Geek Squad more like Peek Squad, lawsuit charges

A woman whose boyfriend brought her computer into a Best Buy store to fix a virus problem alleges at least one technician spent some time perusing photos showing her in "positions demonstrating personal situations" while the computer was in the shop.

The suit, filed yesterday in US District Court in Boston by a Bristol, RI woman identified only as Mary Doe, seeks at least $2 million in redress for the humiliation and emotional distress she says she's suffered, which includes the fear the photos could show up on the Internet and that she be recognized either by the store worker or workers who saw them or by other people they might have shared the photos with. It's gotten so bad, the suit charges, she wants to move out of the area.

According to the suit, the woman's boyfriend brought the computer to the Mansfield Best Buy on Jan. 17 because the computer was having problems. The Geek Squad said that was due to a virus and he agreed to leave the computer there to have it removed and anti-virus software installed.

The lawsuit charges that when the boyfriend got the computer back on Jan. 20, he noticed some of the files had been accessed the day before - when the computer was still at the Best Buy - specifically between 9:24 and 10:46 a.m., which was after the time the suit says the Geek Squad informed him the virus problem had been fixed. The suit says there was no reason for anybody to look at the photos, especially after the requested work had been done, and that the way they were access suggests this was not the first time somebody at the store decided to seek out photos on a PC.

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      Comments

      Ok, what the Geek Squad tech did was wrong, but...

      By on

      1. Don't hand your computer to anyone without the expectation that 100% of your content will be snooped. Thats really just basic common sense.

      2. There is such a thing as encryption. Failing that, there are simple methods to block easy access, such as a zip file with a password. Minimum crack time for one of those is about 4 hours, a lot longer than a geek squad tech is going to spend.

      They have a basis for an invasion of privacy claim I guess, but the onus is on the consumer to protect their data before handing it over to those blue shirted twits. Tax returns? Email correspondence? All of that is out in the open.

      Also

      By on

      $2 Million is an idiotic sum for something like this. I hope she wins for a dollar and has to pay her own court costs.

      Right

      and you'd be the first to scream if they wired up your teen daughter's PC to transmit pictures over the internet at regular intervals - including from her bedroom when she was getting dressed for school.

      There are clear boundaries here. If these guys crossed them, they need to be held accountable. Snooping for non-job reasons is not a perk of the job.

      A school did that

      By on

      With school-issued laptops.

      Wired up so they could view kids through the cameras remotely on laptops kids took home. IIRC, suit mentioned that their kid was viewable when changing and sleeping.

      Such an event is more direct

      By on

      This is something where you have reason to file suit against the technician directly, and not Best Buy.

      Isn't doing credit checks, and background checks before employment supposed to weed out these types of individuals anyway?

      Do you think that is effective?

      Especially when hiring 20 year olds with no record of anything either way?

      As for your other assertion - who to sue - it really depends on how the contracting works. The employing organization is expected to exert reasonable supervision and enforcement of workforce and its policies. you can't just "localize" it to a particular technician so very easily.

      I feel it can be highly effective

      By on

      I also feel a fine establishment such as Best Buy doesn't want to invest in thorough background checks. Chances are, if you broke the law once you turned 18, you have a record. With the way banks were giving out credit cards for a while, there's also a good chance someone from 18 to 20 has some type of credit. Perhaps it's a high interest department store credit card, or a secured loan for an item such as a car.

      I myself much rather punish the people directly involved. As you've pointed out, it may be incredibly difficult to do.

      Except that the tech probably doesn't have

      By on

      $2 million lying around. But Best Buy - excuse me - Best Buy's insurance carrier - probably does.

      Those that have the deepest pockets are usually the ones who get sued in such instances, as opposed to the person (or people) directly responsible for the underlying actions.

      Isn't doing credit checks,

      By on

      Isn't doing credit checks, and background checks before employment supposed to weed out these types of individuals anyway?

      You're kidding, right?

      Another example of the Failure of the Fear Nation! :-/

      respondeat superior

      By on

      and as a result, Best Buy will settle (and try to hush this as much as possible).

      What?!?

      and you'd be the first to scream if they wired up your teen daughter's PC to transmit pictures over the internet at regular intervals - including from her bedroom when she was getting dressed for school.

      Are you talking to me?

      I would never hand a computer to the Geek Squad in the first

      By on

      place so its pretty damn unlikely that I'd have any cause to scream, darling. I will reiterate my point: anyone who gives them a computer with data should fully expect that data to be perused. If you do not like that, take steps. Step 1 might be going to a local repair shop with whom you have a valued relationship rather than this anti-virus installing, motherboard breaking, monitor losing sweat shop. Step 2 would be safeguarding your data with some sort of encryption. This isn't rocket science, nor will there be a math quiz at the end of it.

      Way to blame the victim

      By on

      If someone needs Geek Squad to get rid of a virus, and many people do, then why would you expect them to be able to manage disk encryption?

      And why should they expect that Geek Squad employees would go snooping through their underwear drawers? Maybe the computer owners had more decency than that, and it just didn't occur to them that a company charging a tidy sum for professional work would not have the same decency.

      I hope these people screw Geek Squad and Best Buy hard in the courts and in the news.

      If the victim hands a wallet full of money to a thief

      By on

      and the thief takes the money and hands back the wallet, I'm going to blame the victim. You need to be responsible for protecting yourself from theft or data loss or privacy intrusions. No one is going to do that for you, and that 20 year old kid at Best Buy sure as hell doesn't care. I'm not letting Best Buy off the hook because those actions were illegal and immoral. But it does not mean that the victim in this case was powerless to stop the problem, and therefore some of the responsibility lies on them.

      question

      By on

      When you hand your computer over to the Geek Squad is there any waiver or something signed that covers the geeks from liability or protects the contents of your hard drive as they work on the computer?

      People who bring their

      People who bring their computers to Best Buy to get rid of a virus are not going to be computer savvy, or have much idea what to be concerned about in the first place. That's why they have to trust someone else. To expect the average Geek Squad customer to use encryption is unreasonable.

      "Redress"?

      By on

      She should have done that before the pics were taken.

      What does it matter what

      By on

      What does it matter what color the dress was? It sounds like it was only decorating the floor.

      Pretty common practice

      By on

      Google around a bit. You'll find lots of Geek Squad and Best Buy people talking about snooping around on computers brought to them for service, copying personal sexy photos/videos to flash drives, etc. One store reportedly even had a server one of the employees set up that they copied all such personal files to.

      It happens in cellphone stores, too. I haven't heard much about it in Apple stores, though.

      You think most of these employees have maturity and decency about the privacy of others?

      I say, good for these people with the lawsuit, and maybe BB will try crack down on it. Some employees will still do it, since at those pay rates you can't get employees to do much of anything reliably, but it's a start.

      A little disturbing that some

      By on

      A little disturbing that some of the images in question were in a folder entitled, "Celebration for kids 2010"

      Don't have anything . . . .

      . . . to add about this peek at pics topic- but I've called Geek Squad twice before- and I guess they don't like money- because they never showed up.

      Hmm

      By on

      I find this funny to a degree. This has been going on for years in IT Land. It just goes with the terroritory that there's going to be some bad apples.

      BestBuy does do Credit, Background, and drug checks. Just because someone has good credit and a good background doesnt mean that they aren't a slime ball. Many IT people have integrity, most these days do not.

      And I'll be honest, the folks best buy hires are teenagers who are 'techies' and don't know better than not to do that. Most seasoned IT folks know that this sorta crap WILL cost you your job and more. (and most Season'd IT folks wouldnt work at GeekSquad anyways.. not for what they pay).

      But on the flip side this brings up the age old question.. what if these pictures were of child porn or something worse? What kind of liability does bestbuy have?