A new court case has many people questioning a relationship between the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Best Buy.
It should not come as a surprise that the FBI has a number of paid informants. But, what is surprising is that the FBI has paid informants working at Best Buy.
In the case United States of America v. Mark A. Rettenmaier, Rettenmaier, who is a California physician and surgeon, dropped off his HP Pavilion desktop computer at a Mission Viejo Best Buy’s Geek Squad.
According to Federal court documents, Geek Squad technician John Trey Westphal was an FBI informant and reportedly found child pornography on a Rettenmaier’s computer. Westphal told his boss, another FBI informant, who alerted another coworker, who was also an FBI informant. Ultimately, they shared those photos with FBI agent Tracey Riley, who seized the hard drive.
While, this sounds like a traditional act of heroism to stop child pornography from spreading across the Internet, it is important to highlight that those three individuals were actually paid informants for the FBI. In fact, it was reported that one supervisor was paid $500 for their involvement.
According to a Washington Post report, Best Buy and the FBI did not force employees to actively search for child porn on behalf of the government agency instead, if an employee discovers illegal content to report it to the FBI. However, the defendant in this case claims that the FBI’s involvement actually encouraged Best Boy employees to search computers for illegal content.
Jeff Shelman, a spokesman for Best Buy, issued a statement yesterday saying the company and Geek Squad does not have a relationship with the FBI. However, if a repair agents discovers child pornography, then Shelman argues that the company has a “legal and moral obligation” to share that information with law enforcement. Shelman asserts that it is a policy they are proud of and something they share with their customers before any repair service.
With that being said, Shelman continued on by saying, “Any circumstances in which an employee received payment from the FBI is the result of extremely poor individual judgment, is not something we tolerate and is certainly not a part of our normal business behavior.”
Meanwhile, James D. Riddet, Rettenmaier’s defense attorney, argues that the relationship between the FBI and Best Buy is “so cozy” that “you run the risk that Best Buy is a branch of the FBI.”
With that being said, child pornography is the sexual exploitation of children. The Department of Justice reports that child pornography has exploded since more people started using the Internet. “The Internet provides ground for individuals to create, access, and share child sexual abuse images worldwide at the click of a button.”