Last tuesday the Electronic Frontier Foundation posted the records regarding a Freedom of Information lawsuit filled last year, revealing that federal agents would pay Geek Squad managers who’d then pass on information about illegal contents on devices sent in by customers for repairs.
According to the documents released as a result of the lawsuit, this relationship goes back for almost a decade.
“The documents released to EFF show that Best Buy officials have enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the agency for at least 10 years. For example, an FBI memo from September 2008 details how Best Buy hosted a meeting of the agency’s “Cyber Working Group” at the company’s Kentucky repair facility” Aaron Mackey wrote.
The memo and a related email show that Geek Squad employees also gave FBI officials a tour of the facility before their meeting and makes clear that the law enforcement agency’s Louisville Division “has maintained close liaison with the Geek Squad’s management in an effort to glean case initiations and to support the division’s Computer Intrusion and Cyber Crime programs” according EFF’s publication.
FBI agents would “show up, review the images or video and determine whether they believe they are illegal content” and seize the device so an additional analysis could be carried out at a local FBI field office, and sometimes obtain a search warrant to justify the access.
Although these documents provide new details about the FBI’s connection to Geek Squad and its Kentucky repair facility, the FBI has withheld a number of other documents in response to our FOIA suit. Worse, the FBI has refused to confirm or deny to EFF whether it has similar relationships with other computer repair facilities or businesses, despite EFF’s FOIA specifically requesting those records.
The FBI has also failed to produce documents that would show whether the agency has any internal procedures or training materials that govern when agents seek to cultivate informants at computer repair facilities.