Wednesday in CE: Geek Squad Revealed to Have Decade Long Relationship with FBI
After filing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit last year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has confirmed that the FBI has paid Geek Squad employees to flag illegal material when people pay Best Buy to repair their computers. The relationship potentially circumvents computer owners’ Fourth Amendment rights.
This comes after the prosecution of a California doctor revealed the FBI's ties to a Best Buy Geek Squad computer repair facility. The smoking gun was Best Buy denied working with the FBI, but the EFF indicated that their relationship is even closer than just paid informants.
The documents released to EFF show that Best Buy officials have enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the agency for at least 10 years. For example, an FBI memo from September 2008 details how Best Buy hosted a meeting of the agency’s “Cyber Working Group” at the company’s Kentucky repair facility, says the EFF.
The memo and a related email show that Geek Squad employees also gave FBI officials a tour of the facility before their meeting and makes clear that the law enforcement agency’s Louisville Division “has maintained close liaison with the Geek Squad’s management in an effort to glean case initiations and to support the division’s Computer Intrusion and Cyber Crime programs.”
The EFF says that by paying informants, the agency is encouraging technicians to actively look for content. Case in point: the technician who called in the evidence for the California doctor's case reportedly found it in an unallocated space in his computer. That suggests that they didn't just stumble upon the evidence -- they used software with the intention of finding files that were already deleted. The EFF says the relationship between the agency and the retailer "potentially circumvents computer owners" Fourth Amendment rights, so it plans to it's planning to go after the other documents the feds failed to produce for the FOIA it filed.
Amazon Discounts Prime For Medicaid Customers
Amazon has announced an affordable alternative for qualifying Medicaid recipients, navigating it closer to a student price of $5.99 over the normal $10.99. Short of a price cut, the benefits will be exactly the same including two-day shipping and the full suite of Prime streaming content.
This also compliments Amazon's commitment to customers on government assistance. Launched in 2017, customers with a valid EBT card can get Amazon Prime for that same $5.99 per customer price. The umbrella of included programs includes Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC).
The play is two-fold for Amazon. For Medicaid customers, Amazon is hoping to bridge the gap for those that have trouble getting the care they need. Around half of Medicaid recipients are children under the age of 19, while disabled individuals and adults over the age of 65 – people who sometimes require extra assistance when out shopping – make up a bulk of the remaining enrollees, according to TechCrunch.
In its announcement of the new discount program, Amazon specifically highlighted stories that demonstrate how Prime is helping a variety of customers, from a retired military veteran and cancer survivor to a single mom in rural Missouri who has limited access to stores and a five-year-old with a genetic disorder who requires 24/7 care.
“He already has a lot to deal with and dislikes stores, so even eliminating a trip to the local store makes such a difference for him, and is easier on me. I love it,” the mom said.
Although not explicit from Amazon, this may also be a play to generate data as they begin breaking ground with Berkshire Hathway and JPMorgan on their own private health agency.