Best Buy, Mobile Klinik Techs Busted Creeping on Your Intimate Pics
In a recent investigation led by CBC’s Marketplace, technicians at several tech repair stores in Ontario, including Best Buy and Telus-owned Mobile Klinik, were caught accessing private data on customers’ devices.
The investigation involved dropping off smartphones and laptops at 20 different stores and monitoring the technicians’ activities through installed tracking software. Out of the 16 stores that were successfully recorded, technicians at nine accessed private data, including staged intimate photos (CBC hired models to take selfies with their face covered) and browser history.
“These results are frightening,” said Hassan Khan, associate professor in the school of computer science at the University of Guelph. “It’s looking through information, searching for data on users’ devices, copying data off the device… it’s as bad as it gets.”
The investigation revealed that one technician at a Mobile Klinik location in Woodbridge went as far as scrolling through the Facebook account on the device and looking through stored photos, including intimate selfies. In response, a Mobile Klinik spokesperson stated, “what happened in this instance is unacceptable,” and confirmed that the technician involved has been terminated.
At a Best Buy location in Markham, a technician browsed through several photo folders and even removed an intimate photo they had opened, effectively erasing any trace of the action. Best Buy did not provide a comment despite multiple attempts by Marketplace to reach them.
Canada Computers, another chain with 42 locations across Canada, also had technicians who viewed intimate photos. At the Markham location, a technician copied all the photos on a laptop onto their own USB key. In a statement, Canada Computers said that the incident was isolated and that the technician involved has been disciplined.
Former Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian called for a federal investigation into the findings, stating, “In this day and age, privacy can’t be an afterthought” for tech repair companies.
If you’re ever dropping off your devices that have your personal information, it’s best to either protect or lock down your info if you want your privacy kept intact. It’s easier said than done, however, especially if you drop your phone and the screen smashes.