From the Department of Further Erosion of Your Civil Rights, the FBI has been busted for paying at least four Best Buy Geek Squad employees to snitch on their customers – for money. $500 a pop, according to Orange County Weekly.
It all started in September 2008 at a Kentucky Best Buy repair facility where the Geeks courted the FBI’s Cyber Working Group. The FBI has an interest in computer hacking, both to perform it on others as well as prevent it from happening to them. They also like an easy bust.
Thanks to an FBI memo retrieved under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), we know the FBI, once again, went too far and broke the laws they are sworn to protect. Of course, it took a lawsuit to pry the truth from the federal government and their paid cronies at Best Buy.
What are these larcenous conspirators up to, then?
On March 8, 2018, Best Buy made a statement to PCMag, saying that four Geek Squad employees might have been paid FBI informants. It appears the federal law enforcement agency didn’t clear their actions with Best Buy’s corporate leadership. The feds went right to four hungry grunts and paid them under the table.
What were the snitches looking for? We may never know everything on the FBI’s criminal activity hit list, but we do know, from Big Think, that the FBI paid them bounties “to flag child pornography found on customers’ computers.”
Those motivated Geek Sneaks did find some child pornography on a computer belonging to one Mark Rettenmaier, a high-profile southern California surgeon from Orange County. The image retrieved, albeit illegally, showed a naked underaged girl wearing a dog collar, posed on her hands and knees on a bed. Retenmaier claimed he knew nothing about the photo nor how it got on his computer’s hard drive. Nevertheless, the FBI pressed charges against the doctor who had been fingered by their stooges.
Once Best Buy’s secret deal with the FBI became public, the tech company’s lawyers responded by denying any knowledge of wrongdoing (in other words, not having control over their own staff), reinforcing their core values of Inherent Goodness, and assuring us that All is Well again:
“Any decision to accept payment was in very poor judgment and inconsistent with our training and policies,” Best Buy wrote. “Three of these employees are no longer with the company and the fourth has been reprimanded and reassigned.”
The problem is that all is not well again. This independent action on the part of the highest law enforcement agency in the nation appears to be part of a massive trend of subterfuge, denial, and coverup.
Does it surprise you to know that the FBI declined to comment to PCMag?
Although Geek Squad maintains their corporate innocence, the child porn found on Rettenmaier’s computer should have gone unnoticed, if the Geek Snitch had done only required repair work. Motivated by a federal reward – at taxpayer expense, mind you – these bounty hunters used special software designed to sweep a hard drive looking for “suspicious content.”
Dear Readers, such activity a patent violation of the computer owner’s Fourth Amendment right against a warrantless search. For this reason alone, the Rettenmaier case was tossed out of court. No matter how despicable pedophiles are, it is illegal to break the law, even for FBI agents.
Rettenmaier’s defense attorney James D. Riddet agreed that his client’s rights had been violated, and the FBI was guilty of “dirty tricks.” He said that “agents conducted two additional searches of the computer without obtaining necessary warrants, lied to trick a federal magistrate judge into authorizing a search warrant, then tried to cover up their misdeeds by initially hiding records.”
But remember, too, that the Geek Snitches had – and have – the capability to look at anything on your computer, including financial and identification information, political plans, and strategic business methods.
In the Rettenmaier case, the Geeks went through the computer’s garbage can to find the offending content – which malware (malicious software) might have installed without the computer owner’s knowledge. The OC Weekly said about the child porn:
“[The] image was found on unallocated ‘trash’ space, meaning it could only be retrieved by ‘carving’ with costly, highly sophisticated forensics tools. In other words, it’s arguable a computer’s owner wouldn’t know of its existence. (For example, malware can secretly implant files.) Worse for the FBI, a federal appellate court unequivocally declared in February 2011 (USA v. Andrew Flyer) that pictures found on unallocated space did not constitute knowing possession because it is impossible to determine when, why or who downloaded them.”
There you have it. To the surprise of no one even mildly acquainted with the law, last November 2017 a judge dropped all charges against the violated California doctor Rettenmaier, finding that the FBI paid stoolies for worthless evidence – and We the People funded all that nonsense.
No wonder Americans have less and less faith in the FBI which is embroiled in everything from presidential election scams to trampling all over our civil rights. Throw the bums out!
And now that Best Buy has demonstrated it can’t manage its employees and has no idea what they are doing to their “valued” customers – or are lying to us about their ignorance – it will be interesting to see how many people spurn their Geek Snitch program and Best Buy stores entirely in order to show their disapproval of the store’s underhanded and illicit spying by refusing to shop there?
Perhaps this is not the best time to buy Best Buy stock. It does appear that Best Buy leadership, like the FBI, is composed of Big Fat Liars. Remember that only four Geek Squad employees came under legal scrutiny. Like cockroaches or other household pests, when you see a few, there are undoubtedly a whole lot more somewhere nearby.
In fact, Attorney Riddet claimed to have records which prove the FBI and Best Buy “made sure that during the period from 2007 to the present, there was always at least one supervisor who was an active informant. The FBI appears to be able to access data at [Best Buy’s main repair facility in Brooks, Kentucky] whenever they want.”
This is shocking! The FBI holds itself above the law once again, believing they can snoop around our private property without probable cause. Who are these scofflaws and WHY ARE THEY IN CHARGE OF OUR TOP NATIONAL CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION ORGANIZATION?
Here’s the bottom line: the FBI and DHS continue to get away with bypassing our Constitutional rights. In this case, the Fourth Amendment is clearly being violated. Again.
Everyone has the right to privacy under Constitutional Amendment #4, which protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.