Jan 10 2017

Ethical Tech

So you know I’m a computer tech, right? I mean I’ve been public enough about it.

Computers (and phones which are now mini hand-held computers) are incredibly personal, especially so when you are suddenly interrupted and don’t get the chance to cover your tracks. That you have a fetish for feet or period porn is really none of my business (look, all sex is icky and the human body, says my Doctor friend who would know, is entirely icky from guzzle to zatch).

I’m in private practice now (referal only) but I once had a job as a counter tech where I would shake my head, say “Looks like you have a mean virus here”, put up the longest, most boring diagnostic I could muster, and chat with you about nothing in particular until you wandered away and I could get back to work. At that point I’d unplug your machine, slap a work order on it (my private diagnostic), and stick it on the line. If you were really, really lucky you’d have it back within the week, more or less intact.

I’m not making this up. When the business folded I was one of the last people they fired because I was so good with the customers.

For me it was kind of a magical time because I got to hang out with a bunch of Geeks and Nerds all day, some of whom were weirder than others. I liked Chris, my game guy who would rip me a copy of whatever he was playing. John would slap a graphics card into every slot that would take one, hook up a 360 degree bank of monitors and play Flight Simulator all day (this is not exactly a waste, if you’ve ever done tech you know that there are long periods of waiting for the computer to do what you’ve told it to). Jim was a pervert and collected every scrap of porn from the client’s caches (not so hard to do if you know what you’re looking for) and burn CDs for the amusement of the sales people (they were horrible human beings, this was the least of their vices). Eric on the other hand took great delight in examining the same data set and narcing people out to their family, friends, and the cops.

I didn’t like Eric that much.

My attitude is- I don’t care. It’s all a big bunch of 1s and 0s to me and I always make a backup (2 for me, 1 for you since I like a belt AND suspenders and you have your own level of paranoia) because the LEAST amount of professionalism as a technician is to not screw things up more than they already are.

This actually takes a long time and I was getting paid for it while the business was failing and justifiably let go. Que sera, sera. I kind of miss it, though not Eric who was suddenly not there.

Not as good with the customers I guess.

Best Buy National Repair Techs Routinely Search Customer Devices, Act as “Paid Informers” for FBI
By Gaius Publius, Naked Capitalism
January 10, 2017

Did you know that Best Buy’s central computer repair facility — their so-called “Geek Squad” — contains at least three employees who are also regular informers for the FBI? And that these employees routinely search through computers and other devices that Best Buy customers send in for repair? And when they find something they think the FBI would be interested in, they turn over the information for rewards of up to $500?

That’s a sideline business you probably didn’t imagine existed — outside of the old Soviet Union or communist East Germany.

Note, as you read, the use of phrases like “FBI informant” and “paid FBI informant.” We’ll also look at other versions of this story. In all versions, Best Buy repair employees routinely search customers’ computers for information they can sell to the FBI, and get paid if the FBI wants the info.

In the FBI-centered versions, the Best Buy employees act on their own and get paid as “honest citizens,” as it were, merely offering tips, even though this practice seems to be routine. For the FBI, the fact that the same employees frequently offer tips for which they get paid doesn’t make them “paid informers” in the sense that a regular street snitch regularly sells tips to cops.

For the Best Buy customer in question, that’s a distinction without a difference. But you’ll see that distinction made in articles about this incident, depending on whose side the writer seems to favor.

This is an eager prosecutorial society; we really are a punishing bunch, we Americans. We’ve never left the world of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. So we give our police great latitude, allowing them to shoot and kill almost anyone for almost any reason, so long as the stated reason is in the form “I was afraid for my safety.” Our prosecutors have great latitude in putting as many of our fellows in prison as possible. Our judges routinely clear their court calendars using plea-bargained guilty verdicts sans trial. This is the American judicial system, and it looks nothing like Law and Order, which is mainly propaganda.

And we, the spectators, are happy as clams to see the guilty (and the innocent) tortured and punished — witness our entertainment and the many popular programs that vilify the unworthy, from Judge Judy and her ilk, to Jerry Springer knockoffs, to all of those Lockup-type programs (extremely popular, by the way) on MSNBC. We love to see the “wicked” get it, in media and in life, much more so than people in many other first-world countries do.

My advice? Someone who owes you $5 is a deadbeat. Someone who owes you $5 Million is a “valued customer”.

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