Is Best Buy’s Geek Squad Too Chummy With FBI?

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Beware if you plan on taking your computer to Best Buy’s Geek Squad for repair. The content on your computer may not be safe, an attorney for a local doctor warned.

A lawyer for Mark Rettenmaier accused of possessing child pornography claimed that the FBI had paid a Best Buy employee for turning over illegal content found on the Newport Beach doctor’s computer.

The case brought up questions about privacy and searches at computer repair shops.

In Rettenmaier’s case, the child porn picture found is unquestionably illegal. But how it was found may be illegal too.

That’s at least what his attorney argued as the reason for the evidence to be thrown out.

He said the FBI was paying a Best Buy Geek Squad employee for every child porn case he found on customers’ computers, essentially using him as an FBI source.

Legal analyst Steve Meister said the agency could be violating the 4th Amendment, which protects people from government searches without a warrant.

“It’s not a search that triggers the 4th Amendment unless the private citizen was acting as a government agent with the authorization at direction of the agency,” Meister said.

And that’s still in question because the Geek Squad employee was allegedly paid and found the picture in deleted files. So was he told to look for the pictures or did he just come across it?

A Best Buy spokesman said the company does not have a relationship with the FBI, and employees are not looking for specific data.

A statement said in part: “From time to time, our repair agents discover material that may be child pornography and we have a legal and moral obligation to turn that material over to law enforcement. We are proud of our policy and share it with our customers before we begin any repair.”

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