bad actor

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bad actor (plural bad actors)

  1. (idiomatic, law) Individual or entity with the prior criminal conviction, or who has been sanctioned by the court or regulator.
    • 2016 September 26, Jill Treanor, quoting Stuart Levey, “Global collaboration needed on ‘bad actor’ rules, says HSBC legal chief”, in The Guardian[1]:
      More needs to be done to combat financial crime, a senior lawyer at HSBC has said as he called for global collaboration over the rules imposed on banks to keep “bad actors” out of the financial system.
    • 2018 February 5, Paul Lewis, quoting Mark Warner, “Senator warns YouTube algorithm may be open to manipulation by 'bad actors'”, in The Guardian[2]:
      The top-ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee has warned that YouTube’s powerful recommendation algorithm may be “optimising for outrageous, salacious and often fraudulent content” or susceptible to “manipulation by bad actors, including foreign intelligence entities”.
  2. (idiomatic) A person with malicious intent.
  3. (idiomatic) Ill-intentioned, mean, ill-tempered person.
  4. Used other than figuratively or idiomatically: see bad,‎ actor.

Usage notes[edit]

In the legal sense "bad actor" is also used in financial regulations, ex. not allowing such people or companies to participate in certain regulated processes, or to take advantage of certain privileges. Often used as opposed to "an upstanding citizen".