Week 5 – Best Buy and the FBI

Reports are fluttering around the internet that in several instances, the FBI has used Best Buy Geek Squad employees as informants. Paying the employees a $500 finder’s fee each time they turn in a computer.

R. Scott Moxley wrote about a court case in which this activity was revealed. While Best Buy has denied the activity, claiming they do not purposefully search devices, the court proceeding paint a different picture. According to the article posted by Moxley, Best Buy staffed an informant on nearly every shift starting in 2007.

This is concerning for privacy in general. While the employees seem to be uncovering illegal material, what else are they viewing without the consent of their customers? Is it true that my tax information, banking info, etc. are all open game for Geek Squad employees should I take a device there for repair?

Additionally, I would question whether this type of search is even legal? In the article, the files found were in ‘unallocated trash space.’ Unallocated trash space certainly would not constitute as plain view.

For the average user, I would never recommend they take their device to a repair shop of any type. The only exception to this would be the Apple Store, simply because Apple products can rarely be repaired. Users who cannot fix their own computer should look to a trusted friend for help.

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