How the FBI Used Geek Squad to Increase Secret Public Surveillance

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by Megalith, Mar 12, 2017.

  1. Megalith

    Megalith 24-bit/48kHz Staff Member

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    While federal prosecutors and FBI officials continue to deny it, unsealed records show that there is a cozy relationship between the bureau and electronics retail chain. Apparently, the feds loved Geek Squad so much that they trained their technicians, who were regularly asked to search computers for felonious content even if repairs were not data-related. One claim is that Best Buy workers were even interested in writing a program to assist the FBI—wait, why work at Geek Squad when you are smart enough to do something like that?

    …evidence demonstrates company employees routinely snooped for the agency, contemplated "writing a software program" specifically to aid the FBI in rifling through its customers' computers without probable cause for any crime that had been committed, and were "under the direction and control of the FBI."Multiple agency memoranda underscore the coziness with Best Buy, including one that stated, "The Louisville Division has maintained [a] close liaison with the Greek Squad management in an effort to glean case initiations and to support the division's Computer Intrusion and Cyber Crime programs."
     
  2. scojer

    scojer 2[H]4U

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    One would think anyone dumb enough to use their computer for nefarious reasons would be smart enough to not need geek squad. Though articles out there prove otherwise.
    Though what about family computers? Kids or uncles looking bad stuff up, granny takes it in, and next thing she knows she is in handcuffs.
     
  3. Jim Kim

    Jim Kim 2[H]4U

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    Grannies are the worst, thankfully the FBI are very skilled and would never allow anything like that to happen.
     
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  4. tetris42

    tetris42 [H]ardness Supreme

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    That picture is so perfect for the message that the FBI is going over your files.
     
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  5. dark_reign

    dark_reign 2[H]4U

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    Yup. Their ridiculous diagnostic and data recovery fees are criminal. But they prey on the customer that doesn't know jack shit about computers. If they're stupid enough to use Geek Squad then let them get what they deserve.
     
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  6. Spidey329

    Spidey329 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    This is another situation where you can bend the rules of due process by employing confidential informants.

    Look at how the DOJ dropped the childporn case to protect their Tor snooping tools recently. You can be sure those "tools" will be outsourced and it'll look like this.

    CI (Geek Squad, etc) finds something (might be by illegal methods) and "tips" their FBI contact.

    FBI opens an investigation, looking for an in of some sort to get a valid warrant. When they do, they "discover" the evidence they were tipped to.

    The CI is often protected (testifies in closed court) at trial and/or has more leeway with the 5th amendment (not turning over his toolset/methods for the initial tip).


    Gets around that whole pesky due process and needing a warrant thing. Protects their toolset/methods.
     
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  7. Dekoth-E-

    Dekoth-E- [H]ardness Supreme

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    You would find yourself surprised at how many people do illegal shit and take zero precautions.
     
  8. Tiberian

    Tiberian DILLIGAFuck

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    And I get called out for saying there's no privacy and no security anymore, I mean really, why the general population can't seem to understand this is simply beyond my ability to comprehend on most any level. :confused:
     
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  9. SvenBent

    SvenBent 2[H]4U

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    Because i have nothing to hide...... man i almost barfed saying that,,,
     
  10. Tiberian

    Tiberian DILLIGAFuck

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    If people really had nothing to hide the planet would be considered a nudist colony, so yeah, HIDE MOFOS HIDE. :D
     
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  11. Converge

    Converge [H]ard|Gawd

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    I don't know about you, but my Granny would hold her own in the slammer. She'll be throwing 'bows by breakfast for sure. You better believe all those fruit cups are gonna be hers if she wants them. Thankfully theres no creepos using her PC. Bitches don't even know the reign of terror they're avoiding by not knowing grams.
     
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  12. Krenum

    Krenum [H]ardForum Junkie

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    So this is why the FBI is broken, now I understand.
     
  13. BloodyIron

    BloodyIron 2[H]4U

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    This sounds like a serious breach of constitutional rights. Namely, unlawful search and seizure, to begin.
     
  14. tetris42

    tetris42 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Oh come on, that's so 90s.
     
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  15. C-rizzle

    C-rizzle Gawd

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    So are you saying "Chuck" was a true story?
    [​IMG]
     
  16. dgz

    dgz [H]ardness Supreme

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    The cynical, vile and spiteful part of me is rejoicing seeing that even the US is can shit hole in some aspects. "Tsk tsk tsk, look at the glorious, free and self-righteous US".

    On the other hand, that's one less beacon of hope, and I am saying that without a hint of sarcasm. Even I need someone to look up to. Sadly, that's not it, not for me.
     
  17. UrielDagda

    UrielDagda 2[H]4U

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    I'm surprised this isn't causing cases to be reviewed.. If they trained them to use these things and report to them, they've effectively deputized them to act as law enforcement-- making it illegal search and seizure since they were doing so without a valid warrant.

    Exactly the reason not to do this crap. It actually works to help bad guys get away with their crimes.
     
  18. Mazzic518

    Mazzic518 n00b

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    You are a terrible human being.
     
  19. lcpiper

    lcpiper [H]ardForum Junkie

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    This writer isn't sourcing anything that he is saying. He is making claims but he is not pointing to any proof or source of where he got his information. No way to see how much he is simply pulling out of context or how much of this is the claims of a defense attorney, etc.

    We also spent some time eon this case awhile back and my position at that time was that although I could see no proof that anything had been done illegally by the FBI or Geek Squad, that I thought the practice of offering rewards in this type of situation was improper and should stop. These employees are in a sensitive position when it comes to a person's private information and reward money is too tempting for young people.
     
  20. dark_reign

    dark_reign 2[H]4U

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    I can't help those that don't do any research on Geek Squad or any other business. If being cautious before using a service makes someone a terrible person, so be it. At least they'll feel better for not being stupid and getting ripped off.
     
  21. lcpiper

    lcpiper [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Nothing says the4y trained them. There was a document suggesting that they train them on how to recognize illegal material. On the surface, that isn't really a bad thing. All individuals have a responsibility to report such things if they come across it in the course of their work. Therefor for BestBuy, it's not a terrible idea to make sure their employees are trained to recognize what is or is not illegal material. That the FBI also recognizes this and is willing to pay for that training, by providing it free of charge to the business, is not a bad thing to suggest. it's employees doing this kind of work who are very likely to come across it.

    Now if the FBI is talking about training the employees on how to search for the material that is an entirely different issue because they are not supposed to be searching for the materials, only reporting it if they find them in the normal course of their work.

    And as I said, this article doesn't say they were trained, only that a document proposed providing training and it is not extremely descriptive of exactly what training they are talking about. That's why I have a problem that this writer didn't source his claims, no way to look into it.
     
  22. lcpiper

    lcpiper [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Sorta of like Jiffy-Lube right?

    Burn in Hell all you service industry types, burn in Hell ! :sneaky:

    Oh, and last night my wife asked me to go look at this old woman's DVD player. I got there and she had accidentally touched her remote control and changed the Input Source from her DVD player to a broadcast channel so her DVD was broke. I set the correct Input Source and showed her what to do so she could "fix" it herself next time it "breaks".

    But you'll all understand I have no doubt that I'll have to come "fix" it again in the future.

    This is an example of some of the people who need BestBuy because not everyone has a good friend who's husband will come help in such cases.
     
  23. dark_reign

    dark_reign 2[H]4U

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    True. There will always be a store or service meant for the non-techie customer. But if you have other options I wouldn't recommend Geek Squad. I've seen their work and it's terrible.
     
  24. lcpiper

    lcpiper [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Small town here, one outfit owns almost all the car dealerships and service shops. We took our Honda to them for a service, it came out sounding terrible. Our Pilot SUV sounded like a diesel truck. Took it back twiced and they couldn't find anything wrong so we took it to a Honda shop in Tucson. They found a cracked radiator core, a screwdriver a busted motor mount and a screwdriver wedged into another motor mount, and still it came out sounding terrible. Two more trips back and they finally found the cause of the bad engine sound. The air intake wasn't seated properly and was sucking air in through a gap between the block housing and the air intake.

    There came a time when I decided I didn't want to try and keep up with what it takes to do my own light auto repair. These days that costs me. I am at the mercy of the mechanics and dealerships the same as non techy people are to the BestBuys of the world. It's just the way the world works. Fortunately a couple hundred in computer repairs is far cheaper than several thousand to fix your car.
     
  25. TwistedAegis

    TwistedAegis [H]ardForum Junkie

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    The scope of the training and or "program(s)" if it rose to that level still seems a bit vague, but I think this type of journalism is important as, without it, we wouldn't even know to look or even have some kind of legal precedent to begin looking into it.

    But that being said, reading about where in the computer the sole image was found, and that it does not sound as if the image was immediately sexual in nature, and that images found in that storage had already ruled not to be ruled as possession already...looks pretty bad all around for an overzealous case, which should be reviewed to see if it is systemic or not.
     
  26. lcpiper

    lcpiper [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I think we are coming to an entirely different conclusion.

    Although the files were in "unallocated space" they were files the employee was trying to recover on request from the customer. The file is a known image that is child pornography. There were many other files found as a result. This doctor is a kiddie porn freak no doubt about it.

    That being said, all this other shit the lawyer is trying to throw up is just a smoke screen trying to divert the court's attention from the very simple facts.

    But this case aside, I still do not think the FBI should be offering rewards to people like these Geek Squad technicians because it is simply too tempting. It's not appropriate and I think the FBI needs to remove the suggestion that these employees are working for the FBI or undercover agents. Getting rid of the reward payouts would go a long way towards making this smell better.

    As for what is vague and all. Come on, most of this article looks like it is from quotes from the defense counsel so ....

    I do agree, reporting on these things is important. But a writer needs to source what he is saying or it's empty, useless, click bait.

    When he writes a quote but doesn't say who said it, what good is that? What kind of journalism is that? And what credence should we be willing to extend to it?
     
  27. dark_reign

    dark_reign 2[H]4U

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    I get where you're coming from.

    For me, car repairs weren't too complicated back in the 1980s/1990s. Parts were easy to change and general repairs were mostly simple jobs. Now they bury stuff under the hood (car battery) which requires a lot time and effort to get to it. Even simple oil changes aren't worth the hassle unless you're penny-pinching or love doing it.

    Cars ain't my thing anymore. Let someone else work on it.
     
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  28. lcpiper

    lcpiper [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Agreed, better have your Radio's anti-theft code handy before you replace your battery. Funny though, the dealership can do it all no problem, replace the battery and you get your car and the radio works fine. Do it yourself and forget that code and call the dealership, see how much they want to charge you to look up that code.
     
  29. TwistedAegis

    TwistedAegis [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Did I miss the many other files in this article, or was that elsewhere? I only recall the one image mentioned when this first came up, then again in this one.
     
  30. jaffy

    jaffy [H] Custodian

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    Geek Squad is hit or miss, depending on the store. I worked for them for 8 years, and ended ended up working my way up to ARA until leaving the company in 2013. During my time there NO customer data was available for external review unless data recovery was requested (handled by Knoll OnTrack) or the PC was connected to Agent Jonny Utah (remote support for diagnostic/virus removal). I have no data on these Jonny Utah folks, but it was always assumed they were located in the USA. This service was more than useless, so most work was handled in shop. NO customer data was ever copied offsite, and I have no reason to believe Jonny Utah ever scanned PCs for "suspect" data. We were never asked to snoop on customer PCs, and there was a strict signed clause for us not to at the time.

    That being said, we had plenty of PCs brought in by local PC repair shops or by folks who had given up on the local shops. There was nearly nothing we couldn't repair. I do miss that work sometimes, but have since worked my way up to critical incident manager of a large aerospace company.
     
  31. Jeremy C

    Jeremy C Gawd

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    I have that code memorized for my garage queen, and that radio hasn't been on in at least 2 years now. Too many batter disconnects on that money pit...
     
  32. lcpiper

    lcpiper [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I'll dig that up if I can, if I can't I'll recant :)
     
  33. lcpiper

    lcpiper [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I am still looking to see if additional images were found on his machine that was worked on by BestBuy. The FBI did conduct searches of his home based on the evidence found on the computer and found;
    http://www.latimes.com/tn-dpt-me-1224-doctor-update-20141222-story.html

    Here are the real details as presented to the courts about what he did and didn't authorize BestBuy to do.
    https://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/rittenmaier14.pdf



    When writers only use a defense attorney's claims it colors the article significantly.
     
  34. zUg_zUg

    zUg_zUg n00b

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    I used to work for best buy many many moons ago. Yes their fees were dam ridiculous. There would always be someone desperate though. One guy had us take apart a dvd player because he had to return a porno dvd that got stuck in it... lol he ended up paying us like 200 bucks and didnt care if we broke the dvd player. smh
     
  35. Flapjack

    Flapjack 2[H]4U

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    I am so sick and tired of the if you've got nothing to hide, why are you worried?" argument. This kind of shit, along with keys to encryption, non-warrant access to devices, etc are travesties. Our government has already shown (through the IRS scandal against Tea Party groups) that it is willing to take illegal action against political dissidents.

    A friend of mine organized a recall in Colorado a few years back in protest of the post-Sandy Hook knee-jerk gun control laws. Eventually, two State senators were recalled. It got really, really nasty. Some of the people on the left were linked to all sorts of obscene things, most notably, death threats. I don't doubt for one minute that someone on the defensive side of that recall, had they had access to the tools, would have setup my friend or others in the campaign with a little kiddie porn on their PCs or phones, then magically find it because we don't have good illegal search and seizure laws. On top of that, we know now they can make it look like a foreign actor did it, so even if the person could prove they were setup (good luck on that, with the negative emotions evoked from a child porn case), the state or local governmentwould still have plausible deniability. Even if exonerated in a court of law, that person would always have that stigma over their head.

    This doesn't even touch on how shitty our government is at protecting its secrets. This stuff is constantly talking in the hands of the wrong people.

    So instead of saying "I don't have anything to hide", you should ask yourself "What do I stand to lose?".
     
  36. Tawnos

    Tawnos 2[H]4U

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    Similarly, when one takes accusations (which are all that charges/court proceedings are, before a conviction) as the truth, it quickly destroys a system that is meant to give fair trial by presuming innocence of the charged until such time that they are convicted. Guy may be a murdering pedophile, but prior to evidence presented at trial and guilt decided upon the weight thereof, I'll wait. Not because I support child abusers (convicted or otherwise), but because I think cases like these serve as tests of the public's willingness to forego constitutional jurisprudence. In short: get the public used to condemning those accused of a crime sans trial, and reap the power that comes from accusation by a governmental power as good as guilt. It's only scary if you ever disagree with those in power...
     
  37. lcpiper

    lcpiper [H]ardForum Junkie

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    It's not the government that is putting this before the public. This writer is and he is only telling the defense attorney's side of the story. To make this reporting even worse, the writer isn't sourcing any the the quotes unless he thinks it tells the Lawyer's side of the story better.

    Perhaps if loser lawyers would stop trying to sway the trial process with the public opinion court we'd all be better off?

    The lawyer is going to lose, he knows it, figures his client has nothing to lose, so he is twisting and omitting facts and he's got a story that get's clicks so he has a media outlet willing to buy into it. Look at what I posted above and tell me it's not true. You can do your own searches for "US vs Rittenmaier" and pull info in of all types including court documents so why isn't this writer linking the sources he is quoting?

    Lawyers aren't the only ambulance chasers.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2017