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FBI enforcing the bandwidth CAP.
July 1, 2002 1:19 AM   Subscribe

FBI enforcing the bandwidth CAP. With broadband caps spreading across North America, I wonder if we will see more stories like this, as users find they want to use more than 4 to 6 gigs a month.
posted by Iax (18 comments total)

 
I don't understand their jurisdiction here or what laws are being broken. A violation of the TOS usually means a warning or disconnection and a bill if they don't return the modem. Now they're arresting people and confiscating PCs, Laptops, and network gear? Great, what if their network diagnostic tools crap out on them and my IP appears on their list? I doubt I can convince some technophobe agent that this DSL reports java app says I'm innocent.

I really hope Buckeye Express costumers don't put with with these strong-arm tactics and call their local DSL providers.
posted by skallas at 1:39 AM on July 1, 2002


There's a difference between bandwidth caps and usage caps. These people were removing the bandwidth caps set by their providers, enabling them to transfer data faster than other users. Which probably qualifies as theft of service, which is probably why the FBI got involved (but IANAL).
posted by zztzed at 1:43 AM on July 1, 2002


I use more than 6 gigs a day. Eek!
posted by dagny at 2:27 AM on July 1, 2002


Hmm... my c:\june_downloads directory is standing at 16.78GB. No problem, though. I'm on DSL.
posted by fnord_prefect at 3:13 AM on July 1, 2002


It's not the use of legitimate bandwidth they are upset about. They are far more scared about people that are altering cable modems for higher throughput. As using hacks like the one mentioned is starting to catch on big... not that it's a new idea.

They don't know how else to combat them, except putting a nice big scare on people. The more ambiguous the nature of the seizures, the better. State law enforcement officials and politicos are more than happy to go along. Esp. since they've been touting for the providers by campaining all over the nation for increased broadband coverages.

To think, in the old days, they would just seize your computer for pr0n. I guess the difference is that then, people would get far more upset. Now, we just see this and stand around blinking saying "What happened? Why did they do that?"
posted by Dean_Paxton at 5:29 AM on July 1, 2002


Iax, you capitalized the letters in "cap" like they were an acronym. I read it as "bandwidth Combat Air Patrol" (a naval-aviation term for a protective screen of fighter aircraft) and thought, since when does the FBI get to play in NavAir's sandbox?
posted by alumshubby at 5:55 AM on July 1, 2002


Let me guess, the FBI is doing their part to root out terrorism. HAHAHAHAHA

I do not like what is on the winds. Bandwidth caps, data xfer caps. Going to have to a get a lot more picky on the newsgroups.

I think the little empires providers set up have to go as well. Why is it that only one company services an area(in Mass/USA)? They have all staked out their territories and will not invade each other. Thereby having and maintaining a monopoly on the area. Don't even try to find DSL, no overlap there either.
I will cease my rambling now.

Good morning all
posted by a3matrix at 6:27 AM on July 1, 2002


Glad I never started fooling around with that article in 2600 on how to hack my particular brand of cable modem.
posted by yerfatma at 6:45 AM on July 1, 2002


Do the customers (paying customers, at that) own the cable modems? Are they modifying the modems, or are they modifying, say, registry settings on the PCs they own?
posted by NortonDC at 6:53 AM on July 1, 2002


Anyone who's ever done serious distributed systems design knows the network is never, ever, ever, your friend. Even when you think you have complete control over the medium and all the terminals, you don't. Especially when you put client hardware in the hands of the very early adopters who are most likely to go tinkering around with it.

The very fact that it's possible for someone to read an article in 2600 and increase their bandwidth is indicative of the fact that the vendors that built the modems and the routers (or whatever you call the big expensive box the cableopoly owns; I'm not sure in this case) and defined the standards for communication between them were either lazy or stupid.

I'm getting fairly sick of strongarm legalistic tactics used to cover up or compensate for technical incompetence, such as having the FBI scare cable consumers who were smart enough to realize the cable internet infrastructure was built on faulty assumptions, or letting the MPAA arrest Norwegian teenagers because the DVD Copy Control Authority couldn't be bothered to hire anyone with more than a weekend's experience skimming Bruce Schneier books they didn't understand to design their precious content protection cryptosystem. Only once the lawyers stop covering for this corporate laziness will we as a society build any computer infrastructure that's actually trustworthy.
posted by Vetinari at 8:08 AM on July 1, 2002


It's theft of service, plain and simple. I don't understand the argument that it's okay because the guys were smart enough to figure out flaws in the system - these people went out of their way to "trick" the ISP's system into giving them more bandwidth than they should have had.

Incidentally, a couple of people have asked recently why their PCs were taken too - you need a PC to remove the bandwidth caps, so this would be evidence too.
posted by SiW at 8:16 AM on July 1, 2002


SiW: I don't understand the argument that it's okay because the guys were smart enough to figure out flaws in the system

Imagine for a moment that your bank used your ATM card's magnetic strip as the definitive location of your bank balance. Changing your bank balance would be trivially simple. Possibly illegal, but the bank would be incredibly stupid to do that, right?

now, what if they'd charged you $100 to "sell" you the bank card? well, you own it, right? so basically the company is relying on the customer as the definitive source of their own account information. this is stupid.
posted by hob at 8:30 AM on July 1, 2002


I'm not going to argue to rights and wrongs of this, but it seems to be pretty clearly a crime that should not be federalized -- it's massively inefficient for the FBI to waste resources on this, given that catching the act requires very little in the way of coordination between different entities (except the cable company and the local police).
I assume the FBI is involved because there are blanket rules that make tampering with the telecomm networks Federal crimes. Can anyone elaborate on this?
posted by tingley at 8:33 AM on July 1, 2002


i don't understand why law enforcement was involved at all. when you have a customer who violates your TOS you cut them off, you don't call the police.
posted by hob at 8:41 AM on July 1, 2002


Never mind terrorists... music pirates are the ones the FBI should be concerned with right now!

What farking dumbasses.
posted by clevershark at 8:43 AM on July 1, 2002


They don't know how else to combat them, except putting a nice big scare on people.

They should do some serious rethinking. AT&T has the exact same problems and have no problem shutting people down in LESS than 24 hours and then coming to get their modem. If they can't get the modem they send a bill. Nice and civil. And it works. Losing service is 'scary' enough, getting arrest is over the top. This is another example of a law that serves only bad business. I hope Buckeye gets creamed in court.

I don't understand the argument that it's okay because the guys were smart enough to figure out flaws in the system - these people went out of their way to "trick" the ISP's system into giving them more bandwidth than they should have had.


Who said it was okay? That's certainly not the consensus in the thread or the article. The problem is how to combat network problems. Either take care of yourself and patch or replace your network gear or call the authorities and tell them, 'its just like stealing HBO!!! Arrest them!" The latter is pretty unfair and is the actions of a company that wants to bully their customers and doesn't want to spend a time securing their network.
posted by skallas at 11:21 AM on July 1, 2002


These customers were impacting the performance of all our other customers," Mr. Shryock said
Good thing the FBI isn't going after people who use "impact" as a verb. Then the heads would roll.
posted by Outlawyr at 9:59 AM on July 2, 2002


Impact is a verb. Transition your usage immediately.
posted by NortonDC at 12:28 PM on July 2, 2002


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