EFF filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice in May 2017 seeking records about the FBI’s training and use of Best Buy Geek Squad employees to conduct warrantless searches of customers’ computers.
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.
At no point did the FBI get warrants based on probable cause before Geek Squad informants conducted these searches. Nor are these cases the result of Best Buy employees happening across potential illegal content on a device and alerting authorities.
EFF sent a FOIA request to the FBI in February 2017 seeking agency records about the use of informants, training of Best Buy personnel in the detection and location of child pornography on computers, and policy statements about using informants at computer repair facilities. The FBI denied the request, saying it doesn’t confirm or deny that it has records that would reveal whether a person or organization is under investigation. We filed suit after the Department of Justice failed to respond to our administrative appeal of the FBI’s initial denial.