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It seems even your friendly computer repair shop has been recruited to gather private and personal information from citizens.
A court case in California has revealed that technicians from Best Buy’s repair shop, Geek Squad, have been paid to collect and pass information viewed during computer repairs to the FBI. Details from the hearing reveal that its staff identified incriminating evidence on customer computers.
Many of the documents from the case are sealed, but one former Geek Squad manager explained in a statement made available by Consumerist that “when technicians in the data recovery department found suspicious information on customers’ computers, they were to stop working immediately and notify their Supervisor [who] would contact the FBI.”
In another case, Best Buy told the Washington Post that if its employees come across suspicious material during their work they “have a legal and moral obligation to turn that material over to law enforcement”
But the newspaper points out that the court has seen e-mails that were sent between Geek Squad employees and FBI agents. That suggests that the situation had become an established practice.
In most cases, a person releasing his/her computer to the Geek Squad for repair assumes their personal information would remain private. And they certainly don’t think that they could be handing their computer to a paid agent of the federal government, and forfeiting their Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches in the process. It only seems reasonable to expect the FBI to acquire a warrant before their property is searched.
That said, it’s becoming easier for such warrants to be obtained. Last year, the FBI was granted greater authority to hack into computers during criminal investigations, and Congress made it easier for investigators to obtain warrants for devices they don’t have in custody.
So if you’d rather keep your files away from the eyes of law enforcers, it might pay to repair your own laptop.
Be Safe – Backup Your Data Regularly!
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