The lawsuit exposed that the bureau has been carrying out this practice for the past 10 years in an effort to identify those involved with child pornography.
The technicians were paid between $500 and $1,000 to work as “informants,” and were searching through customers’ personal devices for anything they could find that might be illegal.
The Geek Squad found illicit content on Rettenmaier’s computer in 2011 and handed it over to the FBI.
In 2017, a judge ruled the FBI illegally obtained the images found on Rettenmaier’s computer and could not charge him for possessing child porn.
Geek Squad technicians would snoop through devices they received. When they uncovered child pornography or other potentially illegal material, they would notify the FBI field office in the area.
Agents would then seize the computer from the Geek Squad technicians, run their own searches and tests, and document their findings.
In order to obtain a warrant, the FBI had to prove how they came across the evidence. The lawsuits said agents would lie, and report that Geek Squad technicians notified them when they “accidentally” came across something.
The entire operation raises important questions about privacy rights and the legality of the FBI’s actions.
One one hand, some might argue the bureau was taking necessary steps to identify psychopaths associated with child pornography and exploiting underage children.
On the other hand, there are serious concerns about Fourth Amendment violations.
The customers weren’t aware that the FBI was working with Geek Squad technicians to search through their devices without a warrant or probable cause.
The issue is making national headlines as more lawsuits might come forward against the FBI for this practice.