EFF: Records Show The FBI Paid Geek Squad Informants For Years

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techy1966

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I see why they would want to catch poeple that are into child porn but at the same time if a person takes their computer in to be fixed they do not expect the tech to go hells bells trying to fry them to make a buck from being paid by the FBI. It is a total invasion of privacy and I am sure if more people knew about this Best buy and most likely other companies that are doing the same thing would be in a heap of trouble and open to several law suits. I say this beciase all we know about is the one thing the FBI paid money for to get peoples info what we do not know and most likely never know is just how far this goes and what else they are paying for to get information about us.
 

LORD_ORION

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Humans are horrible, and will gladly create false accusations if there is incentive to do so. (such a being paid and getting recognition)

Humans are horrible, and will gladly murder you on someone else's orders. (Milgram experiment)

Humans are horrible, and will gladly use morally repugnant and illegal activities to target you if they don't like you. (gang stalking)

It seems that it is lost on many people that illegal search and seizure laws do not exist to protect you from getting caught from committing crimes, but infact exist to prevent you from being oppressed by a totalitarian government.

When the government breaks these laws and then uses the excuse "but they did commit the crime" and you find yourself agreeing with them, it won't be long before the government boot is stamping on your face, for the rest of your life.
 

LeeRains

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Oct 22, 2016
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What a <mod edit> up story. It makes absolutely everyone involved sound like incompetent law breakers. If the FBI was simply after child porn, why not meet with the “Geek Squad” and educate them on what to do upon finding child porn in the course of regular service? Nothing wrong with that. What’s with the payments?

And it makes BestBuy look altogether, utterly incompetent if the FBI has to take things into their own hands (if this story is taken at face value).

But what's with BestBuy’s statement?

“In the wake of these allegations, we have redoubled our efforts to train employees on what to do — and not do — in these circumstances.”

“AND NOT DO”? Is BestBuy *that* concerned with losing the business of people with child porn? (Much like Trump giving a silent nod to white suprematists and the like, no as not to lose their vote?)

This just makes everyone look terrible. It’s hard to believe the FBI didn’t have ulterior motives too— because we all know how well they can monitor internet traffic with their pals in alphabet soup govnt agencies. Where are everyone’s priorities here?

I normally side with the EFF, but this doesn’t appear to be a very clear black-and-white issue. Lots of gray poop smeared all over the place.
 

TJ Hooker

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I think it's more about having their employees not go rooting around through your computer (including searching through deleted files) trying to dig up dirt irrespective of what you brought your PC in for. It's like bringing your car in for an oil change and finding out that the guys at the shop were searching through your glove compartment. Doesn't matter if you're doing anything illegal or not, people aren't going to be happy about that.
 

Math Geek

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i have personally handed over more than a dozen pc's to the feds that were brought to me for fixing. i don't go digging through looking for anything but if i turn your pc on and it has child porn for wallpaper, well i don't feel bad at all for turning it in.

i have the contact card for my local agent who handles such cases and i call him whenever i find such terrible stuff. i've asked and been instructed on what to do when i find it and how to handle the pc until it's picked up by the feds. i don't bother with regular media files as i have no idea where they came from nor do i care. but if i run across any child porn while fixing a pc/mobile, all bets are off.

i have never been payed for the info though. if they paying geek squad and others then i'm pretty sure someone owes me some cash. :)

i feel the same way about this, however as many others are voicing. if they are scanning and deep diving for anything they can turn in, then i'd be against it 100%. but if they turn on your pc and you got a bunch of it sitting on your desktop, then all the power to them for turning it in. i make it clear with all my clients that i will happily turn in anyone who hands me a device with child porn on it!! and i don't apologize for that stance at all.
 

sykozis

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I have no issue with turning in people who have child pornography on their PC. However, given that people do buy computers second-hand, I do have issue with turning in someone after a data recovery process has completed. If data recovery software has been run on the computer, how does Geek Squad know for certain that the present owner of the computer is the one that downloaded the child porn? Maybe they bought the computer second-hand and the previous owner downloaded it... Not everything is as cut and dry as it appears. Also, there's no reason for Geek Squad employees to be going through someone's personal files, even after a data recovery attempt. That is something Best Buy needs to address. There's potential for criminal activity there.... I'm all for stopping these sick people, but things have to be done the right way. If someone is using child porn as a wallpaper, that's one thing. If it's recovered from a hard drive after being deleted, that's something completely different.

Btw, if your vehicle has wheel locks and you're expecting your tires to get rotated when you get your oil changed, expect someone to go through your glove box and/or trunk. I had a friend that found a huge collection of child pornography in a customer's trunk because he had wheel locks on his car and his wheel lock key was in his trunk. So, either leave it in a cup holder or expect someone to go through your vehicle to find it.
 

LeeRains

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Oct 22, 2016
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It’s nice to see here that there are people that don’t turn a blind eye out of apathy and/or greed. (And who also appear to use proper judgement as to what is legitimate evidence for the Feds to look at.) A little faith in humanity has been restored.
 

berezini

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why work for 10 dollars an hour when you can plant illegal materials on a customers computer than report it and get paid fast easy cash?

P.S. Let's sell customer a "USER REFURBISHED" drive off ebay because its super cheap and plant some child porn on that then turn innocent people in to FBI.
 

JonDol

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That's what I was thinking about that Freak Squad. I'm also thinking about other even more interesting material such as commercial secrets/brevetable work that was uncovered during their "fixing"..
 

rwinches

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In that one case they didn't only search deleted files but unallocated space which is not OK.
I am not convinced that they only checked for CP, I would think that would be the perfect cover because we all agree it is bad.
There might be all kinds of information on a HD that is private, financial or business related so I think BB is taking on huge legal responsibility that requires bonding of it's employees and strict policy. When I worked with financial and legal firms, bonding was a requirement. When working on trading floors it was expected that screen and tickers and any documents were off limits. I'm not sure GEEK Squad workers are held to high standards maybe I'm wrong.
 

Math Geek

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i can pretty much guarantee they are not bonded or anything like that. no one's going through all that extra work to make $10 an hour.

i would suspect that mindlessly scanning through pc's for something would be a violation of illegal search and seizure laws if it was found out. remember the playpen FBI fiasco where they ran a CP site for 2 weeks to record ip's and such. many of those cases were thrown out as illegal searches. and those people were guilty as hell and everyone knew it.

as for planting evidence, that is highly unlikely. such a comment shows ignorance of all the hidden ways your pc keeps tabs on files and how/when they were created/accessed. i'm sure a few bucks is nowhere near worth the effort to plant evidence, manipulate all the metadata, hide this fact and then watch innocent people have their lives ruined. there are procedures that have to be followed considering the pc is out of the owners control while BB has it. there are extra facts that have to be established to convince a judge that the files were indeed from the owner and that he knew they were there. that's part of the law, they have to prove that the owner knew the files were there. simply having them on the pc does not mean whoever brought it in knew anything about it. a couple of the pc's i turned in had the cases dismissed due to the pc being a community resource used by 5+ people in the house. since they could not show who put it there and why, no one could be convicted for the possession. so some geek squad guy dropping some files on a pc and calling it in, would not be worth the trouble nor would it likely not be detected and that person would face federal felony charges. what $10/hr wanna be pc geek is gonna take that risk for a few extra bucks?
 

Kurt Saldutti

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Mar 11, 2016
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This is wrong in every way. The government has no business playing snoop into anyone life unless there are outright reasons found with probable cause a warrant that a crime is being committed. This is 2nd tier invasion. This is like the TSA looking for hazards of flight, stopping a hazard of the flights safety being breached. The TSA get snooping right to report for example large sums of cash or peeing over paperwork say in some one belongings and finding maybe something falls into incrimination such as illegal activity. Finding a bottle of pills with someone else’s name on it or no prescription data on the bottle and you at considered for a drug crime. This is common occurrences and is dead wrong. This is the same with having a computer repaired but actually worse. It’s a retail store repair facility tasked to repaid a computer problem not the TSA or any other government agency. They have zero business doing nothing more than repairing your computer (end of story) This seeing something say something has gone into cold war tactics and worse. If you feel so compelled to take hardware into anyone for diagnostic and repair including your phone you best dump all personal information to a portable drive. You also better know the ins and outs of where software image or ghost files are hidden. Best case is to have a hard drive with a current OS sitting around for repair service. Simply remove all drives and pop in your service drive. Remember in laptops SSD drives do not look like drives they are cards. Very simple you remove and replace once you have removed the bottom cover.
 

Olle P

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That's my first reaction too, not to mention the fact that it takes some effort to find it in the first place.
Then I read Best Buy's reply and realized that the find may have come after the customer actively asked for a retrieval of deleted data...

I wouldn't be surprised if there's also some log in the computer showing the date/time of deletion for files, so if illegal files were deleted very close to the time the computer was handed over for repairs it could be hard to argue that the owner/user didn't know about them...

 

Math Geek

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not only creation/deletion times, but also access times, what else was running at the time and a host of other data is all stored by the pc. think about a memory dump file, error reporting service and other diagnostic info. anyone who has ever used them knows how detailed they can be. that's only the tip of the iceburg for the metadata available.

this is also why it was so silly to suggest a worker would plant files then turn someone in. the time stamps would quickly show when it was copied to the pc and how. try to fake the copy data? everything else on the pc better match up as well. so you'd have to read, understand and then fake all the data to be sure it makes sense later. of course this also leaves traces of itself as now those files have been accessed differently than the logs say and so on and so on.

not saying no one has the ability to do this but i'm pretty sure it's above the knowledge level of the average BB geek member. they'd likely be working somewhere they could actually get paid for that ability rather than at BB or office max.

again this knowledge is what i have learned during the times i turned in pc's. got to go to court and testify and all that jazz each time. got well versed in chain of custody practices and all the ways lawyers try to alter the facts. seen a few cases dismissed due to simply the pc being used in a communal area accessed by many. though a few others were successful due to the meta-data proving who was using the files and when. pro tip-don't do your own personal taxes, or updating your resume at the same time your viewing illegal material. kind of makes it hard to say "i wasn't even on the pc that day".
 

JonDol

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That metadata altering is not difficult. For example, it was one of the very first things I did at school when I learned the x86 assembly language. It was also usefull because some of the teachers used the metadata to determine if we did ourselves the home work or copied it from someone else.



Sorry to disagree again: it is not that silly. That search through deleted partitions is already above the average of even more knowledgeable peoples and they did it using specialized tools. There are also tools that alter that metadata. All the decent root kits do that in addition to disabling the diagnostic/metadata tracking while they do the 'interesting stuff'.

It is also not silly because they could plant that bad stuff not on their personal initiative but on the FBI's request which could have also provide the tools to properly do that.

That deplorable practice of the Geek Squad opens room for lot of speculation and whatever the outcome it won't be good for them.

Cheers
 

Math Geek

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Herald
sorry did not realize that the geek squad was now part of the giant gov conspiracy to frame the whole US for child porn. my bad.

i'm not sure which addition i have to add to my tin foil hat to protect me from this new gov threat.

there are too many real threats out there to be worrying about such nonsense scenarios. as i said before, i don't like the idea of them casually browsing people's files looking for whatever but to pretend they would be planting stuff to frame people for the gov is just plain stupid. i'm not even sure there is a chin strap strong enough to keep my tin foil hat secure enough to ward of this kind of conspiracy. can you share some pics of the add-ons for yours so i can get some idea how to make mine better?
 
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