Print 23 comment(s) - last by mike8675309.. on May 7 at 2:48 PM

Employee broke the law by downloading smut on his work laptop

Bo Jiang, a Chinese citizen,  was one of 281 nationals from countries designated as security threats employed at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  But following increased scrutiny by Congress and a month-long trip to China in December that raised red flags, Mr. Bo was fired from his Visual Information Processing lab position at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia -- on assignment from the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA).  Mr. Bo was fired for violating agency security regulations by taking a NASA laptop and an NIA external hard drive with him on his trip.

Then in March, when Mr. Bo tried to leave the country for China, he was arrested at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C., suspected of violating the Arms Export Control Act (22 USC § 39).

Mr. Bo, who graduated with a doctorate from Virginia’s Old Dominion University in 2010 had been involved in retinex, a low clearance project working to development image improvement algorithms for space telescopes and other NASA cameras.

Unlike in some past cases where investigations confirmed suspicions of spying, a search of Mr. Bo's laptop showed that he was likely not passing NASA secrets to China, but that he was processing a different kind of image on his NASA laptop during his downtime.  Investigators found unlawfully downloaded copyrighted movies and sexually explicit films on the work machine.

Mr. Bo faces up to five years in U.S. prison on the porn/copyright infringement charges.  And when he does get out he likely won't be enjoying much adult entertainment; Chinese censors have a nationwide firewall blockade on pornographic content.

Source: Bloomberg

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By Motoman on 5/6/2013 5:25:57 PM , Rating: 3
...OK someone help me with this.

If this guy had had a warrant issued for the feds to search his *personal* computer for suspicion of selling secrets to China, which subsequently found no such evidence...I believe that the fact they'd found illicitly downloaded movies during that search would be irrelevant, and could not be used to file charges against him since he wasn't under suspicion of doing that and there was no warrant for that charge. Yes?

But because the computer in question was his *work* computer, and therefore the property of his employer (in this case, the US government), the employer can search that equipment any time they want, and if they happen to find something incriminating (like the illicit movies) they can report him to the police - regardless of whether or not that's what they were looking for. Yes?

The porn has nothing to do with it - at least, not in the US, where porn is legal. The porn may have violated corporate policy, but in the worst case that just gets you fired.

RE: Ummm....
By daboom06 on 5/6/2013 5:30:07 PM , Rating: 2
yea, since when is copyright infringement a jailable offense.

RE: Ummm....
By AmbroseAthan on 5/6/2013 5:38:15 PM , Rating: 3
From the source article:

"Jiang faced as many as five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted for lying to federal agents."

The porn was not the problem.

RE: Ummm....
By Jeffk464 on 5/6/2013 5:56:01 PM , Rating: 2
When are people going to learn you don't lie, you don't say anything, you let a lawyer talk for you.

RE: Ummm....
By Motoman on 5/6/2013 6:01:52 PM , Rating: 2
From the DT article:

Mr. Bo faces up to five years in U.S. prison on the porn/copyright infringement charges.

Doesn't mention that which you pointed out from the BusinessWeek article.

So...then the article also says this:

quote: set to plead to a misdemeanor charge of violating agency computer rules.

So if you work for a government agency, and you violate company policy, that's not just grounds for's an actual crime?

RE: Ummm....
By lennylim on 5/6/2013 7:29:59 PM , Rating: 2
My take on this, which may not be true : you accuse an employee of espionage, which is treason. Turns out that you're wrong, but you found something embarrassing about him. Leak it to the press, tarnish his reputation, threaten him with a lengthy prison time, then offer to drop all that, in return for him not pursuing how his constitutional rights were violated during the process of the investigation.

RE: Ummm....
By Doken44 on 5/7/2013 4:45:48 AM , Rating: 2
"Bo Jiang, a Chinese citizen,..."
There are other rights that were violated, but the US constitution doesn't apply the rights of a US citizen to a Chinese.

RE: Ummm....
By Motoman on 5/7/2013 9:39:16 AM , Rating: 3
Yes it does...if they're in the USA.

Once you're present in the USA, the law gets applied to you the same as everyone else. Regardless of whether or not you're a citizen.

Imagine if a Canadian came down here and got pulled over for not wearing their seatbelt..."Oh, you're not a US citizen? K...straight to the electric chair then."

RE: Ummm....
By maugrimtr on 5/7/2013 9:58:16 AM , Rating: 2
I find it comforting that the US Constitution does not apply to non-US citizens in some people's confused world view. We should remind all the tourists that they have zero rights before they hop on a plane to NY for a vacation.

RE: Ummm....
By mike8675309 on 5/7/2013 2:48:18 PM , Rating: 2
In general judicial law does not apply to non U.S. citizens. Slate had a good blurb on this if you search Do Noncitizens Have Constitutional Rights?. While the bill of rights applies to everyone, the law is different. Congress gets to write the laws for non-citizens without judicial review, and in some cases those laws can override what for a citizen would be a constitutional right.

RE: Ummm....
By Jeffk464 on 5/6/2013 5:54:48 PM , Rating: 2
Nope, they found the movies while legitimately searching for NASA secrets. It should be legally admissible in court. Its only when the search wouldn't reasonably include the area of whatever item was seized. For example if the warrant was for a laptop search and they cut into the guys gas tank and found a ton of cocaine, the cocaine would not be admissible.

RE: Ummm....
By marvdmartian on 5/7/2013 8:03:13 AM , Rating: 2
When you access a government computer system, you do so with the understanding that you can be monitored at any time, and are responsible for anywhere you go, anything you do, and any material you download to that computer, regardless of whether it's physically connected to a government network or not.

Some access to places like Youtube, Web-based e-mail and Facebook have recently been okayed. Pretty sure this guy didn't get copyrighted movies or porn from those sources, though.

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