Comcast Screws Up And Targets Innocent Customer In P2P Dragnet

from the cut-'em-off dept

Davis Freeberg writes "As if the prospect of having the big telcos looking over your shoulder wasn't bad enough, we're already seeing reports of Comcast targeting innocent customers in DRM stings.

After receiving a takedown notice from Comcast's DRM squad, John Aprigliano had to spend an hour dealing with them, in order to prove his innocence. Apparently, Comcast wasn't able to tell that one of his old modems was really being used by someone else. Lucky for him, he's a network engineer and knew the right questions to ask, but sooner or later someone will end up losing their internet access over this kind of screw up. If Comcast wants to be the top P2P cop, shouldn't they be able to accurately identify between copyright infringers and their customers. So far they aren't off to a very good start."


Doesn't that make you feel comfortable now that Comcast has indicated its willingness to cut off internet access for file sharers? Once again, it would be great if we could implement a reverse three strikes policy, where three false accusations by the entertainment industry or an ISP leads to them losing their internet access.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 11:00am

    DRM stings?!

    Do you mean DMC stings? As in the digital millennium copyright act? Digital rights management doesn't make a lot of sense in this context.

     

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    Freedom, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 11:04am

    Really? Innocent?

    An engineering type just happens to have his modem in use by someone else? Sounds a bit fishy to me on the surface.

    I'm assuming he is only paying for one account. As such only one modem's MAC/ID (whatever) would be associated with his account. If someone else was using it, what was he using and why was it authorized. On the surface, sounds like there is more to this story.

    With that said, I do think that before they accuse someone, that they need to have 100% firm details that can be supported/defended in court. At the least they should have the MAC address of the router/firewall or if possible the MAC address of the offending PC and verify this before moving forward.

    Unfortunately, I think the proof will come down to the user along with the cost. Including those that don't really understand what they are doing. I can see lots of families that have no idea about how this works, having their home systems seed a copyright'd work and not even know it or fulling understand what that means.

    Interesting times ahead...

    Freedom

     

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      identicon
      Sounds reasonable, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 11:21am

      Re: Really? Innocent?

      In the linked article.
      "As it turns out, the offending cable modem, identified by hardware MAC address, was no longer in his possession. Having been redeployed by Comcast after he moved."
      This does sound reasonable. I turned my cable modem back in when I terminated my cable internet service last fall. A friend on mine was pissed with the cable provider when he got a modem that was obviously used when she signed up for service a few years ago.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 11:32am

      Re: Really? Innocent?

      i had a similar problem with videotron (ISP in montreal).

      when i moved i just got new modem but they "forgot" to remove my old modem from my profile, who ever was using my old modem stoped paying or failed to return it they tried to charge me $300, but after several hrs talking to customer support they realized there error.

       

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      Chris S, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 11:55am

      Re: Really? Innocent?

      And that assumes that someone isn't spoofing that MAC address

       

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      Luci, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 10:18pm

      Re: Really? Innocent?

      Having worked for them when they were AT&T Broadband, I have to say that this happens more often than they would ever willingly admit. They leave such details to be transferred off accounts by customer service personnel who are not properly trained for all the titchy technical details they are expected to handle, or they expect field technicians to remember to call in both new and old information when they swap out a modem. Sad to see this hasn't changed much over the last ten years.

       

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    sendeth, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 11:13am

    wtf?

    "An engineering type just happens to have his modem in use by someone else? Sounds a bit fishy to me on the surface." -freedom

    "Apparently, Comcast wasn't able to tell that one of his old modems was really being used by someone else." - the above article

    did you even read it? note the words, old modem. it was a modem he used to have and no longer does. you need to help yourself to a book.

    and as for cable records, i have worked for at&t, charter, falcon, media one, tci, and a couple others. i have been sent to disconnect houses that have been torn down for more than 20 years. that particular incident happened in a rural system outside of missouri. and don't even try to rely on records near any beach or other body of water. you are better off using witching stick to find your house. and that isn't even getting to the data part of the job.

     

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      ehrichweiss, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 11:35am

      Re: wtf?

      I can confirm the part about anything near a beach or body of water. I used to manage tech support for a small cable company in Georgetown, SC. There were clients calling about no internet service who hadn't been listed as customers for 3 years.

       

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      Freedom, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 7:53pm

      Re: wtf?

      Sendeth,

      From the Article:

      "Apparently, Comcast wasn't able to tell that one of his old modems was really being used by someone else."

      "Lucky for him, he's a network engineer and knew the right questions to ask"

      According to these statements in the article we know the following:

      1 - It was HIS old modem.
      2 - He was an 'engineering type'
      3 - His old modem was being actively being used on the Comcast Network.
      4 - He has some sort of connection with this modem since it was 'his old modem'.

      So with that in mind, I have no problem with my statement of:

      "An engineering type just happens to have his (old) modem in use by someone else? Sounds a bit fishy to me on the surface." -freedom

      I don't know why that desires a WTF, but on the surface, it DOES sound fishy.

      Why wasn't the modem deactivated?
      Who was the person using the old modem?
      Did he give it away, did he throw it away, does he still have it?
      Were they able to track the modem down and find its location?

      At the least, you have someone (that he probably knows?) getting free Internet service. At the worst, you have a knowledgable engineering type that knows you can plug in multiple modems in your home and got lucky when they didn't deactivate the old unit. Maybe he keeps one going just to do mass file transfers and the other open for his normal stuff ??? I know if my old modem was open that I'd used both and load balance in a heartbeat!

      Bottom line, engineers have knowledge, and knowledge is power, and power is almost always 'abused' at some point by those that have it. The story has enough holes that 'on the surface' the story sounds a bit fishy to me about his innocence.

      In you regards to your comment:

      >> note the words, old modem. it was a modem he used to have and no longer does.

      I'm sorry, old modem does not mean a modem he doesn't have. Old means no longer current or implies the modem I used to USE at best, but it does not by any means mean that he no longer has it. I have an old system and a new one, but I still use both. This doesn't mean that I no longer have my old system...

      In addition, it is an assumption that the modem is being used by someone else in the article and one that the person being accussed of is putting forth. There is no actual proof of this except for his word. No where was there a reference that they actually tracked down the person responsible, just that the accussed was able to tech talk enough reasonable doubt that Comcast let the issue drop and I'm sure 10 seconds later disabled that 'old modem'.

      Freedom

      P.S. My point isn't that Comcast is in the right, just that this person may not be innocent as claimed.

       

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        identicon
        Holy Crap, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 9:09pm

        Re: Re: wtf?

        What ? Did you read the linked story ?
        I think you missed the part where the modem in question was returned to Comcast and subsequently redeployed by Comcast to some other (unknown) customer.


        Freedom -> "Bottom line, engineers have knowledge, and knowledge is power, and power is almost always 'abused' at some point by those that have it."

        What is this all about ? Seems you have some issues.

         

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 12:30pm

    There will be a reverse 3 strikes rule..

    All you need to do is create a website that is copyrighted along with 3 instant redirected links also copyrighted. Then get the record industry executive to surf to it. Boom, instant copyright infringement case which can be used to shut down the personal account for the infringer- who in this case would be the record industry executive. It would take a bit of work, but someone will figure out how to do it.

    Also imagine if you attacked this in mass. Then we can begin to shut down the internet completely because no one will have access. Actually it would be pretty funny to do this. You could flood Comcast with copyright infringement takedown requests for all customers. All you need is for one really popular website to do the copyright website trick. Comcast can then choose: 1)Shut down access to all customers or 2)Give the world evidence of collusion and a make a strong RICO case- through not treating copyright takedown requests equally.

    If someone was clever enough and good enough in the courtroom, this could become the worst nightmare for Comcast ever imagined. These could be a business ending moves if the wrong decisions are made...

     

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    Steve R. (profile), Jan 30th, 2009 @ 1:31pm

    Due Process Anyone?

    Issues that require continuing highlighting.

    1. Where is the due process? You are deemed guilty and disconnected from the internet without so much as a chance to explain what may have happened.

    2. Now if you are not guilty, who do you call? What sort of monetary compensation should you get for the lost service?.

    ISP's such as Comcast should not be disconnecting people, but if this somehow becomes the "norm", we need the above questions answered. All we here is their laments about their lost revenue, but we hear nothing about our rights.

     

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    identicon
    RD, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 1:50pm

    Not surprising

    I agree with the invective of everyone here about how its a completely unfair and one-sided policy. But should it be very surprising? Not really. After all, you, the individual consumer, have NO rights to anything. Big business, corporations and the govt hold all the cards and get all the benefits in these arrangements. Its like if you ever owe money, say for a student loan, and they sic the bloodsucking scumbag collection agent lawyers on you. They will go completely around your rights. You are entitled to face your accuser, and demand a detailed list of the debt you supposedly owe. But when they talk to you, they deny you are entitled to ANYTHING. They can refuse to send you ANY proof of the debt, and then they can just go into your bank account and/or garnish your wages by getting a judge to sign off on it WITHOUT YOU PRESENT OR EVEN NOTIFIED OF THIS HAPPENING. Yes, thats right, you have NO RIGHT to due process whatsoever, but THEY have the right to TAKE whatever they want and not even have to notify you that is what they are going to do. They can even threaten to come take your belongings (like a car) to pay what you owe, even if it means you would then no longer be able to hold a job. The laws support this, and are completely biased in favor of the debt holder/corp/business/govt against YOU. If they can do that, why would a puny ISP have to give you any right to defend yourself or refute the allegations against you?

     

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    identicon
    GG, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 2:02pm

    recycled equipment

    My parents had a similar incident (with used equipment) from the cable company. They got a "new" DVR box and had some sound issues. So I was looking through it and saw recorded shows that I know my parents don't watch. When I showed them the recordings, they were very surprised this "new" box wasn't so new. :facepalm:

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 2:11pm

    Sounds like a bad business model. I have comcast, if they cut off my internet I would cut off my cable and phone with them. There are other choices.

    I also agree with RD. I signed up for a couple of college courses, and then unsigned over a month before I had too. They said I never unsigned. Everything was computerized with no printouts. Even if I would have had a printout nothing was mentioned for about a year. I supposedly owed, and they just happily garnished my wages for 2 months for courses i never attended. Total BS

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 5:53pm

    Consequences ?

    And Comcrap does not face any consequences to their obviously inept attempt ?

    Pathetic.

     

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    identicon
    Erv Server, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 6:55pm

    lawsuit time

    we need some lawsuits against Comcast and the like now to bring all this into the national media...more coverage the better

     

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    identicon
    Bye Bye, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 10:11pm

    Comcast

    This year we have seen Comcast manipulate customer speeds, cap their downloads, become an Internet cop for the RIAA if that wasn't bad enough. I just got a notice on this months bill, that my $102 monthly access to Comcast, is being jacked up to #136.90, so as of Feb 21,2009 I will no longer be a Comcast customer. Enough is enough! Comcast doesn't seem to realize they aren't the only game in town anymore (read into that FIOS) were are in the beginning of a Depression (I don't care what the politicians say, my tax man seems to know more than them) and their jacking rates up! I swear before I pay their rates I will go back to dial-up and put an antenna back up on the roof, same to FIOS if they jack my rates up after a year. F'n teaser rates? Tease this!

     

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    identicon
    Dan, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 10:55pm

    How about a lawsuit for interfering with interstate commerce?

     

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    Steve R. (profile), Feb 1st, 2009 @ 2:30pm

    SWAT Mistaken Use of Deadly Force

    Will the "war on piracy" follow the same path as the "war on drugs"? Who knows? Here is a chilling precursor.

    The Washington Post reports: What a SWAT team did to Cheye Calvo's family may seem extreme. But decades into America's war on drugs, it's business as usual.

     

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