Trouble for Geek Squad Troubleshooters

MINNEAPOLIS – In light of recent complaints about invasion of privacy online, Best Buy has said it will increase supervision of its popular Geek Squad computer-repair technicians and launch an internal investigation.

In recent months, a spate of online allegations have accused Geek Squad and its agents of copying pornography, music and photos from customers' computers. Some bloggers have nicknamed the Geek Squad the "Peek Squad."

"We want to assure customers that their privacy is extremely important to us and we hold our employees to the highest standards of conduct," said company spokesperson Paula Baldwin. "We constantly monitor and review our agents' actions at the store level, the regional level and here at headquarters. As part of our normal quality-control procedures, we thoroughly investigate allegations and take swift, severe actions when appropriate."

Despite assurances from Best Buy, a former Geek Squad staffer has admitted his team stole personal data from porn starlet Jasmine Grey's computer and hacked her hard drive to obtain more when she took her laptop to the company for service. Grey was killed in a car accident a few days later. Four former and current Geek Squad technicians from three Best Buy stores told the Star Tribune they saw co-workers pull up customers' personal data and gather others to look. Three of the four technicians said colleagues copied customers' photos onto DVDs and USB drives.

"We cannot comment on the allegations made by individuals who are no longer employed by us," Baldwin said. "We take every effort to ensure that our employees know the proper protocols to follow, and our employees are reminded frequently that operating outside the rules is not tolerated."

Best Buy said the problems have been caused by rogue employees, though Robert Willett, Best Buy's chief information officer, said the company is exploring ways to increase the level of oversight in the Geek Squad's in-store work areas.