Best Buy in violation of 4th Amendment ?

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Binman4OSU

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#1
It has been revealed that for years the FBI had been paying Best Buy Geek Squad members as informants without the Knowledge of Best Buy.

Geek Squad employees were paid by the FBI if they were to receive a computer with child pornography on it and flag the computer and alert the FBI

Best Buy released a statement saying the payments the employees received from the FBI were in poor judgement of their employees and inconsistent with their training, but did say that Geek Squad employees have a moral and sometimes legal (in 20 states) obligation to report these images to authorities if they discover them by accident.

Now an attorney in California is arguing that due to the FBI's relationship to the Best Buy employees it turned Best Buy employee searches on computers they were working on into govt searches and is in violation of the 4th Amendment. He is arguing that because of this relationship Best Buy had become a branch of the FBI

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech...-informants-flag-child-pornography/406822002/
 

wrenhal

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#2
Sounds more like they were rewarded for turning in criminals and one of these criminals found out and found a sympathetic judge somehow. My understanding is just like the spokes person said, that if I found that stuff on a customer computer, I'm obligated to turn it in. Rewards for turning in criminals or payments to informants I would think are not a violation of the 4th amendment.

Sent from my Moto G Play using Tapatalk
 
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oks10

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#4
It isn't a violation of the 4th amendment to inform law enforcement of illegal activity you witness.
I think the fact they were getting paid for it is what makes this tricky. I don't think this is a 4th amendment issue though. Technically, they weren't being paid to FIND illegal activity, just paid for reporting illegal activity they FOUND. Splitting hairs really.
 

RxCowboy

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I think the fact they were getting paid for it is what makes this tricky. I don't think this is a 4th amendment issue though. Technically, they weren't being paid to FIND illegal activity, just paid for reporting illegal activity they FOUND. Splitting hairs really.
It isn't a violation of the 4A to pay an informant.

From the article:
Yet the company also noted that employees have "a moral and, in more than 20 states, a legal obligation" to report inadvertent findings of child pornography. (emphasis added)​
<snip>​
Riddet's client, a California doctor named Mark Rettenmaier, faced child pornography charges after a Geek Squad technician found a questionable image on his hard drive, which was sent to Best Buy's Kentucky facility after he sought repairs.​
A federal judge eventually dismissed the charges, claiming a resulting warrant to search Rettenmaier's home stemmed from "false and misleading" information. The evidence found — hundreds of child pornography images, prosecutors said — was thrown out.​
If the technicians have a statutory obligation to report child porn then the judge's beef is with the legislature, not with law enforcement.

As a healthcare provider I have a statutory obligation to report child abuse, which would include child porn. If I were helping a friend with computer problems (which I used to do fairly regularly) and I found it then I have to report it or *I* am in violation of the law.
 

oks10

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#6
It isn't a violation of the 4A to pay an informant.

From the article:
Yet the company also noted that employees have "a moral and, in more than 20 states, a legal obligation" to report inadvertent findings of child pornography. (emphasis added)​
<snip>​
Riddet's client, a California doctor named Mark Rettenmaier, faced child pornography charges after a Geek Squad technician found a questionable image on his hard drive, which was sent to Best Buy's Kentucky facility after he sought repairs.​
A federal judge eventually dismissed the charges, claiming a resulting warrant to search Rettenmaier's home stemmed from "false and misleading" information. The evidence found — hundreds of child pornography images, prosecutors said — was thrown out.​
If the technicians have a statutory obligation to report child porn then the judge's beef is with the legislature, not with law enforcement.

As a healthcare provider I have a statutory obligation to report child abuse, which would include child porn. If I were helping a friend with computer problems (which I used to do fairly regularly) and I found it then I have to report it or *I* am in violation of the law.
I'm not in disagreement with you. What I'm saying is that they're probably trying to stand on them being paid to find things vs being paid for reporting anything they might find, if that makes sense. That's false but that looks like what they're trying to argue. In your case, you're obligated to report child abuse but you're not being paid to go search for it. Again, I don' think they have a leg to stand on I'm just stating what I'm observing.
 

CocoCincinnati

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#7
So where is the line drawn between a private citizen acting on their own to report criminal activity if they come across it and then being rewarded for that OR somebody who is a paid agent of the police who in the course of their regular job, also actively search for evidence that can be used against somebody because they regularly receive income for doing so.

Let's take technology out of it because the law always seems to lag behind in that category. Let's say the FBI paid house painters a yearly stipend to snoop around in houses they painted and report any illegal items they ran across. Compared to a house painter who just happened to notice something illegal and then reported it later when they saw a reward offered. Two different things, one OK IMO, one not....where does the Best Buy thing fall?
 

ksupoke

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#8
If you take your computer to the geek squad and your issue is that none of your files open or your photo file locks when you click it, they must ensure that files open, at that point you are giving them carte blanche to open your files i.e. consent. If you take your computer to best buy to have the hard drive replaced then they have no right to search your hard drive.

Being paid isn't the issue, consent to search is.
 

oks10

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#9
Regardless, if they're not doing it already, Best Buy better make it pretty clear up front what a customer is consenting to when they hand over their computer. I don't know what their policies are so they may very well already have something stated.
 

ksupoke

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#10
Regardless, if they're not doing it already, Best Buy better make it pretty clear up front what a customer is consenting to when they hand over their computer. I don't know what their policies are so they may very well already have something stated.
They don't tell you anything, you tell them what the issue is that you are having. Again, if your issue revolves around files, file maintenance, files opening etc... then you know they have to access your files and you are providing consent for them to do so, if otoh, your issue doesn't require them to scan or review or otherwise access your files then you are not providing consent for them to do so. If the FBI is paying them when they find something while doing the service where they have a legitimate right to access there's nothing wrong unless it violates BB's policy but if they search beyond what they have the legal right to, paid or not, that is certainly a violation of the 4th amendment.

It would be no different than a mechanic going through your glove box when you took your car in for an oil change. They have no legitimate cause to do so.
 

GodsPeace

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#11
I'm not in disagreement with you. What I'm saying is that they're probably trying to stand on them being paid to find things vs being paid for reporting anything they might find, if that makes sense. That's false but that looks like what they're trying to argue. In your case, you're obligated to report child abuse but you're not being paid to go search for it. Again, I don' think they have a leg to stand on I'm just stating what I'm observing.
I get the hesitance, but this is one situation I don't see a lot of issues with it. Now, if Best Buy employees try to create evidence I would have a greater issue with this.
 

oks10

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#12
I get the hesitance, but this is one situation I don't see a lot of issues with it. Now, if Best Buy employees try to create evidence I would have a greater issue with this.
There's just a fine line between an employee incidentally coming across something and one LOOKING for something. I understand ksupoke's point but I don't 100% agree that in taking a pc in for a file issue that it gives BB free reign to explore the entire contents of your computer (unless their policies specifically state otherwise). If I take a computer in because it won't let me access "this" folder then there's no reason for them to go browsing through "that" folder. I say this for ANY type of sensitive files be it illegal stuff you don't want found or personal documents like tax forms. I'm all for catching criminals but I'm not for violating rights... I don't necessarily think rights are being violated here but there sure looks to be an opportunity for it to happen.

All of this said, if you have that kind of crap on your computer and take it freakin Best Buy to get fixed, you're stupid and really just asking to get caught...
 

ksupoke

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#14
There's just a fine line between an employee incidentally coming across something and one LOOKING for something. I understand ksupoke's point but I don't 100% agree that in taking a pc in for a file issue that it gives BB free reign to explore the entire contents of your computer (unless their policies specifically state otherwise). If I take a computer in because it won't let me access "this" folder then there's no reason for them to go browsing through "that" folder. I say this for ANY type of sensitive files be it illegal stuff you don't want found or personal documents like tax forms. I'm all for catching criminals but I'm not for violating rights... I don't necessarily think rights are being violated here but there sure looks to be an opportunity for it to happen.

All of this said, if you have that kind of crap on your computer and take it freakin Best Buy to get fixed, you're stupid and really just asking to get caught...
If I tell them I am having problems accessing information in my files or simply accessing my files, then the last thing I want is for them to do a repair and then a cursory examination once the fix is in place, unfortunately that is their sop, I want them to ensure I can access my files, all my files. To that end, if that is my issue then I am allowing them to access and open whatever files (not copy and not use or sell but open) they deem necessary to to ensure I am not back in store next week or they are not back in my office, for the same issue.

I agree that if you are stupid, or perverted, there's probably a correlation, enough to have that on your system and you are having it repaired, you are begging to be caught but but being a pervert nor being stupid exempts you from protection under the law/Constitution.
 

Deere Poke

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#15
If you take your computer to the geek squad and your issue is that none of your files open or your photo file locks when you click it, they must ensure that files open, at that point you are giving them carte blanche to open your files i.e. consent. If you take your computer to best buy to have the hard drive replaced then they have no right to search your hard drive.

Being paid isn't the issue, consent to search is.
That was the problem, they were searching everyone's hard drive. So they were violating some laws.
 

Deere Poke

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#16
I agree that if you are stupid, or perverted, there's probably a correlation, enough to have that on your system and you are having it repaired, you are begging to be caught but but being a pervert nor being stupid exempts you from protection under the law/Constitution.
You wouldn't believe some of the stuff I have seen on peoples computers when they bring them in for data recovery. Worst one had so much gay porn on it simply told the guy I couldn't recover his grandma's pics. Truth was I couldn't stomach sorting the shit.

Best one was a cute young lady's home made porn collection.
 

ksupoke

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#17
That was the problem, they were searching everyone's hard drive. So they were violating some laws.
Agreed
From the article
Yet the company also noted that employees have "a moral and, in more than 20 states, a legal obligation" to report inadvertent findings of child pornography. (emphasis added, mine)
That’s exactly what I said, if during the course of normal operations they come across something like this then that’s one thing. If they are searching that’s something else and that something else is a violation of the customers Constitutional rights.
 

oks10

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#18
Agreed
From the article
Yet the company also noted that employees have "a moral and, in more than 20 states, a legal obligation" to report inadvertent findings of child pornography. (emphasis added, mine)
That’s exactly what I said, if during the course of normal operations they come across something like this then that’s one thing. If they are searching that’s something else and that something else is a violation of the customers Constitutional rights.
That's what I was trying to get at. That's one curious click away from violating the customers rights. (Well, 2 clicks technically unless you're one of those weirdos that enables the "single click to open" feature... :D)
 
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#19
And by paying the Geek Squad for finding contraband, the FBI is incentivizing them to snoop through things they might not otherwise. And on Best Buy's dime. Their employees are working a second job while on the clock.
 

Deere Poke

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Agreed
From the article
Yet the company also noted that employees have "a moral and, in more than 20 states, a legal obligation" to report inadvertent findings of child pornography. (emphasis added, mine)
That’s exactly what I said, if during the course of normal operations they come across something like this then that’s one thing. If they are searching that’s something else and that something else is a violation of the customers Constitutional rights.
I fired a couple of guys when I had a shop for doing just that. Computer comes in with a bad power supply and catch them browsing the file system.

I honestly can't fathom why someone would bring in a system with something criminal on it for any type of file recovery. To recover it you are going to see it.

My biggest concern if I took mine in would be financial information.

Honestly keep paper backups of anything financial, if the computer dies. Burn it, shoot it and then blow it the hell up. Don't take it to anyone you don't completely trust to get it recovered. Yeah it's a pain in the butt to get everything back up after that but it's better than the alternative of some Best Buy computer jockey having access to all your accounts.

Second rule is don't put anything you don't want the world to see on the cloud. If it's on the cloud it's most likely been hacked, the people hosting it simply don't know yet. It takes years to detect many of the hacks that happen. Sometimes the vulnerability gets patched so the hack stops and they never know they were hacked. Portable hard drives make good back ups for things you want to keep confidential.