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FBI Paid Best Buy Geek Squad Employees as Informants?

The FBI allegedly paid Best Buy Geek Squad employees to serve as informants who snooped and probed customer devices for illegal materials, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

The EFF obtained various documents that allegedly describe the FBI-Geek Squad relationship. According to the foundation, the documents released to EFF show that Best Buy officials have enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the agency for at least 10 years.

Further in the EFF report, the foundation says there's evidence that Geek Squad employees proactively searched customers' devices for suspicious content in order to earn a bounty from the FBI.

The EFF posted the related documents here and here. The documents were released following an EFF Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in 2017, The Hill notes.

ChannelE2E has reached out to Best Buy for comment about the report. We'll update this article if we hear anything.

Legal Battle, FBI's Hacker Addiction

The EFF plans to challenge the FBI in court later this year for withholding other requested documents and refusing to answer questions about whether it had similar relationships with other computer repair companies, The Hill adds.

Best Buy still owns Geek Squad, and previously owned mindSHIFT -- a well-known MSP that Ricoh acquired in 2014. ChannelE2E does not believe the alleged FBI relationship extended from the Geek Squad walls into mindSHIFT during Best Buy's ownership of the MSP.

The FBI, meanwhile, has been known to pay informants across the IT landscape. The practice stretches back to at least the 1990s, when the FBI hired hacker Justin Tanner Petersen to track Kevin Mitnick, a rival hacker who was underground at the time.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.