Geek Squad lawsuit opens up with employee confession

Posted by Mark Raby

Minneapolis (MN) - As a high-profile lawsuit against Best Buy's Geek Squad technical support service gets ready for court, a new employee confession has come through detailing one of the company's more questionable policies.

The lawsuit, filed in Hennepin County, Minnesota, claims that when a computer comes into a Geek Squad center, the employees comb through personal files and sometimes copy lewd or other content over to their own personal flash drive.

According to Minneapolis newspaper The Star Tribune, the lawsuit was filed quickly after an anonymous employee sent a letter to online consumer advocate site The Consumerist.  In the letter, the employee wrote, "If you have any interesting pictures of yourself or others on your computer, then they -- will -- be -- found."

Geek Squad says it takes "reasonable precautions to protect against the loss, misuse and unauthorized access of your personal information."

Geek Squad, which is the self-claimed largest computer support company in the country, downplayed the event by saying it was an isolated incident.  However, a new employee has come forward confessing a similar action.

William Giffels came forward and said he sought out revealing pictures of a customer who brought in a computer for repairs.  He copied the pictures to his flash drive, and then were copied to multiple CDs used in the Geek Squad department of the store.

"It was dumb, and I regret that lapse in judgment. I have placed Best Buy in a precarious position, both legally and 'reputationally,'" said Giffels.  Several other people claiming to be Geek Squad employees have quietly admitted to doing the same kind of thing.

Best Buy says it has increased the number of audits it conducts at its Geek Squad locations, but advocates suggest the store needs to completely overhaul its operation.  "No matter what investigative protocol Best Buy uses, someone is going to find a way around it," said Consumerist editor Ben Popken to the Star Tribune.

With regard to controversy, though, Best Buy remains defensive.  "Our agents only see the data they need to," said Best Buy spokesperson Paula Baldwin.