SF86 & Torrenting

I’ll preface this by saying I’m aware that what I’ve done is illegal, stupid, and it is clear to me now that the consequences far outweigh the gain.

So I just submitted my sf86 for Secret Clearance, but just thought of something that could be an issue.

I torrent stuff. Sometimes anime, previously games to try before buying them (I realize that doesn’t make it better…) but most commonly a tv show called kamen rider that is not available outside Japan. This is a weekly series and I’ve torrented it weekly for the last 10 years probably. I’ve never gotten a letter about it from my ISP and especially not a cease and desist so it’s not documented anywhere as far as I’m aware.

With all that being said the reason I’m posting this is because back in August of 2019 I got my first “Notice of Copyright Violation” for a game. I immediately deleted the game and have not torrented another one since.

So I went ahead and told the security officer about the Notice of Copyright Violation and they said that’s not a problem as it never went to court, I never had to take a class, and most importantly wasn’t a security concern. She’s going to send the e-qip back for revision.

I also mentioned that I had torrented other things in the past with the most recent being about a week ago. She advised that I go ahead and put that in the e-qip as well for clarity’s sake. By my estimate ($10 dollars an episode) In the last 180 days I’ve pirated around $300 - $400 of that tv show.

My question is how much of an impact will this have on my clearance decision?

I have nothing else that could cause me to be denied; no criminal history, never tried drugs, no foreign relations, nothing.

I also never uploaded, shared, or sold anything torrented. Outside of games and tv shows I’ve never torrented software, books, or anything else.

In all honesty, I think that you are going to have a serious problem. Illegal downloads are touchy issue because so many of the security breaches in the last 20 years have been carried out that way. In reality, you never know what you might actually be downloading. You don’t who you might be getting it from and you don’t know what information they might be getting from your computer while you are downloading.

Your willingness to be involved in this activity can be seen as a tendency to both not follow the rules and to abuse computer systems.


Thanks for the reply.

Since posting I’ve spoken to my boss and security officer who both said it shouldn’t be an issue because I’m being upfront about it, I’ve never done it on a work computer, and that it’s not viewed as a security concern.

I’m hoping they’re right but am prepared if they aren’t.

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I’m living proof that it can be an issue. I received a clearance denial from illegal downloading. But that was for an IC agency and TS/SCI w/ FS.

I hope you are prepared. I’ve been unemployed for over 2 years (but spent most of that time in school with GI bill). I just got a secret back in January.

I think I need some clarification here. Is torrenting “downloading” as opposed to “streaming”? If so, then yes you have violated Federal law by downloading copyrighted material. If it is not, and it is “streaming” akin to using a “jailbroken” firestick and simply watching like you would a YouTube video then no.

Torrenting used to be known as “peer to peer” sharing and can violate just as many U.S. laws as downloading.

When you torrent something, you download it to your computer, so yes, it is downloading.

Streaming is technically different in a way, but certain streams put on by people on reddit or twitch can still be illegal if you’re viewing copyrighted material that is supposed to be paid for.

Torrenting in of itself is not an issue. Many games push updates out using the multiple source methodology (looking at you blizzard). Its WHAT you torrented that maybe the issue