Have you ever ran into an issue that required your computer to be repaired by an IT tech? If you turned your computer over to Best Buy’s Geek Squad, you should know that your personal information may not remain private. At least, that’s what a Newport Beach gynecologist is alleging.
He is claiming that the Geek Squad has become a partner with the FBI, and that means they could be searching your computer without your permission.
In documents filed with the U.S. District Court in Orange County, the defense attorney for Dr. Mark Rettenmeier claims his client’s computer was illegally searched by Best Buy’s Geek Squad technicians when he dropped it off for service in 2011. The filings allege that FBI agents failed to inform the magistrate who later approved the search warrant that Geek Squad technicians found images on the hard drive that could only be viewed after the use of specialized forensic tools. Importantly, because the files had to be recovered, it may be impossible to determine when the images were downloaded, when they were erased, and whether the defendant ever looked at them.
The FBI acknowledged that it has previously paid $500 rewards to Best Buy employees for each tip about suspected child pornography. This potentially creates a problem as Geek Squad technicians could have had a financial motive to actively search for incriminating files on computers.
If the court is convinced that Best Buy employees were essentially acting as government agents, the court could determine these searches violated Fourth Amendment rights of the users.
How You Could Be Charged with a Computer Crime
There are a number of ways that you can be charged with a crime through the use of a computer. Child pornography, criminal threats over email, hacking computers and networks, and identity theft are just some examples of crimes involving the use of computers. Employees of computer service companies are trained to keep an eye out for suspicious files, and companies like Best Buy often have policies that require their employees to report any suspected illegal activity.
Very often, people who are accused of these kinds of crimes were victims themselves, as they were tricked into clicking on links in their email, and were led to websites with illegal content or had files downloaded to their computer without permission. As experts for both the defense and prosecution have acknowledged in Rettenmeier’s case, it is possible for files to appear on a computer without the owner ever being aware.
The best defense you have is to always be vigilant whenever you browse the web. Be sure to visit only sites you know and trust, and always be wary when you open links from emails, even if they appear to come from friends. If you’re accused of committing a computer crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.
Contact the Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you are facing criminal charges for a computer-related crime, you should not hesitate to retain the services of an experienced and skilled defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled criminal defense attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing criminal charges for more than 35 years. We work hard and use every legal tool available to help our clients obtain the best possible outcome in their cases.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.