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Electronic Frontier Foundation: Why We're Suing the FBI for Records About Best Buy Geek Squad Informants

Law Enforcement Should Not Be Able to Bypass the Fourth Amendment to Search Your Devices

Sending your computer to Best Buy for repairs shouldn’t require you to surrender your Fourth Amendment rights. But that’s apparently what’s been happening when customers send their computers to a Geek Squad repair facility in Kentucky.

We think the FBI’s use of Best Buy Geek Squad employees to search people’s computers without a warrant threatens to circumvent people’s constitutional rights. That’s why we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit today against the FBI seeking records about the extent to which it directs and trains Best Buy employees to conduct warrantless searches of people’s devices. Read our complaint here [PDF].

EFF has long been concerned about law enforcement using private actors, such as Best Buy employees, to conduct warrantless searches that the Fourth Amendment plainly bars police from doing themselves. The key question is at what point does a private person’s search turn into a government search that implicates the Fourth Amendment. As described below, the law on the question is far from clear and needs to catch up with our digital world.

California Case Highlights FBI’s Problematic Use of Geek Squad Informants

A federal prosecution of a doctor in California revealed that the FBI has been working for several years to cultivate informants in Best Buy’s national repair facility in Brooks, Kentucky, including reportedly paying eight Geek Squad employees as informants. CONTINUES.....

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