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Consumerist Catches Geek Squad Stealing Porn

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the downside-of-a-hired-gun dept.

Businesses 686

mekane8 writes "Consumer-advocate blog Consumerist ran a sting operation to catch a Best Buy Geek Squad member searching for and stealing media files from a customer's computer. The article includes the story with screen captures and a video of the technician's actions. From that piece: 'Reached for comment, Geek Squad CEO Robert Stephens expressed desire to launch an internal investigation and said, "If this is true, it's an isolated incident and grounds for termination of the Agent involved." This is not just an isolated incident, according to reports from Geek Squad insiders alleging that Geek Squad techs are stealing porn, images, and music from customer's computers in California, Texas, New Jersey, Virginia and elsewhere. Our sources say that some Geek Squad locations have a common computer set up where everyone dumps their plunder to share with the other technicians.' A related story from a former Geek Squad employee details the decline of the Geek Squad and Best Buy ethics in general."

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686 comments

The decline of ethics????? (5, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772443)

Are you kidding me? You expect these people, who are the low-paid,
bottom-of-the-IT-food-chain to have ethics? Why are they any different
from a parking lot attendant or car wash guy? Because they're techies?
Don't kid yourself.

Heck, at two companies I've worked for (both big-name, publicly traded),
they've caught (and fired) one or more sysadmins reading other people's
email.

Sadly, The Ethical IT Guy is on the verge of becoming a quaint holdover
from the previous century.

Encrypt it, or lose it.

Re:The decline of ethics????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772563)

I do believe this is one of the signs of the apocalypse.
Didn't Nostradamus predict that the sign post marking the decline of civilization would be black and white beetles?

Re:The decline of ethics????? (5, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772633)

Are you kidding me? You expect these people, who are the low-paid,
bottom-of-the-IT-food-chain to have ethics? Why are they any different
from a parking lot attendant or car wash guy? Because they're techies?
Don't kid yourself.

All persons should aspire to live their lives ethically. Rather than have those who do be the exception, it ought to be that those that don't are the exception.

Re:The decline of ethics????? (0, Troll)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772921)

But who gets to define what is ethical or not? Ethics are like morals, they are somewhat relative and there are a lot of 'grey areas'.

Then there is "entrapment". (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772925)

Yes, ideally, all people should aspire to live their lives ethically.

Now, in this specific case, the computer had a picture of three cute girls. The "geek" checked where that picture was and downloaded the entire folder labeled "out clubbin!!!".

Living ethically is a lot easier when someone isn't deliberately setting you up.

Re:The decline of ethics????? (4, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772681)

I don't expect the car lot attendant to take my car for joyrides or the carwash guy (if you mean detailer) to steal whatever he finds inside.

It's not to say that it doesn't happen, but we don't have to pretend they are doing an ethical or good job.

BTW, I am an ethical IT guy. I don't want to see other people's stuff. I don't look for it either. But some people are so sloppy with their computers they do the equivalent of leaving porno mags or money in the driver's seat. Even then, I really don't care, as long as it isn't something clearly illegal which would put me in a bind I never wanted to be in. I don't think I'm rare. You are correct, you just won't be finding me working for Best Buy or other bottom of the barrel job. But I would imagine that there are enough ethical people starting out in such a job.

Re:The decline of ethics????? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772701)

It would be redundant now to express my comments which more or less mirror your own. I would like to add that big business has, more or less, brought this upon themselves. There was a time when real technicians existed... before the Dot-COM boom, before the mid-day "computer training/career" ads aired (while unemployment in the tech sector was at an all-time high), before IT careers were relegated to the level of janitor, before outsourcing...

There are truly very few people who are naturally inclined to the field and the kind of thinking that makes one 'talented' in the work. Now the field exists as a bunch of screwdriver wielding monkeys working for nearly minimum wage with no real talent.

Ethics are for those who take pride in their work, skill and ability. Big business thinks they can buy those people for cheap. I'm still waiting for them to realize how wrong they are and what a mistake all that outsourcing is.

Re:The decline of ethics????? (0)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772777)

Are you kidding me? You expect these people, who are the low-paid, bottom-of-the-IT-food-chain to have ethics? Why are they any different from a parking lot attendant or car wash guy?

Given the opportunities for misconduct that valet parkers, low-level IT techs, waiters, cleaning people and others have, the number of times they take advantage is astonishingly low. They may make less money than 1337 PHP developers, but there's no reason to question their ethics.

I frequently bitch about those IT guys, who all think they're Alan Turing when they have maybe a 50% chance of not making my computer worse. But their integrity in the face of temptation is almost always excellent, and it's not like most of them have any idea how to cover their tracks.

Re:The decline of ethics????? (2, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772811)

What does being low paid or at the bottom of a social class have to do with acting morally? Are you saying its ok for poor people to steal, lie and cheat?

Re:The decline of ethics????? (1, Informative)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772883)

What does being low paid or at the bottom of a social class have to do with acting morally? Are you saying its ok for poor people to steal, lie and cheat?

People who understand game theory tend to get ahead. Those who don't work at Geek Squad.

Re:The decline of ethics????? (2, Insightful)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772851)

Must be stealing articles from digg.com. This is yesterday's news there.

Anyway, complain about the big guys. The little guy is always tempted, but when the big guy does this shit you shut up.

Remember when the CEO of Seagate said something about regretting making all these high capacity HDDs only to find that they are being used to store all this pirated content?

Well, how on earth do you think he knew the content was there? His people are violating customer privacy by examining the contents of the drives. Can you imagine finding racy pictures of your wife or girl friend on the internet from these guys stealing your photos off crashed hard drives?

You should be seriously considering the big guys not some geek that steals some porn. Talk about a tempting situation. That's like putting a steak on the floor in front of a dog and expecting the dog to have self control and not eat it.

Re:The decline of ethics????? (2, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772871)

Are you kidding me? You expect these people, who are the low-paid,
bottom-of-the-IT-food-chain to have ethics? Why are they any different
from a parking lot attendant or car wash guy? Because they're techies?
Don't kid yourself.


Is this sort of like a geek defending other geeks here? Everyone jumping to support poor little underpaid geeks in GeekSquad.
So the thing you lack most when you're underpaid, is actually porn, and they were FORCED, FORCED I tell you, to obtain it from the hard drives of their clients.

Reached for comment, Geek Squad CEO Robert Stephens expressed desire to launch an internal investigation and said, "If this is true, it's an isolated incident and grounds for termination of the Agent involved.

What a monster! If he was a reasonable guy, he'd apologize to the guy and promise the whole team a regular supply of porn for everyone, free of charge.

They also gotta do something about that collection of credit cards, logins and certificates GeekSquad is collecting on another server.
So, yea.. wait... wait a minute, did he say "termination of the Agent"? Shit, screw it. Go for it, but definitely make a video first, that should be cool to see (I hope they use some sort of built-in explosive, like in Mission Impossible).

Re:The decline of ethics????? (2, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772911)

Heck, at two companies I've worked for (both big-name, publicly traded),
they've caught (and fired) one or more sysadmins reading other people's
email.


Huh? Where I'm at we have a specific person (used to be me, but I moved to a different position now) who is specifically SUPPOSED to go through all sorts of emails that get stuck aside for containing any "trigger words".

As to Encrypt it, or lose it. our system would scan for user-level encryption on any outgoing messages and spits them back to the sender. It's considered a security risk (legal and technical) if the message can't be observed by the system and staff, so they are rejected.

Don't be the anti-spam guy (2, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772913)

Heck, at two companies I've worked for (both big-name, publicly traded),
they've caught (and fired) one or more sysadmins reading other people's
email.


Typically the guys charged with, "get rid of this SPAM in my InBox!". Yep, I've seen it first-hand, when they don't like the anti-spam guy they go after him for 'reading other people's e-mail'.

Re:The decline of ethics????? (1)

ToastyKen (10169) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772969)

You expect these people, who are the low-paid, bottom-of-the-IT-food-chain to have ethics? Why are they any different from a parking lot attendant or car wash guy?

That's a terribly classist thing to say. Why do you assume that poor people have a lower standard of moral fiber?

Well, OK (5, Interesting)

blaster151 (874280) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772457)

It's hard for me to get worked up about this.

I doubt that these guys are obtaining and distributing files that couldn't be obtained for free using a good BitTorrent client (albeit also illegally). I mean, sure, most managerial types agree that you shouldn't do that stuff at work, but aside from the misuse of on-the-clock time, is it much different than a bunch of college roommates using a shared network directory for their downloads?

Stealing homemade sex videos and that sort of thing from customers' computers is another matter. That would be a pretty major invasion of privacy and should be grounds for substantial, per-case lawsuits. I suppose it would be hard for a corporate overseer to distinguish between "legit" and privately owned media in that situation.

Home videos? Private diaries? Love letters? Stay out, Geek. But "media" . . . as a customer, what have I lost, exactly? To be honest, I'd rather have a competent technician solve my configuration problems and help himself to my MP3 directory than have to waste time with ignorant first-level servicepeople in a tightly overseen, "theft-free" big-box environment.

Re:Well, OK (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772537)

So stealing homemade movies is an invasion of privacy, but prowling through everything to find them in the first place isn't. Got it.

Re:Well, OK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772597)

I'm sure part of the fun was the "thrill" of getting files off of someone else's computer without them knowing, being able to associate them with a type of music (or porn) rather than just anonymously getting it on P2P.

I'm also sure that they would've taken homemade sex vids if they could find them, but I imagine most people who record that, and need the services of the Best Buy Geek Squad, still fuck on camcorder the old fashioned way.

Re:Well, OK (1)

MaizeMan (1076255) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772631)

I agree. There is a large distinction between copying files unique to you or your computer, and media files that reside on both your computer and thousands of others. In all likelyhood, any techie is much more interested in your torrent of Transformers than that essay on neo-colonialism in Sri Lanka that you wrote back in college and never got around to deleting. The only time I can think of when that might not hold true is if you really did have your own home made sex videos, in which case I suggest you follow the first rule of letting other people use your computer: KEEP YOUR PORN ON REMOVABLE MEDIA!!!

Re:Well, OK (1)

mastergoon (648848) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772895)

Maybe if you had actually RTFA you would have noticed that they were taking personal vacation photos and other data, not just porn?

Not stealing, copyright infringement (1, Flamebait)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772465)

Or, is it the case that the rules change if its a group you don't like?

Ie; whites scavenge in an emergency, niggers "loot".

Exactly. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772725)

My favorite video of all time is of some nigger stealing a fucking Power Wheels toy from Walmart following hurricane Katrina. I still chuckle every time I see it.

Linus is right (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772493)

I am with Linus on this one.

Whoa... whatever happened to 'it's not stealing' (3, Insightful)

CajunArson (465943) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772529)

Hold on, my hypocrisy meter just went red.....
    If this was any of you guys downloading stuff off Bittorrent all we'd here is "It's NOT STEALING WAAHH!!!"
However, now if the guys at GeekSquad do the exact same thing it's now 'stealing'....
So what you are saying is that if I get something from Bittorrent over my comparatively slow link that's not stealing, but being efficient about it (which these guys seem to be) is now 'stealing'. Check.

    Oh, and don't even try that: 'But on Bittorrent it's OK since I have permission' bit with me, unless you yourself made the content (and for the love of God I hope it ain't Porn), your 'permission' is about as relevant as me giving you 'permission' to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.

Re:Whoa... whatever happened to 'it's not stealing (5, Interesting)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772613)

I more or less agree with you... however, the one difference is the invasion of privacy aspect. Like you say, who knows if those video files are porn, home videos, secret business files, whatever.

Re:Whoa... whatever happened to 'it's not stealing (1)

cpirate (550051) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772845)

Unless the homemade sex video they steal is from a famous person, then they can sell it to Penthouse or other random porn company. I'm guessing everyone would be downloading it without worrying about invasion of privacy.

Re:Whoa... whatever happened to 'it's not stealing (1)

abb3w (696381) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772915)

Like you say, who knows if those video files are porn, home videos, secret business files, whatever.

You say that like those are different things [questionablecontent.net]. (And remember kiddies: removable external storage for your pr0n collection.)

Re:Whoa... whatever happened to 'it's not stealing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772637)

You're right, it's not stealing, I think it was a bad choice of words. But it is invasion of privacy.

Re:Whoa... whatever happened to 'it's not stealing (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772649)

The issue isn't GS guys stealing a customer's porn. It's the tech stealing the customer's HOME MADE porn.
Like pictures of the customer and his gf getting it on, for example.

That's quite a bit different.

Re:Whoa... whatever happened to 'it's not stealing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772679)

How do you know the people who think this was wrong and people who download off Bittorrent are the same people?

Re:Whoa... whatever happened to 'it's not stealing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772715)

It's not stealing. It certainly may not be professional, but it isn't stealing. The article would like to make it a big deal because they're violating the trust of the paid customer, blah blah blah...but it still isn't stealing.

Although if they were really nice, they'd load it back onto the customer's drive after they reformat and reinstall.

Re:Whoa... whatever happened to 'it's not stealing (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772717)

However, now if the guys at GeekSquad do the exact same thing it's now 'stealing'....

Wtf? It's Consumerist that's calling it "stealing" (and yes, I would call that "copying", not "stealing"). How the fuck is it "hypocrisy" when entirely different people say different things?

I really don't get the people on the "copyright infringement is stealing" bandwagon - why don't we also start calling both rape and murder "arson", what's the difference, they are all bad, right?

Re:Whoa... whatever happened to 'it's not stealing (1)

doombringerltx (1109389) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772785)

Its hypocrisy because consumerist is anti-RIAA. They were the ones who did the "Worst Company in America" in which the RIAA won (or lost, depending on how you look at it) and have fairly regular anti-RIAA updates

Re:Whoa... whatever happened to 'it's not stealing (0, Flamebait)

clubhi (1086577) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772723)

Dear Stupid, You are mixing two different issues here. You see, you have your copyright crap over here... and then you got your privacy crap over here... lets keep our crap separate for argument sake.

Re:Whoa... whatever happened to 'it's not stealing (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772727)

It's not stealing. If they're making a copy and keeping it for themselves, how does that prevent me from using my copy.

This is akin to me taking a book with a broken spine into be repaired and having the repairman make a photocopy of my book but then return it to me in good condition. Why would I care if he's got a copy? Unless, of course, it's my personal diary, but then it's kind of my fault for not encrypting it in the first place. How would he know he wasn't supposed to look at it if I didn't put something there to tell him?

Re:Whoa... whatever happened to 'it's not stealing (4, Insightful)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772755)

Maybe there's a level below -1, but I don't see any whining posts.

If someone wants to copy my \music\mp3 directory, more power to them. But, as another person posted, if they go into my \documents\creative_writing I'd be a bit ticked. I'll admit that. Mostly because unlike the music directory, none of the stuff in there is for public consumption. Also, the mp3 directory is 100% reproducible from public networks. It's already out there. Them taking a copy of all my mp3s is just a way for them to save time and bandwidth. My personal files, on the other hand, aren't.

Of course, as a use case this isn't likely, because I wouldn't buy a computer from Best Buy, let alone entrust them with repairing my box. (And of course, I can fix my own damn computer, so...)

This isn't a matter of stealing or copyright or anything like that. It's an invasion of privacy. Best Buy is giving you a contract (both social and written) saying that they respect you private data, and that you can trust them. If their employees root around in stuff they shouldn't, that's a breach of privacy.

Plus, it's a chance to lay down a strawman beat on Best Buy, and who wants to pass up that opportunity?

Re:Whoa... whatever happened to 'it's not stealing (1)

dslauson (914147) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772873)

So, stealing is not a good word for it, but it's certainly an invasion of privacy, and it's certainly unethical. We're not talking about a mere copyright violation like downloading music or movies. We're talking about people rifling through your files without your permission.

I don't think you're going to hear people on slashdot complaining about damages to the (RI|MP)AA. This is about the individual, whose rights are being trampled upon.

Re:Whoa... whatever happened to 'it's not stealing (1)

Doug-W (165055) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772907)

Actually isn't it stealing?

They make a copy of it for themselves. Then they wipe the drive and reinstall the OS as part of their 'fix'.

You are denied it and they have it, how is that not stealing?

Re:Whoa... whatever happened to 'it's not stealing (2, Insightful)

Control Group (105494) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772917)

No. In fact, I haven't seen a single post saying that (note: I'm browsing at +2, so I may have missed some). Moreover, I've seen several posts (like this one) reiterating that it isn't stealing.

So, frankly, I think your hypocrisy meter needs recalibration. Or are you calling it hypocrisy because Consumerist calls it stealing, while Slashdot (often, perhaps even generally) doesn't? 'Cause that strikes me as a sort of weird definition of hypocrisy. I mean, I wouldn't normally call my boss hypocritical for not giving me a raise when my wife thinks I deserve one.

For the record: copyright infringement isn't stealing, though it may be unethical. Copying people's porn stashes off their hard drives isn't stealing, though it may be unethical (due primarily to the - naive - presumption of privacy that consumers likely have).

well duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772535)

If you allow someone unsupervised access to your house they will eat your food.
If you allow someone unsupervised access to your computer they will copy your porn.

geek squad != professionals (2, Informative)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772541)

Geek Squad/Best Buy employees are no different than walmart employees, and it doesn't require any more IT knowledge than a wallmart janitor would need to get the job. When I work at "the Buy" I remember the *procedure* for fixing a computer was reformat and reload. These aren't professionals and, while what happened was wrong, it shouldn't surprise anyone.

Re:geek squad != professionals (2, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772951)

Geek Squad/Best Buy employees are no different than walmart employees, and it doesn't require any more IT knowledge than a wallmart janitor would need to get the job. When I work at "the Buy" I remember the *procedure* for fixing a computer was reformat and reload. These aren't professionals and, while what happened was wrong, it shouldn't surprise anyone.

Oh COME ON, man! Get a grip on reality. Have you seen their ads? These guys are practically superheroes. In fact, make sure you take out all kryptonite out your PC tower case before handling it to a GeekSquad agent.

But... but... but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772549)

...I thought it was only copyright infringement and not stealing if you're only copying data and not taking anything away from the original owner?

Messing with the wrong customer (1)

drmarcj (807884) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772557)

Hey, isn't that a picture of the Geek Squad dude with Paulie Walnuts in that second link? That's just about the last guy I'd want to get caught stealing pron from...

Re:Messing with the wrong customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772677)

Ha ha ha...Paulie Walnuts!!!

old news. (0, Offtopic)

CraniumDesigns (1113153) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772561)

i heard about this months ago. SD's just NOW posting it? sad.

SD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772667)

You must be new to /.

Re:old news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772747)

Like many slashdot stories, it was on Digg yesterday. That's OK, the comments are much more on topic and insightful/interesting/informative (I am *Not* joking; you learn a lot here) here so its all good that it isn't the newest news in the world.

That must be how... (3, Funny)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772573)

That must be how they always catch the child porn guys that are having their computer worked on. A technician always "just accidently discovers" it.

I'd be more pissed off if they DIDN'T do it. (3, Funny)

Leptok (1096623) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772579)

Goddamn, I want geeks to fix my computer, and any "technician" who DIDN'T do it must not be a geek to begin with.

Decline? (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772583)

A related story from a former Geek Squad employee details the decline of the Geek Squad and Best Buy ethics in general."

Ever since Best Buy opened here locally a few years ago, they've been on my crap list. Their handling of extended warranties is shady, their salesmen tend to be pushy, and their prices are high. Their "intranet" fiasco is more icing on the cake - I've long made it a point to avoid Best Buy!

So, when I want service, I go local. When I'm buying cheap hardware, I go to Circuit City or Office Depot.

Not just an isolated incident. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772607)

I quit working for the Geek Squad about 8 months ago, and have since quit the IT field altogether, but I can safely say this was not an isolated incident. It was a common occurrence, at multiple locations I had worked at, to copy customer files onto flash drives or even burn them onto CDs. We also did have a computer set up at the store's expense for the sole purpose of caching whole copies of customer hard drives for "archival" if they purchased a data backup. (It was helpful as sometimes the customers would destroy the DVDs we burned for them and we were able to give them another set, but it was also routinely plundered with searches for *.jpg and so forth.)

This wasn't something I ever did, mainly because I had my own pornography to look at and never came across anything even remotely interesting in any other way, but other "Agents" would do it on a routine basis.

Thoughts from the TGIFA part of my brain (5, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772611)

Oh, FFS. It's not stealing, it's illegal filesharing.

I, for one, sympathize with the perps here. Who would begrudge the Best Buy Geeksquad drudges some cheap thrills? Besides, if they're busy sharing porn, that makes it less likely they're doing something awful to the innards of Auntie Mae's PC... I would hope.

My real feeling on this, though, are that it's all part of Best Buy's sales model. They can get a lot of customers to purchase an additional 120-gig hard drive if it comes preloaded with porn.

Also, did you notice they now sell tissues and lotion? It's all about synergistic product lines, folks.

Re:Thoughts from the TGIFA part of my brain (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772741)

Besides, if they're busy sharing porn, that makes it less likely they're doing something awful to the innards of Auntie Mae's PC...

God forbid if one of those poor bastards saw Aunt May naked! Vomit in the PC, for example.

Not stealing (0, Redundant)

sacrilicious (316896) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772615)

searching for and stealing media files from a customer's computer

I'm not sympathizing or condemning, and it's beside the point, but: copying files is NOT stealing. It may be illicit, illegal, immoral, or any of a number of other things that people other than me can debate. But it's not stealing. Stealing would be if they copied the files and erased them off of the hard drives, thereby depriving the hardware owners of the data.

Re:Not stealing - in this case it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772825)

- The writer indicated that the drives were wiped and reformatted. Obviously the files weren't taken after wiping/reformatting. So, in sequence, the tech gets the PC, finds & copies the files, wipes the drive (deleting the files) and reinstalls windows. Ergo, the files moved off of the PC on to the tech's USB drive (and were no longer on the PC). By the consensus definition, that's stealing.
- I'd agree with the points about copyright infringment, if the files were restored to the PC. However, the article didn't indicate any personal file restoration.

Re:Not stealing (1)

imgunby (705676) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772855)

You're right, it's not stealing... It's "copyright infringement" if it's only their homemade movies. But then there's the whole invasion of privacy thing. Strangely, I almost hope the RIAA takes in interest in their unlawful copying of mp3's, and the MPAA for the movies. Plus. you'd think that management would take a real interest in this since their chances of coming across images that might not be "legal" increases dramatically when pulling of personal machines instead of directly from the web.

So what? (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772623)

First of all, they're copying your porn. Not steeling it. And second of all, who cares? How is he hurting anyone by making a copy of your porn? And if it's porn that you are personally starring in or other personal information, why aren't you putting that somewhere else before letting someone on your computer?

Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772627)

This isn't new. How do you think computer tech's have the biggest music collections? They been doing it for years..

And what's wrong with that? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772629)

Does not information want to be free? It is not stealing, is it? Therefor it must be Ok.

Or are we all despicable **AA shills now?

Or do we hate Best Buy more, than we hate **AA?

Re:And what's wrong with that? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772781)

Yeah, you are right it's not technically stealing.

But it sure as hell is invasion of privacy. Not all of the files that the guy is copying are necessarily commercial in nature - there might be racy pictures of he and his girlfriend, for instance.

Wow! (1)

m0nkyman (7101) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772659)

Colour me shocked. A techie copying porn off of a computer.

That's never happened before. :rolleyes:

Now, if they're deleting it after copying it, then it's stealing, and that'd be news.

I've done it. (5, Interesting)

BKX (5066) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772683)

I ran a computer repair shop (note that I said "ran" not "worked at"), and this practice of "stealing" porn, music and movies was practically company policy. In fact, that's pretty much all we did. Ninety percent of repairs went like this:

1) Backup customer data (read: customer's porn, music, movies and various documents. Occasionally saved games)
2) Copy over WinXP syspreped mini-image, wiping hard drive.
3) Fix partition table.
4) Run through XP mini-install.
5) Grab any straggler updates.
6) Copy back customer data.
7) Delete crap we don't care about from backup.
8) At the end of the day, copy porn, music and movies that don't suck to my laptop and clean the image/backup server.

(In case you didn't realize, 90% of repairs are people who got so much spyware and viruses that a wipe is just faster. Especially with the mini-image (which is just a copy of XP/2k, fully updated, with all the various media players and firefox, that's been syspreped and shrunk down to the minimum (with ntfsresize on Knoppix). On first boot, XP will auto resize the fs to the maximum if the fs is smaller than the partition.))

This was some time ago (read: long enough ago that the statute of limitations applies), but I see no reason that it doesn't still work like that. I mean, come on, it's faster than bittorrent.

Re:I've done it. (0, Flamebait)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772971)


This was some time ago (read: long enough ago that the statute of limitations applies)

The statute of limitations may have run out, but the statute of douchebaggery is quite a bit longer. Copying ANYTHING from someones computer and keeping it is just plain wrong in my view. I'm not even talking about copyright here, just general snooping and invasion of privacy.

Did they *steal* it? (1)

imag0 (605684) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772699)

...As in "removed it utterly from the system, with no hope of recovery" or as in "made a copy for themselves" sort of stealing that the RIAA likes to claim in court?

Hell, if it was good stuff, more power to them. If you're addled enough to send in a hard drive with your system for service, then you can expect someone will be plowing through it.

Imag0

Geek Squad Linked To Roswell (1)

HamsterRabies (1124759) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772721)

I heard that they are linking the porn and music togeather to create a network of insatiable media in order to cripple our society before the invasion of earth.

Give me a break- can anyone tell me why I give a f***?

On One Hand... (1)

LEX LETHAL (859141) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772737)

I can see the liabiliy and negative PR associated with this kind of activity. I can understand if it has become a festering problem and common knowledge that employees are violating customer trust.

On the other hand, not having a public policy that addresses the privacy of the contents of customer's computer or electronic device was a huge oversight. In fact, if there existed an employee "dumping ground" for pilfered items, where the existance of such can be traced back up the chain of command at Geek Squad will look really bad for upper management.

The end result is that the consumer should be warned beforehand not to turn over a computer or electronic device that has personal data.

Amateurs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772749)

Why the hell weren't they ghosting these boxes first and searching through the ghosted image? If you're gonna be spying on people, you should at least have the sense to prevent them spying on you.

IS Geek Squad Really Up Sell Squad? (1)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772751)

From my understanding, most of the problems that Geek Squad resolves can be solved by selling the consumer MORE stuff [techeblog.com]. e.g. (New Computer, Memory, Harddrive, Software). Geek Squad was probably a good concept when it started, but it appears economic pressures have pushed Best Buy into the GREED ZONE. [pressconnects.com] If only Walmart wouldn't have started selling those nice new high-margin LCD panels at cut-throat prices.

Oddly, I quit shopping at Best Buy for two reasons, 1) Lack of Product Knowledge in Salespeople, 2) The Loss Prevention Guy that stands at the door and makes you feel like a criminal when you enter and exit.

Not just geek squad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772753)

I used to work for a large company with its own IT department about 10 years ago and co-workers doing the software maintenance would find porn on peoples WORK computer while fixing it and share with the rest of us in IT. Some of it homemade (we assume these people borrowed work cameras to do it because this before everyone had a digital camera).

This can't be limited to just geek squad. I think its a safe bet to assume that if you bring your computer in for repair somewhere that people will dig around. If you make that assumption then you'll never get burned.

I haven't seen any pictures of my co-workers wives and girlfriends naked since I started working at places that contract out their desktop support =/

Protecting Citizens (1)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772759)

No they weren't!!! Best Buy was simply being paid by the RIAA to look for and document illegal copyrighted files on their customers' computers! They swear!

Bwahaa! (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772789)

You used "Best Buy" and "Ethics" in the same sentence! All the big consumer electronics stores suck, make no mistake, but Best Buy sucks a little bit more. They are outstanding in their suckitude. Whether it's their questionable advertising, the general low level of service in their stores, their insistence on signing you up for magazines you don't want when you pay with your credit card or their proclivity toward using rebates instead of discounts because they know most consumers will not bother to cash in the rebates, they suck. There's more sucking going on in Best Buy than you'd find in a Nevada Whorehouse! I wouldn't trust anyone working there to have any more of a sense of ethics than their corporate overlords do and I wouldn't trust their "Geek Squad" to have the technical know-how to turn my computer on, much less fix it!

Dumping (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772801)

Geek Squad techs are stealing porn... [and] have a common computer set up where everyone dumps their plunder

Hell yeah! Run a train on that fileserver!

Cuts both ways (2, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772803)

Insterestingly enough, a while back on that same blog, there was an article about how Geek Squad snooping around some customer's computer revealed he had child porn [consumerist.com].

While computer repair regulations don't exist like, say, auto repair regulations do, at the time I wondered if it would become compulsory for a computer repair shop to search and disclose child porn and similar because won't someone please think of the children.

If you have a safety deposit box at a bank, you're entrusting them not to open it while you're away and look at all the sparklies. If you take your clothes to a cleaner, you entrust them not to wear it out on the town ala. Seinfeld. If you get your car fixed, you entrust them not to wade through those papers in your glove compartment and snicker at that condom from 1974. I think it's a reasonable expectation that you'll have files not related to your problem remain unexamined.

Were it my repair shop, the first thing I'd think of is "wow, we're so not busy right now my employee has the time to search for goodies on client computers?"

Hosting providers another easy way (1)

HTMLSpinnr (531389) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772805)

When I worked for a managed hosting provider about 6-7 years ago who's legacy customers were permitted to run adult sites, it was trivial for anyone w/ the Admin or root passwords to "plunder" or bypass the authentication schemes to get to the content. Some admins also hosted their own stash of MP3's or other content based on what they had gleaned, freely available to most anyone else who worked there (there may have been simple password protection) - for streaming or downloading as anyone else pleased.

Less than ethical techs or admins probably consider it a "benefit" of the position, and probably assumed that the original "holder" of the content wouldn't care or mind sharing.

This is probably because many people I've run across in the IT field have a somewhat socialistic mentality toward freely accessible content (free for all), whether it be software (Warez), MP3s (original Napster and mp3.com, baby), or "free" pr0n. They may feel entitled to anything they can get their hands on in the due course of their job. This may be regardless of whether the current "holder" of the content (the consumer's PC or customer's server) is legally entitled to the copy or not. I would imagine that the Geek Squad employees also have a "well, everyone does it" mentality when justifying their own course of action, in addition to feeling that the customer simply won't care.

Chock it up to geek culture, and call it a day.

It's the home photos that are the problem (3, Insightful)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772813)

Look. Most comments aren't seeing the picture here. It's not the copying of some 3rd party pron that is the issue. It's the copying of private made at home pictures that are the concern.

I try not to post on stories like this, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19772819)

Not even gonna read the article. This is just completely stupid.

First... If Geek Squad employees wanted to get that sort of material, they'd probably do much better finding it for themselves on the net. The only advantage they have is finding personal photos that were never meant for distribution in the first place, or if they are really wily, using an IE password viewer to get a free ride on all sorts of sites (or bank accounts, or worse)....

Second... There is no conspiracy. Rather, in some ways, man is now more than ever a victim of circumstance, a discarded relic of the past. Women no longer need them to bring home iron-filled meat, are ravaging the horomones with birth control, and no longer need to nore desire to satisfy men sexually. Should anybody be surprised to find men desperately searching for any release they can get?

Not surprised at all honestly... (2, Interesting)

greymond (539980) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772823)

Over a decade ago when I used to work at CompUSA the tech department did the same thing. If someone brought in their system to be worked on, the tech goes through it and sees what the problem is. Along he way if the person has a collection of porn, music or videos that we found interesting for whatever reason we would always copy them over to our jazz drives or external hard drives.

Oh and if they had child porn - we'd call the police.

Geek Squad != IT (2, Informative)

blhack (921171) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772837)

Geek squad is on about the same level as the kid down the street. We have ALL done that, some family friend, or neighbor, or whatever needs their computer fixed, so we fix it for them. How many of you have honestly worked on a neighbors computer without at least taking a look into ~\My Music\? It goes with the territory and people know it. You cannot honestly tell me that your average consumer takes their computer into the geek squad to have it fixed and expects that they are getting top level support. If you had a bunch of home made pr0n, or private pictures, videos, files, etc on your computer, don't hand it over to some mouth breathing idiot behind a geek squad counter.

Copying isn't theft (0, Redundant)

glindsey (73730) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772839)

This is always brought up when anybody mentions piracy or "stealing" MP3s, so I just have to point out that the Geek Squad employee isn't stealing anything. He is copying data off somebody's computer, private or not.

Stealing is (2, Insightful)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772841)

when you take something from someone and deprive them of it.

If someone makes copies of files they find on my PC, they are invading my privacy and that is bad. They are not stealing from me. I still have all my pictures.

If I have found that someone has invaded my privacy in this way, I will be unhappy but I should not accuse them of theft!

Look at the desktop (1)

ObiWanStevobi (1030352) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772847)

In the video, the desktop background of the computer is three girls in wet or see-through tee shirts. I'd say they are really baiting the guy. They probably had a hot chic in skimpy clothes drop the machine off to. Would he have searched for it with a different background, maybe not.

Personally, I have done some pretty tempting machines myself. Includind an aspiring model aquaintance that had nude pictures of herself on the desktop. I can't say that there isn't a voyueristic urge when fixing a PC. Although I have never taken files from someone's personal computer, I can't say that I don't find it understandable.

A work PC is a different story, the IT staff gathers and laughs at some of the stuff we find on work computers. Although it becomes a bit less fun when you have to confront the person about it.

Best Buy is skeevy. (2, Interesting)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772865)

I really dislike going into a Best Buy. I always get this dirty kind of feeling from 80% of the people who work their. They give the impression of being just scumbag salesmen that can't hide the fact they're scumbag salesmen. Geeksquad guys stealing porn is hardly surprising.

A few months ago I was looking at TVs, and the sales guy was this young kid who just oozed sleeze. (If you've ever met a bad sales guy you know what I mean). He was trying to push a certain TV. I went over to Circuit City a few blocks away to see if they had any better prices. I actually wound up buying the same model this BB salesguy was trying to sell me, but the CC guy didn't try to push too hard. He of course tried to upsell my on an HDTV, but he at least had the instincts to back off a little.

Recently I was at Best Buy because they had nice quality speakers really cheap. I checked the website price, and went to the store. The price at the store was higher than the website price, so I asked the sales guy. He went to a terminal, went to the INTERNAL website (the dodge I already knew about from a few lawsuits against BB for this deceptive practice), and proclaimed I was incorrect. Of course I complained and eventually got the website price.. but it left me feeling even more uneasy about how Best Buy isn't the most honest, or trustworthy retailer.

Oh, and don't forget about the racketeering [slashdot.org] lawsuit filed against Best Buy. Not so great a track record.

Nothing new here, move along. (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772875)

This has been happening ever since people brought PC's into a service shop. Once the box is in-house, it would be scoured for 'cool stuff', be it images, software, most anything. ( including copying of any disks the customer brought in, espcially before harddrives ). I bet even the FIRST computer in for repair got this treatment.

Not saying its right, but its nothing new at all.

I remember a case where a guy brought his PC in to have a new video card or something installed, the tech found kiddy porn all over his drive, reported it to the police and the guy got busted when he returned to get his computer. They searched his house afterwards ad got him for running a KP ring.

I always wondered about the tech that viewed it, since its illegal for a citizen to even view KP, did he commit a crime too? . And did he break some law by searching in the first place? It wasnt related to the 'repair' in the slightest.

Bwhaha (2, Informative)

Alari (181784) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772941)

When I worked for a huge non-chain computer store in Massachusetts, technicians would SCOUR every single computer which came in for service looking for porn. I think they had 100 gigs collected from dozens of customer's computers, back in the day when 100 gigs was a lot... Every other computer store / computer service place does the same thing. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE GUYS. THEY HAVE TESTICLES. OF COURSE they're going to hunt for porn.

To be honest, I'm surprised that this is a surprise to anyone. I think the average tech opinion on this is that if you have things you don't want others to see on your computer, you damn well better not mess it up to the point where you have to take it in for repair, or be smart enough to fix it yourself. (And yes, the majority of repairs are only necessary because people click the "OMG PRAWN!" banner ads and then wonder why they have popups and spyware on their system...)

Stealing? (0, Redundant)

phliar (87116) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772949)

Unethical, sure; but how is this stealing? It may be copyright infringement, but we don't even know that.

On the scale of ethical violations, this ranks somewhere around unauthorized eating of a grape in a supermarket (stealing!!!) and picking your nose in public.

Wasn't that one of their job perks? (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 6 years ago | (#19772981)

I feel sorry for those guys. I mean o.k. they get paid slightly over min. wage to rummage through others pieces of crap computers in an attempt to fix it. I've always assumed crap like this was their one job perk. Heck, Best Busy should just add some fine print into the Geek Squad's manifesto that says that basically yes they can and will do this at their will.

Before I work on a friend's or family member's computer, I make sure that they are aware that by default I'll be copying any porn, mp3s, warez, or anything else on their computer that I find interesting. If that doesn't scare them off, generally they don't have anything I'll find interesting on their computer anyway. I'd never let another slashdotter "fix" my computer. I do have a lot of files that slashdotters would find interesting.

Ethics? Since when does anyone around here believe any institution has a set of ethics? Individuals may have ethics, but entity's like corporations, governments, and schools don't. I can believe that any given slashdotter may have a set of ethics, but I don't believe that slashdot has any ethics.
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