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Programmer Admits Stealing US Gov't Accounting Software Source Code 125

Posted by timothy
from the public-costs-should-create-public-goods dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from NetSecurity.org: "A Chinese computer programmer that was charged with stealing the source code of software developed by the U.S. Treasury Department pleaded guilty to the charge on Tuesday. The 33-year-old Bo Zhang, legally employed by a U.S. consulting firm contracted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, admitted that he took advantage of the access he had to the Government-wide Accounting and Reporting Program (GWA) in order to copy the code onto an external hard disk and take it home." Just such things make me think that the default setting for software created with public money should be released with source code anyhow, barring context-specific reasons that it shouldn't be.
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Programmer Admits Stealing US Gov't Accounting Software Source Code

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  • Interesting... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 31, 2012 @10:04AM (#40166807)

    A Chinese national who used to work at my company lifted our proprietary code and fled back to China as well.

  • Public domain? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Meneth (872868) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @10:14AM (#40166957)

    Normally, works of the US federal government are in the public domain, and not protected by copyright. How is this not the case here?

    On another note, Slashdot editors, please stop using the word "stealing" for immaterial right infringements.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 31, 2012 @10:35AM (#40167347)

    There's a reason why the Chinese are desperately grabbing all of the source code they can. They're deadly serious about offensive cyberwarfare, and starting to get good at it.

  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @10:38AM (#40167407)

    No, that he was Chinese, not American is why it made the front page. He's clearly part of the Chinese conspiracy to steal our IP, even though there is absolutely no mention that he sent the code back home to some Chinese corporation. In fact if they had proof of that I think he'd be facing a bit more than 1.5yrs, even with cooperation and you can bet your ass they looked. In this case his story makes sense, he's probably not the only person to do this.

    I'm not sure how many American engineers and developers make copies of the work that they did while an employee of some company, but I know the number is greater than 0. Almost none of them are using it for industrial espionage or in allegiance to some foreign power. But it is almost always against your employment agreement, and if caught you likely will be sued or worse.

    When the employer is the government, everything just gets escalated a few steps.

  • Re:mixed ownership (Score:4, Interesting)

    by icebike (68054) * on Thursday May 31, 2012 @10:52AM (#40167681)

    Exactly.

    And it doesn't have to be COTS stuff. I know a small company that developed a weather instrument monitoring package and sold thousands of executable-only versions, but one customer wanted a source license so they could modify it or recompile it for other platforms. He sold exactly one source license.

    Six months later a Google search revealed his entire source code on three different source code repositories, two of which were overseas.

     

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