of their work hours looking for contraband computer files on their customers’ computers. For citizens attuned to threats to liberty and privacy, the FBI’s alleged audacious bribery plan should cause alarm, and we should all be grateful that the EFF is challenging this conduct in court.
If you are being investigated or have been charged with a criminal offense, contact the lawyers at the Law Office of Patrick J McLain, PLLC. We can help defend you against various crimes and will fight vigorously to protect your legal rights. You can call us 24/7 by calling (214) 238-9392 or visit our law office at 900 Jackson Street, Suite 635 Dallas, Texas 75202. Don’t wait before Best Buy employees rummage through your laptop or PC!