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EFF sues FBI: Best Buy’s Geek Squad informants violate Fourth Amendment rights

by Vicki Batts, Natural News:

Recently, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) announced that they would be filing suit against the Federal Bureau of Information (FBI). Why? Because they justly believe that the FBI’s use of Best Buy’s Geek Squad employees to search innocent people’s computers without a warrant is a violation of American citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights.

To fight back against this tyrannical federal overreach, the EFF has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the FBI. The organization is seeking to obtain records that would illustrate to what lengths the FBI goes to direct and train Geek Squad employees to engage in searches of people’s devices sans-warrant. One of the key issues EFF hopes to gain a better understanding of is at what point does a Geek Squad member’s search turn into a warrantless government search — which would be a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Private searches do not count as a violation of the Fourth Amendment, unless a government agent instructed someone to do so. One would think the fact that several Geek Squad employees have been paid anywhere from $500 to $1,000 for their finds would be enough to denote the FBI’s involvement with the searches, but the legal aspects of this are murky at best as laws regarding illegal searches have not kept pace with technological innovations.

The case of Dr. Mark Rettenmaier is a perfect example of this. As EFF explains,” [T]he FBI was apparently directing Geek Squad workers to conduct fishing expeditions on people’s devices to find evidence of criminal activity. Prosecutors would later argue, as they did in Rettenmaier’s case, that because private Geek Squad personnel conducted the searches, there was no Fourth Amendment violation.” Since the Rettenmaier case, suspicions of an unsavory relationship between the FBI and the Geek Squad have been running high.

The judge from Rettenmaier’s case recently ruled that because he had consented to a Geek Squad search of his device, both in writing and verbally, his Fourth Amendment rights had not been violated.

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