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The FBI Is Paying Geek Squad Members To Dig Inside Computers

Announcement & Awareness submitted by the Sui Juris Club Forum inhabitants

The FBI Is Paying Geek Squad Members To Dig Inside Computers

Postby Shuftin » Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:09 pm

The FBI Is Apparently Paying Geek Squad Members To Dig Around In Computers For Evidence Of Criminal Activity

from the maybe-these-are-the-'smart-people'-who-can-fix-Comey's-encryption-&# dept

Law enforcement has a number of informants working for it and the companies that already pay their paychecks, like UPS, for example. It also has a number of government employees working for the TSA, keeping their eyes peeled for "suspicious" amounts of cash it can swoop in and seize.

Unsurprisingly, the FBI also has a number of paid informants. Some of these informants apparently work at Best Buy -- Geek Squad by day, government informants by… well, also by day.
According to court records, Geek Squad technician John "Trey" Westphal, an FBI informant, reported he accidentally located on Rettenmaier's computer an image of "a fully nude, white prepubescent female on her hands and knees on a bed, with a brown choker-type collar around her neck." Westphal notified his boss, Justin Meade, also an FBI informant, who alerted colleague Randall Ratliff, another FBI informant at Best Buy, as well as the FBI. Claiming the image met the definition of child pornography and was tied to a series of illicit pictures known as the "Jenny" shots, agent Tracey Riley seized the hard drive.
Not necessarily a problem, considering companies performing computer/electronic device repair are legally required to report discovered child porn to law enforcement. The difference here is the paycheck. This Geek Squad member had been paid $500 for digging around in customers' computers and reporting his findings to the FBI. That changes the motivation from legal obligation to a chance to earn extra cash by digging around in files not essential to the repair work at hand.

More of a problem is the FBI's tactics. While it possibly could have simply pointed to the legal obligation Best Buy has to report discovered child porn, it proactively destroyed this argument by apparently trying to cover up the origin of its investigation, as well as a couple of warrantless searches.
Setting aside the issue of whether the search of Rettenmaier's computer constituted an illegal search by private individuals acting as government agents, the FBI undertook a series of dishonest measures in hopes of building a case, according to James D. Riddet, Rettenmaier's San Clemente-based defense attorney. Riddet says agents conducted two additional searches of the computer without obtaining necessary warrants, lied to trick a federal magistrate judge into authorizing a search warrant, then tried to cover up their misdeeds by initially hiding records.
The "private search" issue is mentioned briefly in OC Weekly's report, but should be examined more closely. Private searches are acceptable, but the introduction of cash payments, as well as the FBI having an official liaison with Best Buy suggests the searches aren't really "private." Instead, the FBI appears to be using private searches to route around warrant requirements. That's not permissible and even the FBI's belief that going after the "worst of worst" isn't going to be enough to salvage these warrantless searches.

As Andrew Fleischman points out at Fault Lines, the government's spin on the paid "private search" issue -- that it's "wild speculation" the Best Buy employee was acting as a paid informant when he discovered the child porn -- doesn't hold up if the situation is reversed. AUSA Anthony Brown's defensive statement is nothing more than the noise of a double standard being erected.
Flipping the script for a minute, would an AUSA say it was “wild speculation” that a man was a drug dealer when phone records showed he regularly contacted a distributor, he was listed as a drug dealer in a special book of drug dealers, and he had received $500.00 for drugs? Sorry to break it to you, Mr. Brown, but once you start getting paid for something, it’s tough to argue you’re just doing it for the love of the game.
In addition to these problems, the file discovered by the Best Buy tech was in unallocated space… something that points to almost nothing, legally-speaking.
[I]n Rettenmaier's case, the alleged "Jenny" image was found on unallocated "trash" space, meaning it could only be retrieved by "carving" with costly, highly sophisticated forensics tools. In other words, it's arguable a computer's owner wouldn't know of its existence. (For example, malware can secretly implant files.) Worse for the FBI, a federal appellate court unequivocally declared in February 2011 (USA v. Andrew Flyer) that pictures found on unallocated space did not constitute knowing possession because it is impossible to determine when, why or who downloaded them.
This important detail was apparently glossed over in the FBI's warrant application to search Rettenmaier's home and personal devices.
In hopes of overcoming this obstacle, they performed a sleight-of-hand maneuver, according to Riddet. The agents simply didn't alert Judge Marc Goldman that the image in question had been buried in unallocated space and, thus, secured deceitful authorization for a February 2012 raid on Rettenmaier's Laguna Niguel residence.
Courts have shown an often-excessive amount of empathy for the government's "outrageous" behavior when pursuing criminals. The fact that there's child porn involved budges the needle in the government's direction, but the obstacles the FBI has placed in its own way through its deceptive behavior may prevent it from salvaging this case.
The case is already on very shaky ground, with the presiding judge questioning agents' "odd memory losses," noting several discrepancies between the FBI's reports and its testimony, and its "perplexing" opposition to turning over documents the defense has requested.

In any event, it appears the FBI has a vast network of informants -- paid or otherwise -- working for both private companies and the federal government. Considering the FBI is already the beneficiary of legal reporting requirements, this move seems ill-advised. It jeopardizes the legitimacy of the evidence, even before the FBI engages in the sort of self-sabotaging acts it appears to have done here.
Underneath it all is the perplexing and disturbing aversion to adhering to the Fourth Amendment we've seen time and time again from law enforcement agencies, both at local and federal levels. Anything that can be done to avoid seeking a warrant, and anything that creates an obfuscatory paper trail, is deployed to make sure the accused faces an even more uphill battle once they arrive in court.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170 ... vity.shtml
The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws. - Tacitus, Roman senator and historian (A.D. c.56-c.115)

The Government is the People, by the People, just not ---- YOU People. - Unknown

When neither their property nor their honor is touched, the majority of men live content. - Niccolo Machiavelli

The old police motto of TOprotect and servehas been replaced with YOU "comply or die.”

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Re: The FBI Is Paying Geek Squad Members To Dig Inside Compu

Postby Shuftin » Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:41 pm

Illinois turns hair stylists into snitches; tells them to spy on their customers and report to law enforcement

January 10, 2017

by: Don Wrightman

(NaturalNews) Service professionals working various positions in Illinois will now be required to complete domestic abuse prevention training as part of their licensing requirements. The new law, which just went into effect on Sunday, impacts hair stylists, barbers, cosmetologists, estheticians, hair braiders and nail technicians. Although workers won’t be required to report violence, they are protected from any liability under the law. Some believe this is a deliberate effort to take advantage of the intimate relations between the service professionals and their clients.

The required training aims to teach beauty professionals how to spot signs of abuse. The new law could prove to be a great aid for rescuing sex trafficking victims from their captors, but that appears to be the only potential upside. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is a federally run department which will be enforcing the new state law, but the Department of Homeland Security runs the Illinois Department of Human Services, which handles domestic abuse in the state.

The trusted relationships between beauty workers and their clients are now questionable in Illinois. State Rep. Fran Hurley believes that the “openness and freeness” of those relations puts the employees in position to see something that just isn’t quite right. It’s easy to give away information that should be kept private when you are enjoying a conversation with someone you trust. Illinois is ready to take advantage of that information with the some 88,000 beauty professionals intended to complete the training program within the next two years.

Some clients do have a tendency to open up about the on goings of their personal lives. Sometimes they reveal so much information that they are too embarrassed to go back again. While the hour-long training sessions won’t make any barbers an instant expert in domestic abuse, it does help raise awareness in two separate areas.

Anything you say can and will be used against you

No, you are not being read your Miranda rights, but that statement applies just about everywhere. Everything you say and do is subject to scrutiny. The more information you give away, the more opportunities exist for unforeseen circumstances to arise, which may impact you negatively. We live in a world where people will try to bring you down. You can read the news on any given day and you will find stories pertaining to job loss and fallout — because somebody decided to open their mouth.

http://www.naturalnews.com/2017-01-10-i ... ement.html
The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws. - Tacitus, Roman senator and historian (A.D. c.56-c.115)

The Government is the People, by the People, just not ---- YOU People. - Unknown

When neither their property nor their honor is touched, the majority of men live content. - Niccolo Machiavelli

The old police motto of TOprotect and servehas been replaced with YOU "comply or die.”

Better ten innocent Sheeple in jail than one guilty Person on the street! Blue Wall Of Modus Operandi
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Re: The FBI Is Paying Geek Squad Members To Dig Inside Compu

Postby Shuftin » Sat Mar 11, 2017 12:52 pm

FBI Used Best Buy's Geek Squad To Increase Secret Public Surveillance

MARCH 8, 2017

BY R. SCOTT MOXLEY

Recently unsealed records reveal a much more extensive secret relationship than previously known between the FBI and Best Buy's Geek Squad, including evidence the agency trained company technicians on law-enforcement operational tactics, shared lists of targeted citizens and, to covertly increase surveillance of the public, encouraged searches of computers even when unrelated to a customer's request for repairs.

To sidestep the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against warrantless invasions of private property, federal prosecutors and FBI officials have argued that Geek Squad employees accidentally find and report, for example, potential child pornography on customers' computers without any prodding by the government. Assistant United States Attorney M. Anthony Brown last year labeled allegations of a hidden partnership as "wild speculation." But more than a dozen summaries of FBI memoranda filed inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse this month in USA v. Mark Rettenmaier contradict the official line.

One agency communication about Geek Squad supervisor Justin Meade noted, "Agent assignments have been reviewed and are appropriate for operation of this source," that the paid informant "continues to provide valuable information on [child pornography] matters" and has "value due to his unique or potential access to FBI priority targets or intelligence responsive to FBI national and/or local collection."

Other records show how Meade's job gave him "excellent and frequent" access for "several years" to computers belonging to unwitting Best Buy customers, though agents considered him "underutilized" and wanted him "tasked" to search devices "on a more consistent basis."

To enhance the Geek Squad role as a "tripwire" for the agency, another FBI record voiced the opinion that agents should "schedule regular meetings" with Meade "to ensure he is reporting."

A Feb. 27, 2008, agency document memorialized plans "seeking the training of the Geek Squad Facility technicians designed to help them identify what type of files and/or images would necessitate a call to the FBI."

Jeff Haydock, a Best Buy vice president, told OC Weekly in January there has been no arrangement with the FBI. "If we discover child pornography in the normal course of serving a computer, phone or tablet, we have an obligation to contact law enforcement," he said, calling such policy "the right thing to do."

But evidence demonstrates company employees routinely snooped for the agency, contemplated "writing a software program" specifically to aid the FBI in rifling through its customers' computers without probable cause for any crime that had been committed, and were "under the direction and control of the FBI."

Multiple agency memoranda underscore the coziness with Best Buy, including one that stated, "The Louisville Division has maintained [a] close liaison with the Greek Squad management in an effort to glean case initiations and to support the division's Computer Intrusion and Cyber Crime programs."

These latest revelations are the result of the work of James D. Riddet, the San Clemente-based defense attorney representing Rettenmaier. The doctor, who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology, is fighting allegations he knowingly possessed child pornography after the Geek Squad claimed it found an illicit image on a Hewlett Packard computer he left with the company for repair in 2011. U.S. Department of Justice officials filed criminal charges the following year. But the case has been in legal limbo while U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney considers Riddet's contentions of outrageous government conduct.

In 2016, the defense lawyer claimed the FBI made Best Buy an unofficial wing of the agency by incentivizing Geek Squad employees to dig through customers' computers, paying $500 each time they found evidence that could launch criminal cases.

There are also technical weaknesses in the agency's pursuit of Rettenmaier. Just weeks before his arrest, federal judges ruled in a notable separate matter that child porn found on a computer's unallocated space couldn't be used to win a possession conviction because there is almost no way to learn who placed it there, who viewed it, or when or why it was deleted. Cynthia Kayle, a lead agent working against Rettenmaier, knew Geek Squad informants had found the image in unallocated space, which is only accessible via highly specialized computer-intrusion tools the doctor didn't possess. Agents won a magistrate judge's permission to advance the case by failing to advise him of those facts and falsified an official time line to hide warrantless searches, according to the defense lawyer. Brown disputes any law-enforcement wrongdoing.

But the government's case took more blows in January. During a pretrial hearing with obnoxious FBI agents visibly angered that I'd alerted the public about their heavy-handed tactics, Riddet asked Carney to take his first look at the image found on his client's device, pointing out the picture does not depict *** or show genitals. The lawyer then questioned agent Tracey L. Riley, who retreated from her original, case-launching stance that the image—known as "9yoJenny"—was definitely child pornography to "not exactly" child porn. Under questioning, experts for both the defense and the government testified that it's not only possible for files from the internet to land on a computer without the owner's knowledge, but that it also frequently happens.

Riddet wants Carney to suppress the evidence and dismiss the case. "The FBI's internal documentation of its relationship with its informants and the correspondence between the FBI and its informants suggest a joint venture to ferret out child porn," he told the judge on March 1. "Accordingly, Geek Squad City (GSC) is a government entity and its employees' searches are warrantless government searches in violation of the Fourth Amendment. . . . There was a total of eight FBI informants in GSC's data-recovery department at various times."

Carney faces what could be a monumental ruling with nationwide implications. This Republican judge and former UCLA football player has been known to ridicule law-enforcement tactics when he considers them unethical. If he doesn't accept Riddet's stance and tolerates the government's already documented abuses, a trial is tentatively scheduled to begin on June 6 in Santa Ana.

http://www.ocweekly.com/news/fbi-used-b ... ce-7950030
The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws. - Tacitus, Roman senator and historian (A.D. c.56-c.115)

The Government is the People, by the People, just not ---- YOU People. - Unknown

When neither their property nor their honor is touched, the majority of men live content. - Niccolo Machiavelli

The old police motto of TOprotect and servehas been replaced with YOU "comply or die.”

Better ten innocent Sheeple in jail than one guilty Person on the street! Blue Wall Of Modus Operandi
User avatar
Shuftin
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