How bad is illegal downloading and what are ways to migitate?

Is listing down illegal downloading going to be a big issue related to IC TS w/ Poly?
I’m sure its going to come up in a conversation although not explicitly listed in the SF86.

Roughly 10-15 songs from youtube, done throughout highschool stopped a year ago. If we’re going off of itunes thats roughly $20-$30 worth of stuff.

I was wondering if there was anything else I could say or list to mitigate this, I should add that this isn’t for a computer savvy position or NSA, and I’m in college currently.

If you did it for yourself I doubt anyone will care too much. Now if you downloaded the songs and burned CDs and sold them then you may have an issue there. You also need to be careful on your wording. I’d put this in the “other” category. If you put this under “Yes here are the computer crimes I have committed” then you are right up there with Bernie Madhoff. Had a buddy put a parental block on his underage daughter’s computer but in the interview he confessed to hacking and spying on PCs because technically he did, however a parent can do that. It just needs to be explained better.

Contrary to the advice given above, they take downloading VERY seriously. Snowden and Manning have made sure of that.

Now . . . A few songs in high school? That should be mitigated by time and age. But, the fact that you only downloaded them for personal use has little to do with anything.

I am currently in the process for IC agencies and only time I mentioned downloading was during the poly. I downloaded alot through torrents and ended up estimating $8000 worth of downloads over a 10 year period. I mentioned that I thought the only issue was uploading and did not do that at all and made sure my uploads were turned off. I stopped once I saw the application saying that it’s illegal to download and to stop doing it. Full ignorance on my part. I have not been given a denial and it has been over a year since my poly. Maybe it takes awhile for a denial but I figured with an admission to it like that, that I would have been given a denial right away if I were to receive one for it.

No matter what you admit to, the investigation has to be completed before you go to adjudication. So, you’re not going to be denied by the investigator. He doesn’t have the power to do that. When he is done, you can sit in adjudication for some time before your file is even reviewed.

$8000 is likely to bite you . . . How could you think that only uploading was an issue? That just doesn’t pass the smell test . . .

I call BS that you realized it was illegal once you hit the application phase. I knew it was illegal when I was 12. This was nearly 30 years ago. Your only way to get past this is to list it and repent. Probably a nothing burger. But don’t try to bend the truth

I have never seen anything where someone was prosecuted or fined for downloading, only for uploading. This is why I thought the uploading was only the issue. I have seen many streaming boxes for sale and consider that the same aspect. You are able to watch TV and movies for free once you buy a box. All these boxes do is connect to a server containing all of these channels (which I’m sure are not legally obtained). You are basically downloading the content on your box to watch but are not uploading anything. It sounds the same to me yet these boxes are legal and sold in malls and on the internet.

You must be young. There have been plenty of court cases in the past decade from RIAA and MPAA regarding people being sued for illegal downloading.

And those boxes are not legal. There are things you can buy from Flea Markets that are not legal too. Doesn’t make it any better

1 Like

Lawsuits are civil cases, not criminal.

I got that but you have to look at the broad language in Guideline M for misuse of IT systems, even personal ones. There are court cases at DOHA.

I’m glad that you mentioned DOHA because, as I mentioned in a previous thread:


Applicant was denied clearance for personal conduct. Applicant filed an appeal through DOHA. In his SOR, they said he was “intentionally falsifying his response to a question in Section 27” (SOR ¶ 1.e) for not saying he illegally downloaded. The security concern was AG ¶ 16 (a), " deliberate omission, concealment, or falsification of relevant facts from any personnel security questionnaire"

Judge stated that “His illegal downloading activities onto his personal
computer does not fall within the scope of this question. As previously mentioned, he
provided the same information about his illegal downloading activities during his 2016
background interview as he did during his latter three polygraphs.”

Judge finally concluded that " I find that AG ¶ 16(a) is not established for SOR ¶ 1.e,
and I find SOR ¶ 1.e in Applicant’s favor. "

So yes. Don’t worry about it, and don’t over volunteer unless they specifically ask you about it.

1 Like

Get it though your head: When you download copyrighted material, you have STOLEN it from the copyright holder. Musician, writers, actors, producers, directors and many others earn their living through the sales of the musical, video and written content they produce.

When you create a new copy (this includes streaming) without the artist being paid, you have taken their work in the same way that your employer would be taking your work if they decided that they would not pay you.


@James1219 Overall it does not appear to be a huge clearance denial issue. I do not know anyone that has not downloaded or viewed copyright material is some form and I believe there would be many more entries on this forum and others if there was a high denial rate for it.

In the link posted by @compsci36 it helps show that downloading some isn’t bad either.

" For most people who use their own computer to download publicly accessible copyrighted files from the internet without paying for them or to participate in file sharing on a peer-to-peer network, their activity doesn’t amount to criminal conduct, which is probably necessary to support a security clearance denial or revocation under disqualifying condition (f) of Guideline M. Only when a person downloads and/or shares more than $1,000 worth of copyrighted files in any 180-day period without paying for them or tries to circumvent a security measure used to protect copyrighted material, does he risk an adverse security clearance determination."

My downloading was never more than $1000 in 180 day periods so it would have to be alot to hit that mark.

Read Guideline E: Personal Conduct . . . “unwillingness to comply with rules and regulations” . . .

There are plenty of people here who have been tripped up over downloading and more and more will be coming up as this has been the norm for younger folks.

I just used one of those video editing apps popular on the app store, all you had to do was type in the url and it was downloaded.

Finding an IT guy who has NEVER downloaded anything is a tough hill for any place that wants good IT.