Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Crime The Almighty Buck The Courts

Instant Messaging Company Snap Threatens Jail Time for Leakers (cheddar.com) 92

An anonymous reader shares a report: Snap has a simple message to its employees: leak information and you could be sued or even jailed. The chief lawyer and general counsel of Snapchat's parent company, Michael O'Sullivan, sent a threatening memo to all employees last week just before The Daily Beast published an explosive story with confidential user metrics about how certain Snapchat features are used. "We have a zero-tolerance policy for those who leak Snap Inc. confidential information," O'Sullivan said in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Cheddar. "This applies to outright leaks and any informal 'off the record' conversations with reporters, as well as any confidential information you let slip to people who are not authorized to know that information."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Instant Messaging Company Snap Threatens Jail Time for Leakers

Comments Filter:
  • What an asshole! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @12:10PM (#55960691)
    The leaking of information, at most, is a tort. It is not a crime and there will be no jail! Michael O'Sullivan is nothing more than a bully and how is this memo not work placement harassment!?
    • Re:What an asshole! (Score:5, Informative)

      by swb ( 14022 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @12:21PM (#55960767)

      I'm inclined to agree with you, and it sounds more like "Muh business is like the government and you go to jail!".

      That being said, just how bendy are the laws on corporate espionage, theft of information, etc? The problem isn't that this is basically a civil dispute between employer and employee, it's that Congress is all too willing to pass laws that criminalize these kinds of disputes and in the employer's favor.

      This makes it very convenient for corporations to use the FBI as their private enforcement arm and makes threats of criminal prosecution plausible if not real, especially if the employer does a good job with keeping up with their political subscriptions, er, contributions.

    • What if Snap.Inc has the ability to spoof the leakers' account send bomb threats or child pornography through the leaker's personal account and finger them to the Feds?

      What if the messages are actually archived and snap can rummage through the leakers communications and rat on them to the feds? Or out embarrassing personal info?

      How they will end up in jail will be communicated by word of mouth on unbuggable room?

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Fake corporate news, who knew?

    • The leaking of information, at most, is a tort. It is not a crime and there will be no jail!

      Never, regardless of the character of the information leaked? In every country in which Snapchat has users?

      It's easy to be cocky when your cockiness puts others at potential risk and not yourself. Are you willing to go to jail in the place of others who heed your faux legal advice and discover you were wrong?

    • Bossman just wants to make it clear that Snap will ONLY share confidential information with cops, persecutors, spies, advertisers, and mobsters. Under no circumstances will confidential information be shared with reporters!

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @12:12PM (#55960707)
    This has everything to do with Snap not wanting to be "the next Twitter", where their idiot employees spout off on camera about their magic privacy-violating powers.

    e.g., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgyPpsX2B0g&t=3s
    • Twitter vs. Snap (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @12:56PM (#55961035) Homepage

      "the next Twitter", where their idiot employees spout off on camera about their magic privacy-violating powers.

      On the other hand, Twitter's entire goal is to broadcast you short message to everybody (micro-blogging), with direct messages being only a after-though bolted-on minor feature.
      There shouldn't be much expected privacy to begin with (the whole point of twitter is to not be private, but shout out loud).

      In short : Twitter is not the expected platform to send your dick pic, unless your goal *is* the whole planet to be subjected to it all the way to leaders in North Korea. (But please be aware that doing so might be an offense under your local jurisdiction)

      Whereas Snap has always tried to present it self as a "your ephemeral message are guaranteed to remain private and un-seen" type of company (with varying degrees of actually managing to put it into practice - remember the "pics actually remain in the temp folder" scandal).

      In short: Snap is (supposed to be) the platform where you can do all your sexting and expect that even the Mossad won't be aware of your and your s.o.'s intimate anatomies.

      Employee announcing to abuse their all-seeing privileges can have different implication on both platforms.

      And might be the ground on which the current assho^H... dictat^H... boss is trying to threaten with jail time:
      - if the specific leaks they are revealing is about all-seeing abuses, they might be implied to have access illegal-to-them content
      (e.g.: 2 european 15yo teens sexting with each other. Depending on the country it can be actually entirely legal. An employee bragging about tools to spy users' private messages could be suspected of having access nude pictures of said teens which is entirely illegal and a jailable offense in the US)

  • by jelwell ( 2152 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @12:14PM (#55960721)

    What a perfect response, leak the memo threatening leakers. This is not going to end well for SNAP!
    A great company would simply remind employees that it's in their best interest not to leak information. This sounds like the flailings of a dying company.
    Joseph Elwell.

    • A great company would simply remind employees that it's in their best interest not to leak information.

      That's what they did, they just didn't sugar coat it for the easily offended.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 19, 2018 @12:27PM (#55960789)

    Snap's going to have fun filling positions. Who wants to work in that type of environment?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you can't trust your employees, you are not paying them enough.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @12:41PM (#55960893)

    I'm surprised the CEO isn't appearing on stage in black turtlenecks and jeans.

    This just sounds like a paranoid, in-over-his-head dotcom era CEO running the place like his own personal empire. He's just trying to mimic the Steve Jobs personality...intense secrecy on products, over-the-top asshole personality, etc... So many people I've dealt with in executive positions are like this -- it's like they read a book in the airport bookstore telling them they need to act exactly like this CEO or that CEO, and just latch onto it for dear life, trying as hard as possible to pull it off.

    • by swell ( 195815 )

      Secrecy is important to the bottom line of a creative corporation. A computer company that makes clones using generic parts has no need of secrecy. A company that actually invests heavily in new ideas has an interest in secrecy. They need time to test and validate those ideas before presenting them to market in a useful form. Leaks to competitors are a serious problem and they must take many precautions against that. Untimely leaks to the public can damage their marketing plan also creating a financial loss

  • If you leak Snap Inc. information, you will lose your job and we will pursue any and all legal remedies against you. And that’s just the start. You can face personal financial liability even if you yourself did not benefit from the leaked information. The government, our investors, and other third parties can also seek their own remedies against you for what you disclosed. The government can even put you in jail.

    People here keep saying that theft of trade secrets is only a tort, but that's not correct

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The bar for federal criminal prosecution is *really* high. "benefit a foreign power" and "actual damages to the corporation" sort of high. Not the sort of high that O'Sullivan clearly was when he wrote that over-the-top memo to bully Snap's employees.

    • Listen to parent. There plenty of applicable laws; it's justice that is in short supply. Remember Aaron Schwarz [wikipedia.org].
    • Re:yes criminal (Score:4, Informative)

      by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@NoSPaM.nerdflat.com> on Friday January 19, 2018 @01:23PM (#55961345) Journal
      The economic espionage act requires that the misappropriated trade secrets would or could reasonly be used to benefit a foreign power... the scope for which it can apply is generally limited to confidential material maintained by the government itself.
  • What a way to build company moral, threaten to have people thrown in jail.

  • morale (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jsepeta ( 412566 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @01:00PM (#55961077) Homepage

    The beatings will continue until morale improves!

  • Jail? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Holi ( 250190 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @01:00PM (#55961079)
    Since when does a company have the ability to throw someone in jail?
    • I know actually reading TFA is a sign of weakness, but the memo doesn't claim that a company has the ability to throw someone in jail -- it simply points out that the government has that ability:

      If you leak Snap Inc. information, you will lose your job and we will pursue any and all legal remedies against you. And that’s just the start. You can face personal financial liability even if you yourself did not benefit from the leaked information. The government, our investors, and other third parties can also seek their own remedies against you for what you disclosed. The government can even put you in jail.

      • it simply points out that the government has that ability:

        Yes of course the government has that ability. But do the ability to do so because you leaked company information? I'm not sure the courts would agree on that one.

        • But do the ability to do so because you leaked company information? I'm not sure the courts would agree on that one.

          Courts already have agreed with that one. Here's but one recent example: https://www.geekwire.com/2017/... [geekwire.com]

          • Nope. He wasn't jailed for leaking company information, he was jailed for insider trading a very different thing and a very real federal crime.

            • He wasn't jailed for leaking company information, he was jailed for insider trading

              I'm not sure if you're trying to split hairs or didn't actually read the article. He made no trades -- he simply leaked the company information to someone who did:

              Kennedy passed along information on first quarter 2015 earnings figures before they became public to Maziar Rezakhani, the fraternity brother. Rezakhani turned around and bought 4,400 shares of Amazon stock for $1.7 million.

              • Splitting hairs is exactly what you need to do in this discussion, but they are HUGE hairs that you can split with an axe. There's a world of difference between leaking internal memos, leaking information on products and features, leaking user metrics which don't infringe privacy .... and leaking quarterly earnings report. Doing the former 3 is nothing more than a breach of contract with your employer and a tort law that could get you no more than sued. Doing the latter is facilitating insider trading and

                • Ok... then you're admitting you made a way overbroad statement at the beginning and are now reluctantly walking it back. Glad to be of help. Have a great weekend.

                  • Nope not at all. You're conflating two very different issues I presume because you don't understand the very VERY important distinction. Leaking information from a private company is not a crime, period. What is a crime is intentionally leaking very specific information, in the hopes to affect trading prices in a way that allows profit to be gained from this information.

                    The latter is a very tiny subset of info and also one that snapchat doesn't care about since the information that is likely to move the sha

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Remember Aaron Schwartz.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Have them executed

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Kylo Ren School of Management at Stalin University. :-)

  • I don' t think these are military secrets. But, hey, you signed up.

    Free pingpong tables and lunches but even your silent but deadly farts, or 'careless whispers' in the company elevator, can get blown out of proportion.

  • Where do I apply? I haven't treated like shit in a long time, so this sounds like the perfect place to satisfy my quota for quite some time!
  • .... it's hardly surprising that company can sue employees who violate an NDA.... at several places that I worked, all material distributed within the office was implicitly considered confidential, including memos, emails, and notices, unless there was an explicit disclaimer to the effect that it was not.

    Of course, such an NDA would not apply to anything which might have broken any actual laws... but that situation had never come up.in my experience.

    Other than spouting an empty threat about people who

  • There has never been, and never will be, an explosive story about Snap. Mr. O'Sullivan is apparently suffering from delusions of grandeur.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    My first reaction upon reading such a threat would be immediate resignation with no notice. My resignation letter would detail not wanting to be prosecuted for telling my wife what I did today (an "unauthorized person"). It's not worth it to work for an employer that threatens all their employees with prosecution and jailing.

    Snapchat isn't the freaking CIA. It sounds like this company is headed for the shitter right quick. Good riddance.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @02:34PM (#55962025)

    Won't any leaked Snap(chat) information just disappear after a short time or being viewed?

  • Is it not a crime for a civilian to threaten jail? Are they not impersonating the police and courts? It is up to the authorities to make the determinarion to charge, prosecute, and try.

  • They have their own judges on staff?

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.

Working...