Homeland Security Tries To Make Dubious Connection Between Mod Chippers And Money Laundering

from the don't-they-have-something-better-to-do? dept

We've written about the mod chip saga for years. Basically, mod chips let you change what a video game console can do. It's often used by people who want to play unauthorized games, but there are legitimate reasons to modify your video game system. Considering that it's a purchased item, you would think that the owner would have every right to tinker with it however they saw fit -- but you would be wrong. Buzz writes in to let us know that mod chips are back in the headlines as again as customs agents raided 32 homes and businesses to look for mod chips. It's not clear why the feds should get involved in what someone does to legally purchased hardware, but that's the world we live in these days. Thanks to the DMCA, having anything that can circumvent copy protection is illegal. The press release quotes from the Department of Homeland Security are really stepping into ridiculous territory, though: "These crimes cost legitimate businesses billions of dollars annually and facilitate multiple other layers of criminality, such as smuggling, software piracy and money laundering." That's right. First cite bogus claims about imaginary "losses" and then, to make it actually sound like a big deal, try to imply that it's involved in organized crime by saying it's associated with smuggling and money laundering. Of course, there wouldn't be any issue with "smuggling" if the law wasn't criminalizing modifying a product that you legitimately purchased.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    jLl, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 11:19am

    Rent

    But, you're not buying ownership.

    You're paying $250 - $600 to perpetually RENT one of the new consoles.

    Why would anyone think that paying-out-of-the-ass would mean ownership?

    [read: sarcasm]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    BillGod, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 11:40am

    There are REAL uses for modchips

    My website is run from a modded Xbox running linux. So before anyone starts ranting that everyone who mods is stealing from the software companies. Keep that in mind. Where else you gonna get a low profile quiet pc that can be stashed in the back corner of your desk for $100?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    black and white, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 11:48am

    you know you are a pirate when....

    You have an issue with someone altering copy protected hardware, software, and have an issue with it...

    YAAAAAR.....

    I believe the fines for a personal issue is 100,000 us dollars and up to 3 years in jail. At least that was on a piracy notice a friend got from the attorney general.. My comment was stupid should hurt..

    Any pirated item that you show to someone else, or touches the internet in any way is track able. You know this and run the gambit anyways. What makes people think Microsoft can not scan the firmware of its Xbox 360 from the live connection, just because they don’t doesn’t mean they won’t, and then there are flash upgrades that can disable the Xbox if it’s altered?

    What if I pack a ps3 with c4 and add a mod chip that makes it blow after 3 hours or 3 days of play? Is it possible… yes it is. This is the world we live in so get used to it or move to another country

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    GoblinJuice, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 11:51am

    Get me my brown pants!

    Getting your home raided for a goddamn modchip?

    SERIOUSLY?!

    This is... uh... serious.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    James (profile), Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 11:52am

    Re: you know you are a pirate when....

    Thet do scan from X-Box live. I have modded many X-Boxes and non of them would be able to use live content safely. Non of the Modded Xbox 360s that i have seen could be connected to X-Box live either.Most X-Box mods that try to connect to live get disabled.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    astro73, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 11:59am

    Re: you know you are a pirate when....

    I think I like the moving option. Sane politics, decent health care, ..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    eli, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 12:00pm

    these companies are lucky that stuff can be hacked and modded. that the only reason i bought the wii and the 360 to begin with, was because it COULD be modded. and the only reason i havent bought a ps3 is, because it hasnt been hacked fully yet, i would have to dump at least another $200 to make it a worthwhile and fun gaming experience (sony get your head out of your ass with your video game systems!).

    i actually bought a few games for wii and xbox, but i refuse to pay out the ass for shitty titles that have no dev team and an astronomical budget. every console has only ever had about 5 or less games that are actually WORTH buying. if i'm gonna drop $60 every time i want to get a new game, i sure as hell better be getting my money's worth, and its rarely ever possible.

    thats why i love my pc. because i built the damn thing so its not illegal to put the hardware in that does what i want from the get-go

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    mdm-adph, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 12:03pm

    Re: you know you are a pirate when....

    Wait... what?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    SimonTek (profile), Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 12:04pm

    Nice

    B E A utiful. We can't afford education, but we can waste federal money on a raid. lovely

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 12:21pm

    Lol, I agree SimonTek

    Maybe Homeland Security should spend a bit of time checking this out - http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/08/researchers-ana.html

    Why do I have a feeling they won't even look into it? :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Ben, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Get me my brown pants!

    Yes, I need brown pants, too. I legitimately purchased a hamburger and I am currently modifying the product as we speak.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 12:47pm

    Well there's no money in chasing terrorists, unless they happen to come from or at least be suspected of coming from an oil rich nation the US can invade to steal their resour....I mean liberate their people.

    Long live Corporate America.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 1:02pm

    Re:

    "every console has only ever had about 5 or less games that are actually WORTH buying"

    I think you bulls-eyed the problem. 5 games out of god only knows how many. The creators of the other games are asking themselves "why aren't our games selling? They can't suck because we made them so it must be piracy."

    I have a modded xbox. I didn't steal the system, I got it for free because my dad purchased a $5000 peace of software. (only because I could put linux on it, If not I would have a gamecube) Since then I have probably payed over $2000 for games and accessories, gave my sister her own Xbox, who in turn purchased games and accessories for it, purchased an Xbox 360 and spent a few grand on games and accessories for it too. All because you can put Linux on the original Xbox. I don't pirate my games, I used the mod to play videos from my file server (I'm not paying $600-$1000 for a media center extender that only works with WMV.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Dubya, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 1:03pm

    Re: Nice

    We? My kids are doin' just fine, thanksforasking.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 1:29pm

    prius pirates

    What about all those hydrid pirates that converted their cars to be Plugable. Think of all the billions the oil companies are loosing because of these hackers. I am sure they broke a few DMCA laws to optimize the Prius software (or firmware, whatever) to run 100% electric whenever possible.

    That was a joke, but who would be surprised if car companies take a page from the software companies and start blaiming their customers for their own short comings and lack of profits. They might was well jump on the DMCA band wagon like everyone else.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 1:36pm

    what is the connection to money laundering?

    i get selling overpriced goods to launder money i.e. you need to transfer money to me for a drug deal, so i sell you a car worth $100 for $10,000.

    but since most modchips sell for less than $100 and the purveyors have lots of trouble keeping them in stock... how do you use them to launder money?

    also, what wisdom is there using the sale of an item that is illegal in a number places (modchips) to launder money for other illegal activities? that's like using your street corner pot business as a front for your heroine operation... universally stupid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    BiffA Zorcho 909, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 1:54pm

    Ya...sure
    good excuse money grubbers!
    and people are still poor and dieing from WAR and your there making lies just to TRICK our goverment just so you could fill your pockets!!
    You disgust me

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Bill, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 2:17pm

    Homeland Security = Gestapo?

    Is it just me, or do these ever-increasing violations of our civil rights by Bush's Department of Homeland Security smack of actions by Hitler's Gestapo prior to and during WWII? I can't believe the system of checks and balances has eroded to the point where the executive branch can just point at somebody or something they don't like and make up some idiotic reason to arrest folks, and it's completely LEGAL! The biggest campaign contributers and lobbyists (MPA, RIAA, big oil, pharmaceutical companies, etc) are able to coerce our top leaders to "take care of" people they don't happen to like and it just happens with no recourse for citizens and no accountability. We should seriously be really afraid of the direction this country is headed. Just for saying this, they could legally call me a threat and lock me away. Basically, if you are educated enough to actually notice how they are slowly turning this country into a police state, you are considered a "threat" in their eyes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Norman619, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Re: Nice

    Are they? Chances are they are at the same level as other US students. Behind students in other developed countries.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Mr Man, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 2:36pm

    Re: you know you are a pirate when....

    "What if I pack a ps3 with c4 and add a mod chip that makes it blow after 3 hours or 3 days of play? Is it possible… yes it is. This is the world we live in so get used to it or move to another country"

    What? That doesn't even make any sense... What if I wire a VCR up to blow in 3 hours? Ban them too. Alarm clock? Better get it as well. Don't forget those evil kitchen timers! Also, you do know that I could use my truck to transport said items. Better outlaw that too just in case I decide to get uppity.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Sneeje, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Re: you know you are a pirate when....

    I agree. Wait... what? On what planet do you live on where there are options to move and the politics are somehow different? You might want to watch BBC World News for a while or read some non-US newssites before you make such a statement.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Jeff, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 2:40pm

    ORLY

    "These crimes cost legitimate businesses billions of dollars annually and facilitate multiple other layers of criminality, such as smuggling, software piracy and money laundering."

    Sooo any day now, we'll be seeing the Federales shutting down gas stations, liquor stores, pet stores that sell dogs, Wal-Marts, my house, truck stops, bars, pawn shops, sporting goods stores and grocery stores...right?...and then raiding the houses of all of their customers...right? After all, we wanna remain consistent and protect all of the fuckin' loser-ass kids in this country from everything that could possibly open doors to things that could potentially harm them...right?

    THIS IS WHY I DO DRUGS.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Norman619, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 2:41pm

    Re:

    Please show us where the US stole the resources. I get so tired of bullshit liek this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Norman619, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 2:44pm

    Re: ORLY

    You do drugs? This expalins a lot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Justine, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Nice

    I agree, SimonTek. I am closing my eyes, sticking my fingers in my ears and playing possum for the next 536 days, 6 hours and 14 minutes, praying to God that I'll wake up and find out that the past six years of my life have been a Patrick Duffy/Dallas style bad dream. Our priorities are upside down.

    We STILL haven't found Osama freaking Bin Ladin, but man, we got those chip modders, those damned stinking no-good commies. Lock the little bastards up and throw away the key. Today they're modding game chips: tomorrow, they're flying airplanes into buildings. Yeah. Someone get this guy out of office before he does any more damage to America, please.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 3:03pm

    The headline for this particular article on the subject was too much to bear - Homeland Security Makes US Safer From Gaming Pirates. (http://www.technewsworld.com/story/gaming/58641.html)

    Safer, right. Fear not!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Homeland Security = Gestapo?

    Absolutely on target, Bill - and well said.

    George Orwell only missed his guess by about 17 years - 1984 vs 2001.

    It also reminds me of The Green Frog Metaphor:
    Placed in boiling hot water, he struggles to get free.
    Placed in cool water that is warmed slowly, he is too weak to get out by the time he realizes that he's in trouble.

    Only possible because people don't read history (or much else) anymore, combined with rampant partisanship.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    reed, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 3:58pm

    Re: Re: Show me the stolen goods

    "Please show us where the US stole the resources. I get so tired of bullshit liek this."

    Are you serious Norman? Or are you just trolling or stupid? Maybe both...

    We have stolen and guarded so many resources that are not our own it isn't funny. For one we took the majority of this country away from the rightful owners the Native Americans. We now control the majority of the oil production in Iraq.

    Really I don't know where you are coming from. Perhaps you should try picking up a history book and study it to find out the not so nice truth about our country.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Charles Griswold, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 5:31pm

    Re: Re: ORLY

    You do drugs? This expalins a lot.
    I don't do illegal drugs. I just buy them to help support poor Columbian families.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Buzz, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 6:23pm

    ROFL!!

    Man, the comments alone were worth submitting this article to Techdirt! You guys make me laugh. (Seriously, my wife came in wondering what the heck I was cracking up for. She liked the comment about Osama.) My favorite part from the cited article is Microsoft's statement:

    "This is an important step in the continuing fight against piracy and the threat it presents to the global economy and consumers throughout the world."

    I never knew that piracy presented a threat to the global economy. Oh, thank you, Microsoft, for saving us!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    matt, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 11:56pm

    OMG

    i can't wait til all the car manufacturers start going after edelbrock, and all the other companies that make mods to vehicles, to make them do what they werent meant to. everyone knows that a honda civic is not designed to do a 10 sec. quarter mile. this makes me angry

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    is it a crime?, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 7:51am

    My neighbors kid modified his civic

    It sounds like a vacuum cleaner, scrapes the curb when pulling in, and vibrates like a blown speaker when playing the latest Britney Spears, or who ever these kids listen to these days. I'm glad DHS is involved, I feel safer, just like when the FBI can't keep an illegal immigrant from sneaking into the San Onofre Nuclear plant...by falling asleep in a train car!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Tyr, Sep 11th, 2007 @ 1:33pm

    Screwdriver

    If anything that can help circumvent copy protection then goodbye screwdrivers! Can you imagine how hard it would be to mod an Xbox without on of these puppies. And I used a half melted pen to open my gamecube. Pens can now help bypass copywrite protection. And don't get me started about the internet. And of course the modders went to School.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This