Using streaming site to watch sports games for free

Hey everyone,

I am a senior in college looking to apply to agencies after graduating. I am concerned because today at the career fair the CIA representative said illegal downloading would be asked about on the polygraph test. I watch a lot of sports and when they are not on the channels or streaming services I am subscribed to, I use a sport streaming site where I can watch for free. Does this count as illegal downloading/would I even need to bring this up when asked about illegal downloading on the polygraph.


DO NOT MENTION THIS. I have seen people rejected for admitting to illegal streaming and downloading. Others will tell you to “come clean” or “be honest” but that is stupid advice. If you admit it, you risk rejection. Trust me, no background check is going to look at your internet browsing history. Even if you are asked about this during your background check or polygraph, you answer NO.

BTW, don’t be scared of the stupid polygraph. It is just a tool to scare people into making disqualifying admissions that the polygraphers and investigators would have never discovered.

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Is it a jail broken fire stick or on your computer?

Just on my computer. Normal Google search for a game stream.

Would it not catch me as being deceptive though and disqualify me if I said no to this question? Also, there is no downloading taking place. Just simple public websites where games are streamed.

Polygraph outcomes have little to do with whether one has spoken the truth. The polygraph cannot read your mind.

As to whether your activity as described amounts to illegal downloading as will likely be asked about during the polygraph, I’m not sure. I think that what they have in mind is more at downloading copyrighted movies, music, or software. But streaming services might fall within the scope of that question.

In any event, my advice to you would be to not seek employment with any agency that would pretend to assess your honesty and integrity based on a pseudoscientific fraud such as polygraph “testing” (which depends on the operator lying to and deceiving the person being “tested”).

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You would be fine. They do ask it, just be honest.

Just because you may have a physiological reaction to a question, such as your heart skipping a beat, doesn’t mean you are being deceptive. The polygraph machine and the operators do not know if you are lying. The polygraph questions are pretty basic. For full scope polygraphs, they always ask general questions about about serious crimes, drug use, intentionally lying on any of your documents for that job, and mishandling or leaking classified information.

Now based on your security clearance interviews, SF86, and other information that you provided, the polygrapher may ask more detailed questions such as illegal downloads and streaming.

The point is, there is not enough time in the world for polygraphers to ask about every single naughty thing you have done. So they ask general questions, slightly more specific questions based on information you have previously provided, and then interrogate you more for specifics. Do not worry about reacting on any questions. You can just answer that the downloading/streaming question shocks you because you know that it is so easy to stream or download and everyone does it but you never do because you know it is wrong. Providing this justification for your reaction to the question should suffice.

When the polygrapher interrogates you and accuses you of lying, do not fall for the trap. Stick to your story, do not change your story, deny all accusations, and you will pass. It is just a game.

You can also use countermeasures to alter your body’s physiological responses but I won’t go into that. You can visit for more details on countermeasures.

Legally you did not download anything. Streaming and downloading have been challenged in court more than a few times.

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If they ask, always be honest but no need to volunteer anything they don’t ask for. FWIW, maybe this will help. I’m not an attorney so take this with a grain of salt but most definitions of the downloading vs streaming laws go something like this: If you’re simply consuming unlicensed content from a streaming service, you may not technically be breaking the law. Where it becomes a crime is if you download the content or host a stream yourself.

I wouldn’t listen to anything this Larry the Cable Guy says. If you read through other topics/posts, they are always telling people to lie on the security forms, in their interviews, and now during the polygraph.

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I have not lied once. I am telling people the truth. If there is no record of something that you have done, and nobody knows about it, why would you tell on yourself and risk job rejection?

The polygraph and the investigators do not read minds; they want confessions . . . they love confessions! There is practically zero chance that an undisclosed indiscretion such as streaming or downloading, having sex with a prostitute, doing an illegal drug many months or years ago after the drug is out of your system, or something else not on record and unbeknownst to the applicant’s peers, will come back to bite an applicant in the ass. It just doesn’t happen.

Speaking of LYING, the POLYGRAPHERS LIE to applicants during the pre-test phase when they tell applicants they can read them like a book and know when they are lying. That is a lie and you know it.

Am I wrong? Do you have a problem with me telling people the truth on how the system works?

Can we please ban this person? It’s dangerous.


Larry, You may not have “lied” but you are instructing people to lie on their SF 86. You are giving out questionable, if not downright wrong “advice”. By your own admissions you have been out of the cleared industry for over a decade although it appears you are currently undergoing a clearance. It does not appear that you have ever worked as an adjudicator, investigator, or personnel security specialist. All of your “advice” is “I know a guy who…”

What you have repeatedly failed to tell folks, when telling them to not admit, is the instructions that are written on the SF86 and are provided verbally prior to every Subject interview:

“The U.S. Criminal Code (title 18, section 1001) provides that knowingly
falsifying or concealing a material fact is a felony which may result in fines
and/or up to five (5) years imprisonment. In addition, Federal agencies
generally fire, do not grant a security clearance, or disqualify individuals who
have materially and deliberately falsified these forms, and this remains a part
of the permanent record for future placements. Your prospects of placement
or security clearance are better if you answer all questions truthfully and
completely. You will have adequate opportunity to explain any information you
provide on this form and to make your comments part of the record”

Its right there on page 2, under Penalties for Inaccurate or False Statements. It’s a felony.
So if you want to risk fines, a prison term and having a federal felony on your record, go ahead and misrepresent yourself on the paperwork. Tell the truth and the worst that can happen is you don’t get the clearance, possibly lose your job. You decide.


Thank you for admitting that I have not lied. Which is true because I haven’t. Now I am not telling people to lie on their SF86, but I am telling people not to divulge extraneous information. I say it, I mean it, and I swear by it. Nobody needs to spill their deep dark secrets that nobody knows about because it is not important. You want everyone to be honest? See how many cleared military guys who served OCONUS reported all of their foreign women (hookers or otherwise). Yeah . . . how is that for honesty?

That USC Title 18 Section 1001 code is rarely enforced and is just to deter people from omitting info. Snitching on yourself is the quickest way to lose a clearance. Omitting information alone very very rarely sends anyone to prison because this situation is difficult to prosecute. There is a thing called “plausible deniability” where if you omit something minor, you can just claim you forgot about it while filling out that tedious 100+ page SF86 form. Don’t be scared just because the word “felony” is in there. DO NOT SNITCH ON YOURSELF!

I have not revealed my entire background and I will not. I am still involved in the cleared world and I will leave it at that. I have up-to-date information about clearances, background checks, investigators, adjudicators, polygraphs, and more. Much of this information in publicly available but I also have first and second-hand insight. I still help people get clearances and learn how the system works.

As you already admitted, I am not here to lie. I am here to spread the truth. Anyone is free to do with this truthful information what they please, or they can just ignore me. I don’t care.

Remember everyone: Whether it is a federal or local police questioning, interview, or interrogation (all the same thing) . . . or a background investigation for a clearance, if you snitch on yourself, you are toast. TOAST!

I document everything in my handwritten notes. One of the final questions is literally “is there anything pertinent to the investigation or that we have not discussed that you think is relevant to the investigation that you just want me to know.” I have a Subject Contact scheduled for this week to discuss some things that he wishes to disclose that were not required to be listed on the SF86. If he fails his poly for whatever reason, he can request my ROI/notes and prove to them what he told me if need be. I accurately report everything, but I would have zero issue with someone pulling my notes for an appeal. There is no reason to lie, which a lot of people on this blog seem to want to do. The advice to READ THE QUESTION CAREFULLY AND REPORT EXACTLY WHAT IS ASKED could not be more perfect. People seem to want to skirt around the question and justify not being honest because “they maybe won’t find out,” and then get confused or upset when their CJO is revoked.

Larry - I really hope you’re not a background investigator. You’re probably messing people up unnecessarily by telling them to lie, which YES THE EFF YOU ARE. Please get out of this industry. You’re making it harder for the rest of us honest investigators. By the way, it’s a lot easier to report a little disclaimer about the Subject volunteering some information that didn’t need to be listed than triggering a TESI that makes them look dishonest. I’m actively looking through every thread to find some piece of useful information that you have given anyone and it doesn’t exist. Please retire.

You are giving applicants bad advice. I have been doing this for 7 years and I also hate having to do issue resolution

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I have to admit, some of what Larry said about the people administering polygraphs is not wrong. Many of them are routinely bluffing, which is a form of lying in itself. So its a bit of double standard you see… is it ok to “lie” for a cause, i.e. your direct job in an effort to fish out confessions? I really cant answer that.
As to other aspects as they relate to “dark secrets” of applicants, I understand why a given agency may want to know as much as possible about someone as it gives a better picture of someone’s weakness, which would not be evident anywhere else on their application. I am really hoping that is not done to disqualify folks for being forthcoming though. As they say, no one is perfect, and if agencies only looked for perfect people then no one would work there. Unless… people that make the cut ARE concealing their darkest secrets? That is a scary thought actually… We as public just don’t know, but I want to believe otherwise.

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People fail polygraphs when they are self conscious about the results. End of story. The triggers are your reaction to a question. Here is an example: An applicant smokes weed in a state that is recreationally legal. Subject was just told that it’s still federally illegal, but up until the poly, Subject thought they were not breaking any laws (let’s assume the subject is young and applying for their first clearance). Subject is now panicking because they are thinking about the technicalities of their marijuana use, and thus show possible deception on the poly. It’s way better to discuss it with an investigator than to lie because you “only did it one time.” That’s the purpose of our actual job - to document the subject’s side of the story so the adjudicators have the whole picture. I can’t sign on to any person telling an applicant to intentionally be deceptive on a technicality.

Larry the Cable Guy is leading applicants in the wrong direction, no question.

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No, that’s not the end of the story. People fail polygraphs for innumerable reasons. A common cause is arguably fear of the consequences of not being believed, regardless of whether one has spoken the truth.

It’s not at all clear that telling the truth increases one’s chances of passing the polygraph. (A strong argument could be made that the opposite is true.)

Retired CIA polygraph operator John F. Sullivan opined in an article written for the journal of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO):

…an honest subject has no better chance than a dishonest subject of getting through the process.

I think that applicants for positions of public trust have an ethical obligation to answer relevant questions truthfully. But the available evidence does not suggest that doing so increases one’s chances of passing the polygraph.


My only point was that it monitors reactions. Clearly the polygraph can’t read minds, but it can tell when a person has a physical reaction to a question, so a subject overthinking a question could be interpreted as possible deception. It’s better to be honest than to try to deceive on a technicality.