Newly released documents show that the FBI paid members of Best Buy’s computer and device repair service Geek Squad to pass on information about illegal materials found on customer machines.

The documents, released by the non-profit digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed last year after the FBI denied a request for records about its relationship with Geek Squad.

According to the document obtained by the EFF, the FBI has maintained a relationship with Geek Squad for at least 10 years and has cultivated informants within the consumer electronics repair unit who provide the law enforcement agency with tips on illegal activity.

The relationship was developed between the FBI’s Louisville division and employees within Geek Squad’s national repair facility in Brooks, Kentucky. The Washington Post previously reported at least eight Geek Squad employees were paid to provide information to the FBI.

One document revealed the FBI paid $500 to an informant for passing along information. It was the same amount listed as a payment made in the prosecution of a California man who was charged with possessing child abuse imagery after sending his computer to Best Buy for repairs.

According to the documents, the FBI aimed to maintain a “close liaison" with Geek Squad management, which the agency used to "glean case initiations and to support the division's Computer Intrusion and Cyber Crime programs.”

The EFF detailed how the relationship between the organizations worked: “The FBI agent would show up, review the images or video and determine whether they believe they are illegal content. After that, they would seize the hard drive or computer and send it to another FBI field office near where the owner of the device lived.”

Only after the device or hard drive was investigated by FBI agents at the bureau’s office would the law enforcement agency seek to obtain a warrant that would give them permission to search the device.

There are questions as to the legality of the information passed on to the FBI by Geek Squad informants. The EFF has previously argued that because the Geek Squad employees were acting as proxies for the FBI, the searches should be considered warrantless and “any evidence obtained as a result of the illegal searches should be thrown out of court."

The FBI has not commented on the documents. A spokesperson for Best Buy provided the following comment to ZDNet:

"s we said more than a year ago, our Geek Squad repair employees discover what appears to be child pornography on customers' computers nearly 100 times a year. Our employees do not search for this material; they inadvertently discover it when attempting to confirm we have recovered lost customer data.

We have a moral and, in more than 20 states, a legal obligation to report these findings to law enforcement. We share this policy with our customers in writing before we begin any repair.

As a company, we have not sought or received training from law enforcement in how to search for child pornography. Our policies prohibit employees from doing anything other than what is necessary to solve the customer's problem. In the wake of these allegations, we have redoubled our efforts to train employees on what to do -- and not do -- in these circumstances.

We have learned that four employees may have received payment after turning over alleged child pornography to the FBI. Any decision to accept payment was in very poor judgement and inconsistent with our training and policies. Three of these employees are no longer with the company and the fourth has been reprimanded and reassigned.