Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Piracy Government United States

FBI Says It Will Hire No One Who Lies About Illegal Downloading 580

wabrandsma writes with this excerpt from The State Hornet, the student newspaper at Sacramento State On Monday, Sacramento State's Career Center welcomed the FBI for an informational on its paid internship program where applications are now being accepted. One of the highly discussed topics in the presentation was the list of potential traits that disqualify applicants. This list included failure to register with selective services, illegal drug use including steroids, criminal activity, default on student loans, falsifying information on an application and illegal downloading music, movies and books. FBI employee Steve Dupre explained how the FBI will ask people during interviews how many songs, movies and books they have downloaded because the FBI considers it to be stealing. During the first two phases of interviews, everything is recorded and then turned into a report. This report is then passed along to a polygraph technician to be used during the applicant's exam, which consists of a 55-page questionnaire. If an applicant is caught lying, they can no longer apply for an FBI agent position. (Left un-explored is whether polygraph testing is an effective way to catch lies.)
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FBI Says It Will Hire No One Who Lies About Illegal Downloading

Comments Filter:
  • by jsepeta ( 412566 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @06:21PM (#48116461) Homepage

    Hopefully at some point in time the FBI will realize that their mission shouldn't be to protect corporate rights, but to protect rights for the individual citizens.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 10, 2014 @06:25PM (#48116505)

      The FBI is a federal law enforcement agency. Their mission is to enforce federal law.

      • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @06:36PM (#48116587) Journal

        The only problem is that there is no federal law against downloading. There is about copying and distributing which whoever offers it for download would definitely be doing but no law against you downloading it. All the court cases you see about it stem from the illegal distribution.

        The article says "illegal" downloading. I wonder how many applicants will answer no because they never shared anything and be disqualified because their sweep of meta data indicated otherwise? I wonder how many will admit to illegally downloading who has not according to the letter of the law? And since it is a government employer, I wonder what the constitutional implications are if they have a trove of data which was meant to catch terrorist that they use in validating your eligibility for employment.

        • by lucm ( 889690 )

          The only problem is that there is no federal law against downloading. There is about copying and distributing which whoever offers it for download would definitely be doing but no law against you downloading it.

          If you use bittorrent, you are distributing while you download.

          • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @10:13PM (#48117659)

            If you use bittorrent, you are distributing while you download.

            Depends on whether you mean the client called "bittorrent", or the BitTorrent protocol.

            There's nothing in the protocol that says you "have to" upload in order to download. That's something that's built into most of the clients, on the reasoning that if nobody shares, there will be nothing to download.

            I disagree: people have shown themselves to be willing to share things regardless of any such rules.

            Further, the laws against "piracy", (which is NOT the same as downloading), were intended primarily to punish people who make bulk copies of copyrighted works and sell them for a profit. That's essentially what "copyright piracy" means. It's a legal term. And downloading doesn't qualify. Downloading isn't a "crime" at all. It's just a copyright violation. Piracy, on the other hand, is a crime.

            Some of the biggest differences are:

            [A] Almost all downloaders are doing it for personal use, not for profit. A reasonable penalty for that would be lost profits to the copyright holder (which is almost always far, far lower than the retail price), so for example copying a DVD might be a total loss of profits to the copyright holder of not more than about 50 cents. PLUS a "statutory penalty", which courts use to discourage such behavior. A rather large fine for creating a "loss of profit" of 50 cents might be 50 dollars... 100 times the actual damage.

            [B] A very big problem with that is that studies have been showing for over 15 years now that in the vast majority of cases of downloading, there never would have been a sale (or rental) in the first place. So even 50 cents "damage" to the copyright holder as in [A] is more theoretical than actual. Further, downloaders give the actual product free word-of-mouth advertising, further mitigating any "damage".

            It doesn't matter what the FBI "considers" downloading to be. THE LAW says it isn't a crime. And it sure as hell isn't "stealing". They are two very, very distinct areas of the law. When you steal from somebody, you deprive them of the use of the stolen item. When you copy a copyrighted work, you haven't deprived anyone of that work. Any "damage" is purely theoretical and must, logically, be tied to any lost profit from that particular copy.

            Statutory damages that were originally intended for bulk, profitable piracy are not appropriate for individual downloaders. At all. That whole mess was nothing but "crony capitalism" at work. And lots of people have suffered a lot, as a result.

            • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Saturday October 11, 2014 @02:08AM (#48118381) Homepage

              Further, the laws against "piracy", (which is NOT the same as downloading)

              There are no laws against "piracy" per se; rather there are laws against copyright infringement, which downloading commonly is.

              were intended primarily to punish people who make bulk copies of copyrighted works and sell them for a profit.

              The statute doesn't require infringement en masse, nor does it require selling them for a profit. Perhaps you'd like to read it? It's 17 USC 501. It refers to other sections, in particular 17 USC 106, and 101.

              That's essentially what "copyright piracy" means. It's a legal term.

              No it's not. The correct legal term would be copyright infringement.

              And downloading doesn't qualify. Downloading isn't a "crime" at all. It's just a copyright violation.

              No, any copyright infringement which meets the prerequisites of 17 USC 506 is a crime. For example, if you willfully download a work in an infringing manner, and that work has a retail value of over $1,000 (easily doable with certain computer programs), that's a criminal infringement.

              And it sure as hell isn't "stealing"

              This is the first, and perhaps only thing in your post that's correct.

          • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

            > If you use bittorrent, you are distributing while you download.

            You know that and I know that. Welcome to the 1%. Most other people don't realize that. HELL, a lot of church lady types don't even know that pirating stuff is even "immoral" or illegal or anything.

            Real life is funny that way.

        • It's based on a lie detector test. If they sincerely believe they did nothing wrong, there will be no stress for the lie detectors to pick up.

          And likewise, some people who feel really guilty about the issue may show stress.

          There will probably be some false positives too.

          So the FBI will end up hiring people who don't feel downloading is illegal and those who don't feel stress when lying.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by penguinoid ( 724646 )

        Their first mission is to protect the constitution, from all threats foreign or domestic. This includes the part of the Constitution where copyright is for "a limited time" and for the purpose of "promoting the progress of science and the useful arts". Maybe they should exclude from the hiring pool anyone who owns copyright for an absurd period of time, or who uses copyright or patents to prevent progress?

      • by NoKaOi ( 1415755 )

        The FBI is a federal law enforcement agency. Their mission is to enforce federal law.

        Not anymore. They changed it recently. The first part is to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foresight intelligence threats. The criminal justice part comes second.

        So what kind of people are they going to get? Any twenty-something who hasn't illegally downloaded music or movies probably fits into one of the following categories:
        1. Computer illiterate.
        2. Spoiled brat because their parents kept their iTunes gift card loaded all the way through high school and college.
        3. Too poor

    • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @06:26PM (#48116511)
      On the plus side, this will eventually make for a smaller FBI. :)
    • The government is working at this from the other angle. More the rights they eliminate the closer we come to having them 100% protected!

    • Hopefully at some point in time the FBI will realize that their mission shouldn't be to protect corporate rights, but to protect rights for the individual citizens.

      by which the geek means the citizen who can afford a computer, broadband Internet.

      pirating music, games, videos and other digital services and software is and always has been a middle class entitlement.

      individual rights mean damn little when you are "constitutionally" unable to work together to achieve your goals and protect your interests.

  • Polygraph (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thetagger ( 1057066 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @06:21PM (#48116463)

    The polygraph, along with IQ tests, are a very American forms of superstition.

    • Re:Polygraph (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 10, 2014 @06:40PM (#48116615)

      The polygraph, along with IQ tests, are a very American forms of superstition.

      Yeah, quite a few hipsters that got less than ideal IQs go out of their way at every opportunity to deride the single most precise intellectual measure known to man.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 10, 2014 @06:46PM (#48116643)
        If only it was accurate too.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        A multimeter which always reads zero is the most precise meter possible. Precision isn't accuracy.

        And Abrahamic God is the single most powerful myth known to man. Unique doesn't imply useful.

        My IQ is 142, my net earnings are ~$90k/year, my highest qualification is a PhD in mathematics, and you're an idiot.

      • Re:Polygraph (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @08:31PM (#48117273)

        What's an ideal IQ? 200? 500? The scale is open ended at the top, and even a perfect score on different tests equates to a different maximum.

          Plus, I'm pretty sure that your "less than ideal" would apply to some of the most brilliant people in history (James Clerk Maxwell, estimated IQ 115 (note that people who achieved something that applied to practical discipline, such as engineering or medicine, seldom did it nearly as early as precocious musicians and novelists, and so are always estimated lower unless the estimater includes a fudge factor. Mozart gets estimated much higher than Beethoven without that, because he started at 6, not 22. The way the fudge factor is calculated is to simply set both those great musicians to an (apparently arbitrary) 165, and adjust for age of first composition based on that ratio in calculating other historic musicians scores - this makes Wagner among the very elite, and Bach only 'fair to middlin').
                  Or try Charles Darwin, and Copernicus, both estimated IQ 160, (The same score, as Dolph Lungren's actual test results). President Bush (41) scored a 98 - his son Bush (43) scored 125. Steven Hawking scored "only" 160, same as the estimated score for Einstein - both are eclipsed by actor James Woods and John Sunnunu (180 actual score each)
                  President Carter scored at least 10 points above any other president or presidential candidate of the 20th or early 21st centuries, and of the current crop, Hillary Clinton is 5 points lower than Carter, but still beats everybody else that has shown any interest in running this time by at least anoher 10 points.

        So I'm going to take this oportunity to deride the test - look maw, I'm a hipster!

        • > President Bush (41) scored a 98 [...]

          You've been fooled by at least one hoax. Somebody invented a collection of "presidential IQs" in order to claim Democrats are smarter than Republicans. There is no evidence for several of the values you give, including specifically that score of 98. Here's the debunk:


    • +1 yes. along with Ouija boards and e-meters.

  • I mean it exists in a legal grey water, I think. I'm talking about sites like pornhub.

    • by Noah Haders ( 3621429 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @06:46PM (#48116645)

      I found one weird trick to stream every GoT episode from bing videos - search for "game of thrones". Seriously. it's so stupid how MS is so viciously focused on licenses and piracy on one hand, but on the other hand in a mad scramble to catch up to youtube will stream all manner of ripped tv shows, movies and pr0n. It's a seriously sketchy place.

      • by Zuriel ( 1760072 )

        What? That's not stupid at all. Microsoft is focused on licenses and piracy when it's their shit and don't care about anyone else's. That's perfectly logical. Same as the musicians you hear about illegally copying graphic art.

        It makes them hypocrites, not stupid.

  • FBI has no clue (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @06:25PM (#48116495) Homepage Journal

    I suspect this will be quietly dropped in the near future when they see their supply of young recruits dwindle to nothing.

    • Re:FBI has no clue (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bughunter ( 10093 ) <<bughunter> <at> <>> on Friday October 10, 2014 @06:37PM (#48116597) Journal

      No. It will dwindle to include only young sociopaths who can fool a lie detector.

      • You don't need to be a sociopath to beat a "lie detector". They are incredibly easy to "fool", not that there is anything to fool anyway because they aren't worth anything. Their only value is a that people think they do work because of all the propaganda and they convince people to submit to questioning without a lawyer present that they otherwise would never agree to.

        They don't allow lie detectors to be used in court for precisely that reason, they are utterly unreliable.

  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @06:28PM (#48116517) Journal
    Am I out of consideration if I refer to the polygraph as 'truth dowsing' while it is being administered? How about asking if it can detect witches?
  • by 101percent ( 589072 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @06:28PM (#48116519)
    Guess they can't reach out to the NSA for candidates.
  • by sideslash ( 1865434 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @06:28PM (#48116523)
    The FBI and other TLAs are constantly engaged in illegal downloading of the private information of Americans. How ironic that they're so anxious to recruit only people who have never committed the very types of "crimes" they're being hired to do. What, do they find it cheaper to train beginners than to hire someone already experienced in the job? (I wish this post was purely a joke.)
    • How ironic that they're so anxious to recruit only people who have never committed the very types of "crimes" they're being hired to do.

      I don't know if they wouldn't hire people who have downloaded some songs from an illicit source or whatever - maybe they don't. Their potential employee pool would sure be rather small, though.

      However, the article seems to suggest that they're asking this question, and if you are caught lying in your answer to that question, that you are then ineligible to apply for a posi

    • by mike449 ( 238450 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @07:00PM (#48116743)

      They are looking for people who will do anything their superiors tell them to do. This particular bit is about finding people who don't do stuff the authorities declare illegal. This is all about obedience, not about "not doing illegal stuff".

  • I guess with criteria like that, the FBI isn't going to have a cybercrimes division. Awesome. Seriously though, where the hell are they going to find people with IT skills who match these ridiculous criteria. The definitely won't be pulling the best and brightest of computer hackers.
  • Polygraph (Score:4, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @06:30PM (#48116535)

    I thought polygraphs were most notable for giving a lot of false positives.

    That's really not such a bad characteristic for security clearances.

    • They are most frequently know to be used to convince stupid people the police have evidence they don't, and to give whatever results the examiner wants them to give.

  • Lie detectors themselves have been proven time and time again to be utterly unreliable in actually detecting lies.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They are used not to detect truth or lies, they are used as a tool of intimidation. It is a high tech corollary to the bright light shone in the face of someone being grilled in the police interrogation room.

  • by macraig ( 621737 ) <> on Friday October 10, 2014 @06:37PM (#48116599)

    ... is whether "piracy" is actually stealing much less criminal.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In my experience, about 99% of videos on Youtube and images on Google image search have been illegally published without the rights holder's permission, so I guess they have to further restrict their applicants - good luck finding recruits that have never used those - maybe try the Amish?

  • Of course, a brief, public overview is going to lean towards zero tolerance. There are plenty of legal grey areas, and most folk aren't fully versed in copyright law nor would they knowingly violate such laws even if they might casually do so unknowingly. People in law enforcement know full well that absolute purity in the eyes of the law is very rare, and also strange. If they have a large enough applicant pool that they can take the rare ones who are both exceptionally qualified and squeaky clean, that
  • Excellent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danheskett ( 178529 ) <<danheskett> <at> <>> on Friday October 10, 2014 @06:46PM (#48116641)

    I look forward to the FBI having effectively no employee pool for anyone under the age of 40. As time goes on, I hope this rolled out government wide. In a few more years, there will be no more eligible government employees.

  • by lesincompetent ( 2836253 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @06:56PM (#48116709)
    Default on student loans? Sickening.
  • Apple and Amazon will be surprised to hear that downloading music is stealing. On the other hand, it's fine with the FBI if I lend my backup drive to friends so they can copy my complete collection of music, since clearly this isn't downloading?
  • How many really technologically savvy people have NEVER "illegally" downloaded some form of music or movie? The FBI will have none of those people working for them. While at the same time the next article on Slashdot is about yet another network intruded into for the theft of financial information. Way to go team USA.
  • if you want a conservative monoculture.

  • by MoFoQ ( 584566 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @07:18PM (#48116867)

    shoot, thought everyone already knew how to beat them?
    (butt "clenching" technique, anyone?)

  • Ironic. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @08:08PM (#48117121) Homepage

    The FBI doesn't want its agents to lie, or default on student loans (the latter is often simply a matter of economics, not honesty), but yet the Snowden documents reveal that the FBI commits perjury in federal court to hide the true, illegal sources of information they got from the NSA. Described here, [] Search for "Parallel Construction"

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @08:12PM (#48117145)

    One of my former bosses said "you can get good people, available people and people with no police record. Pick two"

    Time and experience has shown me that "good people" and "people with no police record" has become more and more synonymous as more and more inane laws are being pushed into existence. You don't get "good" in this field if you're learning it from text books. Ponder this for a moment: Malware analysis consists to a rather big portion of looking at decompiled code someone else wrote and quickly identifying specific sections, often involving reverse engineering some kind of encryption or obfuscation. Now where do you think you would almost invariably have to develop that skill set. Little hint: It ain't really a very legal activity.

    Most of the "good" security people I know didn't get there by choosing it as a career and studying. They got there because they ... well, wanted to accomplish something.

    And if they're good at it, they never got caught doing it...

  • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Friday October 10, 2014 @10:28PM (#48117733)

    I applied to the CIA when I was looking at finishing grad school about 4 years back. As with the FBI, one of the things they mentioned was illegal downloading, of which I had done quite a bit while in college. I mean, we're talking hundreds of films, thousands of TV episodes, thousands of audio tracks, both foreign and domestic for all of those, from any number of decades, genres, and budget sizes.

    I was upfront with them about it during a pre-screening interview held at my school's campus. I actually brought it up with them and asked if it'd be a problem. They indicated it wouldn't be, and formally invited me to fill out a proper application with them so that they could advance me through the process.

    I answered truthfully regarding it on the application and any subsequent questionnaires that I had to fill out. I never got any word back regarding that specifically, but their response was to ask me to fly up to Washington D.C. for a three-day session with them, which I did.

    I provided exacting details regarding my illegal downloading to the polygraph examiner at my polygraph session, as well as to anyone else who asked about it. I let them know the quantity, nature of the content, and how recently I had engaged in it. I passed the polygraph with flying colors and was told I didn't even need to come in for the second session they had scheduled since they were confident I told the truth about everything (and I excruciating detail, in fact, just because I knew, being the pedant that I am, that if I left out any little detail, I really would be considering myself to be lying; as an aside, one of the other applicants I was hanging out with lied to them about the recency of his drug use and got caught in his lie).

    And how did they respond to all of this? They asked me when it would be convenient to move on to the final stage of the application process (a thorough background check...which I'm confident I would have easily passed), since the folks I'd be working with were excited about bringing me onboard and wanted to keep things moving. Which is to say, the fact that I had downloaded loads of files illegally in the past clearly wasn't a problem. They let me know that it'd need to stop and that it would come up again in the every-five-years polygraph everyone working there submits to, but otherwise, they made it clear to me, both explicitly through their words and implicitly through their deeds that they really didn't have a problem with me having engaged in it at a relatively large scale in the past.

    P.S. Just to state what I hope is obvious: an actual polygraph session is NOTHING like what is shown on TV (the room was well-lit, there wasn't an angry detective yelling at me, beads of sweat were not pouring from my brow, and no one was pounding on any desks). I don't want to get into a load of details, but suffice it to say, the environment was heavily controlled to eliminate external stimuli, the questions and their meanings along with the terms and their definitions were all explained in detail to me in advance, I was able to voice any misgivings I had about them to the examiner (in fact, we spent 2.5 hours of the 4 hours doing just that, since my inherent pedantry meant that I had all sorts of ideas like "well, technically I've compromised government systems when I lent a friend my password at our state university" or "I can't rule out the possibility that I unknowingly supported terrorists through a front that they're maintaining", which led to a lot of the questions getting rephrased to be prefixed by "insofar as you know" or "besides what you have disclosed here"), and the questions were all read to me over and over and over again in even, metered tones that were about as un-aggressive as you can imagine.

    • Oh, and it should go without saying that I do not work there, otherwise I obviously wouldn't be discussing any of this. The job I found as a hold-me-over position until I was done with the CIA application process actually ended up blowing me completely out of the water, so when the CIA asked me to move forward with the application process, I let them know I had found something else and was no longer interested.

      And keep in mind that all of this was well before Snowden's revelations.

      In fact, for the writing s

      • by Uberbah ( 647458 ) on Saturday October 11, 2014 @01:59PM (#48120333)

        I didn't believe Manning or Wikileaks had conducted themselves in an ethical manner in their activities related to one another

        Was this new job as a professional Tone Troll? When the state has made legal whisteblowing impossible, the only way to reveal government lawbreaking is "illegally". Manning didn't exactly have his own staff to go over documents, but WikiLeaks did, going out of their way to as the USG for help with reactions.

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman