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February 21, 2008

Computer Tech Repair Questionable Practices

For those individuals who may require "professional" help in restoring order on a wayward computer, consider the lesson of the Geek Squad staff who harvest porn from customer hard drives.  There's a sad story about this on the SFGate web site that is certainly less than flattering to the company.  It suggests a duplicitous attitude when it comes to this kind of material.  It is one thing to turn over evidence of child porn to the authorities.  It's another to copy legal files from a hard drive and pass them around the office like they were candy.  That seems to be what happened to a malfunctioning computer belonging to adult performer Jasmine Grey.  The story didn't come out until she died in a car crash.

The moral here is not whether porn is good or evil, but rather than when one turns over a machine to the Geek Squad, or presumably their equivalents, that there is no privacy guarantee.  The Geek Squad Privacy Policy covers information about marketing names and contact information, but says nothing about the contents of a computer drive.  That's tax returns, credit card numbers, health records, or any kind of personal data stored there.  One should not necessarily assume that these people are identity thieves.  At the same time, you never know who's looking at your private materials in the name of fixing your computer.  It could easily be some creep who calls over friends with a "lookie what I found" statement.  Just what anyone needs when your hard drive is in the hands of a third party.

Read the sordid (and they are) details here.

February 21, 2008 | Permalink


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