Guy Who Helped Mod Cable Modems Arrested By The FBI

from the freedom-to-tinker? dept

What a world we live in: if you tinker too much with the electronic equipment you buy, you might get charged with a crime. That seems to be what happened to a guy in Oregon who helps mod cable modems. Now, clearly, some people can and do use modded cable modems to access cable service that they haven't paid for, but there are plenty of legitimate reasons to hack your own hardware or to buy modded hardware. Just like unlocking a mobile phone should be perfectly legal, the same is true of unlocking a legally purchased cable modem. As the article linked above explains, most of the indictment seems to focus on the actions of others in this guy's forums, which should lead to an easy Section 230 dismissal (as he shouldn't be responsible for their actions). The only "questionable" issue for the guy is a request for certain information that could potentially have been used to gain unauthorized access -- but that's not evidence that he actually did so. All in all, this seems like an attempt to crack down on anyone interfering with artificial locks put on legally purchased hardware by the cable companies. And, if that's the case, why is the FBI involved at all? Shouldn't this just be a civil issue involving the cable companies?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 8:56am

    It's clear that his mods hurt the business models of cable ISPs. And we all know that protecting business models is more important than any constitutional right a citizen might have.

     

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  2.  
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    Ryan, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 8:59am

    Rhetorical Question

    The answer is obviously yes, but in a country where the knee-jerk reaction to everything is that the government ought to do something about it, nobody much cares about these cases. Few people seem to care about the Constitution or the rule of law except when it is convenient for them or their political party.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 9:06am

    there are plenty of legitimate reasons to hack your own hardware or to buy modded hardware

    If you are hacking it to make it better, within the limits of the service agreement, true. If you are modding it to run on your own cable network, true. However, modding it to "borrow" internet access? Sorry, that would be stealing.

    It doesn't compare with unlocking a phone, as an unlocked phone is just a small paperweight without paid service. Theft of services is theft, plain and simple.

     

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  4.  
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    C.T., Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 9:07am

    Come again?

    "most of the indictment seems to focus on the actions of others in this guy's forums, which should lead to an easy Section 230 dismissal"

    I am not sure how anyone could read that indictment and come away from it with this opinion. The heart of the indictment revolves around Harris selling software and hardware used to circumvent TPMs in cable modems. It is somewhat unclear why this action wasn't brought under the DMCA. In any event, based on the indictment, it is unlikely that the CDA will play any role in this case.

     

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  5.  
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    DocMenach (profile), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 9:12am

    Re: AC

    AC, did you really think you were stating something new with your comment? You pretty much repeated what Mike said. He said that while some people use it for the purpose of accessing unauthorized internet service, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to hack a cable modem.

     

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    hank mitchell, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 9:13am

    what exact state or federal laws allow for police action in what is a civil dispute?

    that's what i was wondering watching that 60 minutes thing, where they kept showing people getting arrested for copyright violations -- what exact state or federal laws allow for police action in what is a civil dispute? also, when content creators describe file sharing as "illegal" is that really the correct term? i mean if it's a civil matter between two private parties, really all you are doing is potentially opening your self up to civil litigation, you are not committing a crime, so should that be called "illegal"?

     

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  7.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 9:14am

    Re:

    "Sorry, that would be stealing."

    So arrest the people who use the modems to steal not the guy who modded them.

    Do you arrest the guy who makes and sells crow bars or the person who buys and then uses the crow bar to break into cars and houses to steal?

     

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  8.  
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    Jawo (profile), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 9:16am

    Ima Fish couldn't have said it better. Its all about protecting the corporations to ensure they remain successful. Hell no one has invented anything useful by tinkering around!

     

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  9.  
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    wirtes (profile), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 9:25am

    Streisand Effect, Anyone?

    I didn't know that this was even possible. Now I do.

    Wanna bet we see a spike in modded cable modems?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re: AC

    The "legitimate reasons" thing is the standard worn excuse used by torrent people (there are ligit reasons to use P2P) and music downloaders (we are just testings, it's our backup, the dog ate my original copy). In the end, it's a slack response to an obviously attempt to get something for nothing.

    Mike comments are pretty much set up to soften what this guy did, which is break the law and help others to do the same.

     

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  11.  
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    PaulT (profile), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: Re: AC

    "The "legitimate reasons" thing is the standard worn excuse used by torrent people (there are ligit reasons to use P2P) and music downloaders (we are just testings, it's our backup, the dog ate my original copy). In the end, it's a slack response to an obviously attempt to get something for nothing."

    I get Linux distros for nothing through P2P. I also get CC-licences music for nothing. Anything wrong with that? No, because I have the full permission of the rights holders.

    Do you think that it's up to utorrent.com or The Pirate Bay to police my downloads in case I download something else? If yes, then you obviously must think that AT&T should be liable if I make a threatening phone call, or that UPS should be sued if I send a pirated DVD through their system.

    If no, then why do you have a problem with a guy modding modems for potentially legal uses? Surely he should be privy to the same protections as everybody else I mentioned above?

     

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  12.  
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    DocMenach (profile), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re: Re: AC

    A lockpick manufacturer is not liable when his lockpicks are used to break into a house. The person who writes the directions for the lockpicks is not liable. The only person liable is the person who actually broke into the house. It is the same idea in this situation.

     

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    Joe Szilagyi (profile), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 9:44am

    One problem

    Is that you can't steal actual services. If you use Comcast, for example, and you pay $30 for 10Mbps download speeds, you can't use a modded modem to get say 20Mbps for that $30. Their network, their rules. Same as Techdirt--if Mike doesn't like your comments, he nukes them; he doesn't like your IP range hitting the site faster than 200Kbps, he can throttle it, or he can block access. Or paywall the site.

    Good, bad business? Sure, of course. But it's his playground, that he owns, and his rules.

    The guy was apparently selling these modded modems, which is a no-no.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re: Re: AC

    Your argument is closed minded and quite idiotic. You state that a person who makes the tool is liable for the actions of the users.

    He didn't use the hardware to steal the service, his users used his work to steal the service. Holding him liable is like holding HowStuffWorks liable for it's lock picking article.

     

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  15.  
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    DCX2, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re: Re: AC

    If this guy is a genuine geek, then I don't think he broke the law. The people who hacked the Wii steadfastly refused to publish their exploit because they didn't want pirates to get a hold of it, even though they eventually did and managed to pirate VC games. There are people who like to tinker, you know.

     

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    Kevin, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 9:52am

    Why is the FBI involved? because there are civil AND criminal penalties for violating parts of 1201 of the DMCA, which is alleged here.

    § 1204. Criminal offenses and penalties

    (a) In General. — Any person who violates section 1201 or 1202 willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain —

    (1) shall be fined not more than $500,000 or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both, for the first offense; and

    (2) shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both, for any subsequent offense.

    (b) Limitation for Nonprofit Library, Archives, Educational Institution, or Public Broadcasting Entity. — Subsection (a) shall not apply to a nonprofit library, archives, educational institution, or public broadcasting entity (as defined under section 118(g)).

    (c) Statute of Limitations. — No criminal proceeding shall be brought under this section unless such proceeding is commenced within five years after the cause of action arose.


    www.nextgencopyright.blogspot.com

     

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  17.  
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    Freedom Cops, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 9:55am

    Re:

    That sounds like pinko talk, citizen, let's see your papers.

     

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  18.  
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    Brooks (profile), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 9:55am

    Yep, too far

    This seems like a pretty clear case of a wrongdoer who one could argue was tiptoeing along a series of fine lines and who should therefore be in the clear. That seems to be what Mike's arguing.

    But you've got a guy operating forums whose express purpose is to facilitate theft of service (very different than copyright non-theft we hear so much about), and who performed and sold hardware modifications expressly designed for theft of service.

    I just don't see how there's any argument for his innocence or indemnity that passes the smell test. Call him an unauthorized reseller (still illegal for utilities), call him a warranty voider and mattress tag remover... he, his customers, and pretty much all of us understand that his intent was not innocent.

    The worst part is, as I've typed this out, I've challenged myself with "how is this different than The Pirate Bay"? And while clearly there are some differences, working out that model has made me a little more (still not very!) sympathetic to the MPAA et al. They see TPB like most of us see this guy: clearly profiting from selling someone else's sweat of the brow (note that I don't buy the SotB argument, but you've gotta understand it to have any of this make any sense at all).

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re:

    I would arrest the owners of the cars and those houses because that would send a message. You shouldn't let people break into your things.

     

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  20.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 10:00am

    Wire fraud sounds pretty specific...

    and this guy probably did not commit wire fraud himself. If they were able to prove he instructed people on how to illegally tap services, then maybe the conspiracy charges would stand up to scrutiny. But it seems like wire fraud is an act one must commit in order to be found guilty... in a perfect world.

    I think the Feds are making a good case for dismissal by having an overzealous hard-on for this guy.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 10:10am

    There are legitimate uses.

    For example, increasing the QoS class for time-sensitive applications such as VoIP and video. Try explaining this to a Customer Service Keyboard Jockey, and they'll likely say that they don't guarantee a connectivity, and send a tech out to the house.

    There are people who had techs out to their house five or six times to "test the line" with a spectrum analyzer, put in a half-block's worth of new cable from three houses down, replace equipment, all before a truly qualified tech was dispatched and changed the service class level at the head end. These types of service calls are not cheap, and I imagine it costs $100 or more each time to send a tech out.

    Plus they are a disruption to customers who have to take time off, neighbors who have to to secure pets and have their backyard easement dug up, or wire-restrung on utility poles.

    But checking or changing the QoS level is often the last thing after $1500 in service calls, and a customer takes a combined week off from work to be available for a tech.

    Mods could provide more information and be more valuable than a Keyboard Jockey's "troubleshooting manual".

     

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  22.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 10:28am

    socialist state

    No guarantee with a tech anyway. The disruption to other customers is null when you consider basic cable is just a simple splitter anyway to hotels/motels; cable companies simply trust the hotel to give them the right # rooms.

    I really get a laugh that cable theft ads that have the guy walking through the checkout line and refuses to pay and it gets passed on to the next in line.

    Next time you think about why modding is becoming a illegal activity look at what the fairness doctrine is and why there try to re-implement it. Then go answer why the Obama Deception Documentary via YouTube has 4.5 million hits. Or you can simply accept that the wonderful U S of A is going socialist.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 10:35am

    Re:

    You are missing the point... he is not the one who actually stole the service.. all he did was the modding

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 10:45am

    Re: Re:

    OK...so how about the gay that converts a semi and converts it to a full auto and sells it to a crack dealer? I mean, he modded it it. It the crack dealer that will kill somebody.....

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:01am

    Re: socialist state

    Socialism. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:01am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "the gay that converts a semi"

    This confuses my sexuality.

     

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    martyinarizona, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:04am

    Arrested??

    Guy Arrested? ARRESTED?? Wow, the FBI must really have little or nothing to do up in Oregon. I could understand investigated, but arrested? There has got to be more to this than simple modding a modem, (for third parties). There is nothing so distasteful as government intrusion. If third parties are stealing arrest them, but not the guy who modified the modem. He is not the criminal any more than an auto mechanic that modifies a hot rod for someone who then speeds down the city streets at night. Arrest the speeder, not the mechanic.

     

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  28.  
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    PRMan, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:09am

    He had a business selling modded cable modems...

    He had a business selling modded cable modems with text around it saying "$ave money each month on your cable bill!"

    He was not arrested simply for modding, but for selling people modded boxes with the intent to steal service.

    What's next? An article of outrage over a guy selling hacked electric meters to all his neighbors?

    "He should be allowed to hack his electric meter! There's nothing wrong with that!"

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:10am

    Re: Re: socialist state

    I love socializing!

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: AC

    No. It is not, because most states regulate lockpick manufacture, sale, and use, regardless of the fact that they can be used for lawful means.

    This is a really simple argument and you (and Mike) are being laughably irrational. Virtually every mod this guy was doing was intended to be used to steal service. Virtually every torrent on TPB is intended for copyright infringement (they even make nice browseable categories so that you can infringe easier). These are starkly different from Google, which allows you to put in a ridiculously long query string which most people don't understand so that you can get unlawful material.

    It's really a battle of percentages. The only legitimate battle I see right now in any sort of third party liability is with smart cards. DirecTV goes after smart card tech buyers and sellers accusing them of satellite signal theft, even though there are tons of other legitimate applications that smart cards are used for. It's these degrees of unlawfulness that we're talking about. Google usually lawful. Smart cards also usually lawful. Bittorrent in general slightly less lawful. TPB very unlawful. Modding cable modems very unlawful.

     

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  31.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:14am

    Re: Come again?

    "The heart of the indictment revolves around Harris selling software and hardware used to circumvent TPMs in cable modems. It is somewhat unclear why this action wasn't brought under the DMCA. In any event, based on the indictment, it is unlikely that the CDA will play any role in this case."

    The CDA protects service providers (the guy that runs the forums and sells equipment with legitimate uses) from illegal actions by others who are beyond his control. Without knowing particular circumstances, is there anything inherently illegal about circumventing a TPM?

    If I sell you a knife, and you use the knife to kill someone, can I be convicted of murder? If I sell you a permanent marker, and you use that marker to circumvent the copy protection of a CD, am I liable to copyright infringement?

     

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  32.  
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    R. Miles (profile), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:15am

    Re:

    because there are civil AND criminal penalties for violating parts of 1201 of the DMCA, which is alleged here.
    The DMCA Section 1201 is about circumvention over copyright works.

    A modem is not protecting copyright works, thus, can not be covered by Section 1201.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:26am

    sbhacker.net is better anyway. I'm sure they will be next.

     

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  34.  
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    Jake, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:28am

    AC

    Do you think that it's up to utorrent.com or The Pirate Bay to police my downloads in case I download something else?

    If they don't, who will?

     

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  35.  
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    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:44am

    Re:

    Yeah, but the guy didn't hack it to steal stuff, nor did he do it to help others steal stuff.

    It's a one-to-one comparison with an unlocked phone. He did exactly the same thing as unlocking a phone - he provided alternate firmware.

     

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  36.  
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    martyinarizona, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:47am

    Re: Re: socialist state

    You just don't get it do you? The current administration is the closest this nation has ever come to Marxist socialist/communism. Get your head out of the sand and take a look at what's going on in Washington DC. Obama has proposed one socialist program after another. Health care that will socialize medicin and grant government intrusion into everybody's lives. Do you want some beaurocrat reviewing your erectile dysfunction? He/she will probably send you a popsicle stick and a roll of duct tape. The only proctologist on the plan will be a guy named Gus from Roto Rooter. Then there is the Cap and Trade act. And a tax system designed to take from those with the ability to work and give to those unwilling to lift a hand for themselves. "from each according to his ability to each according to his need" That is straight out of Marx and Engles Communist Manifesto. You really are an Anonymous Coward, you Anonyous Coward.

     

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  37.  
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    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: AC

    Except that the guy isn't making lock-picks. He's making multi-tools that people are then converting to lock-picks on their own initiative.

    Just buying this guy's perfectly legit modems IS NOT what makes you able to steal services. You would have to take steps beyond that - illegitimate steps to further modify the device - before you could then steal services.

    THAT is why he has done nothing wrong.

     

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  38.  
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    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: AC

    "Modding cable modems very unlawful"

    Which law are you reading, cowterd? There's no law against flashing your cable modem.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:53am

    Re: Re: Re: AC

    What's that? You can use a car for legit reasons other than running over people and ignoring street signs? Wow, now that's the standard worn excuse used by speeders and others that enjoy vehicular manslaughter (boo hoo, I need a vehicle to bring injured people to hospitals and transport goods to a convenience store). In the end, it's a slack response to an obvious attempt to murder people.

     

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  40.  
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    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You trying to say gay people can't be into guns?

     

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  41.  
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    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Yep, too far

    "But you've got a guy operating forums whose express purpose is to facilitate theft of service"
    Sorry, but a "single damning message" does not equal the express purpose of the site. Unless you have a link that shows where this is expressed, we'll have to assume bullshit on this.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Pleas forgive me...total typo....

    'the guy that converts a semi to a full auto'

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    An analogy should be analogous. Maybe you can remember that for next time.

    A fully automatic weapon is illegal to own, possess, or manufacturer in the US. So in that circumstance the person who modded a semi-automatic weapon to be fully automatic could be charged and convicted. That's the law.

    However, in this current instance, unlocked modems are perfectly legal. There is no analogous law regarding cable modems as there are with automatic weapons. Accordingly, your analogy fails because the situations are completely different.

    Thanks for trying.

     

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  44.  
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    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 12:26pm

    Re: He had a business selling modded cable modems...

    "$ave money each month on your cable bill!" just proves that he was adding value, not that it was illegal. It just so happens that most providers charge you for device rental on their bill, which is not included in their advertised price except in the fine print.

    In some cases it's a couple bucks a month, so that this guy's modems would save you nothing. In other cases they artificially lower the price to look more competitive and bump up the auxiliary fees, including modem rent, to even things out.

    If you don't have to rent a modem, then you get a break. That's a good deal and a legit one.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: socialist state

    I actually live in Canada. Where we have "socialized" health care. Had it for many years, in fact. My mother and grandmother both got hip replacement surgery earlier this year, and have second ones scheduled once they're through the recovery period.

    Socialism. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

     

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  46.  
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    Kevin, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Re:

    Right, that teaches me to speak before I read the indictment :) my bad

    The Counts are:

    1) Conspiracy (18 USC 371) to commit Computer Fraud and Wire Fraud

    2) Aiding and Abetting Computer Fraud (18 USC 1030(a)(4)

    Counts 3 - 6) Aiding and Abetting Wire Fraud (18 USC 1343)

     

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  47.  
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    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 12:35pm

    Re: One problem

    "The guy was apparently selling these modded modems, which is a no-no."

    A no-no as in you don't like it, or a no-no as in a crime? Which code section? Hell, I'll meet you half way, which code?

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Fish...your fishing. The analogy stands. Just because you wanna smash atoms and play semantics, doesn't make you correct. The point I am making is understood by just about everyone, including you.

    and with all due respect, a legal owned item converted to steal, corrupt and hinder a paid service can be considered illegal. just as a legally owned hand gun with the serial number removed becomes illegal... that's why this discussion is taking place, to discuss and determine when said 'tinkerer' crosses the line and enables the theft of service.

    so why don't you go and count grains of sand.....

     

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  49.  
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    Kevin, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 12:39pm

    Indictment

    I uploaded the Indictment, you can view and download it HERE : http://nextgencopyright.blogspot.com/2009/11/cable-modem-modder-indicted.html

     

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  50.  
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    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, 2-6 are citing him as an accessory. Where are the principals?

    Ubi non est principalis, non potestesse accessorius.

    You can't just charge him as an accessory on the presumption that crimes were committed.

     

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  51.  
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    jayinmissouri(still AC), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 1:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: socialist state

    I think that Roosevelt's administration is arguably the closest this country ever came to socialism in that the direction of the country's fiscal policy experienced it's most dramatic shift. You "pure" market capitalists are funny. Do your cause a favor and don't use any government subsidized services; see how far that gets you.

    btw, (hypocrisy coming) try to stay on topic people.

     

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  52.  
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    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oops, the pdf only loaded the first 3 pages the first time.

     

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  53.  
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    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Fish...your fishing."
    Coward, you're begging the question.

    "The analogy stands."
    Until you turned around and it sat down and took a shit.

    "The point I am making is understood by just about everyone, including you."
    No, the point he is making is well understood. Your point is embarrassingly fallacious.

    "and with all due respect, a legal owned item converted to steal, corrupt and hinder a paid service can be considered illegal."
    But that is not what tcniso was doing, certainly not what Harris was doing. All the verbiage of "hacking" in the indictment boils down to stuff that can be done legally and that required "DShocker" to commit actual illegal activity before being able to commit the principal offense.

    Like I said before - selling a multi-toll that can be ground down into a lockpick is nowhere in the same hemisphere as selling a lockpik, not even if you sell bench grinders.

     

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

  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sorry, but fail.

    I would suspect that the software in the cable modem is copyright. Decoding and or modifying it would be a DMCA quality violation. Distributing it, well... you know.

    It's also a question of ownership. If the modem is owned by the cable company (rented), then it's also modifying what is not yours. That too can be an issue.

    Just as important is the intent. Why would you modify your cable modem? Answer: To get more service, to get service for free, or to obtain what wasn't already permitted by your service provider.

    Intent brings us to the website. What is the intent? To help people to obtain services they are not normally entitled to or are not paying for.

    It's a nice little deal, exactly the type of conspiracy that the feds love.

     

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

  55.  
    identicon
    batch, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 2:28pm

    Re: AC

    The person doing the downloading. Duh. Its not like you can use the defense "everyone was doing it" and shirk responsibility for your own actions. I don't need a ban on rat poison to make sure I don't eat it. Its my responsibility to be aware that poison is bad for my health and to not ingest it or risk any possible consequences.

     

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

  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 2:37pm

    Re: AC

    If UPS doesn't open up every package they get to check for pirated goods, who will?

    If the police don't search every car using the city streets, just in case somebody has is bringing a couple of CDRs to a friend, who will?

    If AT&T doesn't monitor every phone call in the US for copyrighted music playing in the background, who will?

     

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

  57.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, you do fail, and you should be sorry.

    "Decoding and or modifying it would be a DMCA quality violation. Distributing it, well... you know."
    The DMCA makes specific provisions for modifying for interoperability. So if a user wants to use the device with another service, another device, or with otherwise incompatible software, then modding for this purpose is A-Okay (with the proviso that you're not circumventing copy protection - which this guy's software DID NOT do).

    "Ownership" - that CAN be an issue. It's not raised in this case, so let's move on.

    "Just as important is the intent."

    Other commenters have already addressed the simple fact that there are other legitimate uses for this type of modding. We don't need more cowbell, thank you.

    So, at this point the feds would need to establish actual intent as opposed to "well it's obvious, isn't it?" in order to distinguish this from a witch hunt.


    Now, there is one and only one matter of fact that has been alleged that says that a user with his user name at one time posted a request for MAC addresses. No other indicator of intent exists in this case (And no, the alleged conversations about the general topic of the illegal activity does not establish intent), only this one point of fact.

    Seeing that this is contrary to every single thing this guy has ever said about not ever wanting to be associated with illegal activities, I've got a feeling it wasn't him - but either way that one should be pretty easy to prove up.

    "Intent brings us to the website. What is the intent? To help people to obtain services they are not normally entitled to or are not paying for."

    As for the intent of the website, you're a dumbass. Trying to get better functionality out of your modem, including unlocking your modem for use with another provider in order to save some money is NOT illegal, at least not inherently so. Show me where you see that they encourage illegal activity, and I'll be happy to show you where you're confused.

     

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

  58.  
    identicon
    Jake, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 2:43pm

    I find it hard to believe, however, that Harris did not know that A) his work could be used to break the law and B) a great many -probably most- of his clients were going to use it to do just that.
    I don't buy his claims not to condone the use of his work for criminal purposes; if he was serious about that he would have deleted the threads on his forum telling people how to do it.

    I don't think he aided and abetted wire fraud in a way that should be indictable, but he saw other people doing so on his site with gear they were paying him to supply, and effectively shrugged and said "Not my problem."
    Real nice guy, huh?

     

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

  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 2:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Jason, what Question? I didnt ask one...

    If my point is so fallacious, then what point was I making?

    Lets stop parading free speech, et al, around for every asshats attempt to circumvent technology, and claim they did it for the good of the community. Yeah, while they charged you and earned a profit...

    don't get me wrong, there are legitimate uses for his hack, and there are illicit ones as well. All of which he was fully aware of. At what point does a person become culpable (sp?) for what they do?

     

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

  60.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Come again?

    No, the heart of the indictment is to use weasel words to cast a dark shadowy fog of "computer hacking" around perfectly legitimate activities just because someone else committed a crime and used Harris' tools in addition to his own illegal 'cracking' tools to commit a crime.

    Distributing spoofed MAC addresses? No question that'd be the illegal part. There is a question of fact related to Harris on this, but it's a pathetically vague relation, a shady allegation, and should make for easy repudiation (unless of course he is the guy that was sniffing around for MACs and then he's pretty much toast - again doubtful).

    Simply unlocking the modem? Legal activity.

     

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

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 3:02pm

    Wow, this is a cluster...

    Hmm. It looks like most cable modems (including Motorola) are based around only a few spec designs, that originate from from only a handful chip manufacturers like Broadcom.

    And it looks like Broadcom included in it's spec the ability for cable companies to customize the modem, including changing of the "root" password.

    If cable companies "own" the modem, why don't they ask the OEM for customizations such as a different root password, or hard-code the configuration/SFTP server? Do cable modem manufacturers offer this? Usually this type of customization is not difficult to do when your buying bulk quantities.

    But if someone's modding a modem bought at a store, it could be legal and provide non-infringing use. Answer to this is "Are they paying for service?"

    It's difficult to tell if a crime has been committed until someone uses a modd'ed cable modem without service.

    Until then, it looks like a very sloppy authentication spec, lazy modem manufacturers, and cablecos that don't know how to ask their OEM to make firmware customizations.

    Man, this is funny. Some of these cable modems come complete with jumpered pin-outs silk-screened on the pcboard.

    Hah.

     

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

  62.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 3:04pm

    Re:

    "I find it hard to believe, however, that Harris did not know that A) his work could be used to break the law and B) a great many -probably most- of his clients were going to use it to do just that."

    A. Not indictable, not even wrong. So could guns, rocks, and butter knives.
    B. Well since his work by itself DID NOT provide the means to do so, I think you can safely be converted. BELIEVE!

    BELIVE that it's legal to configure computers,

    BELIEVE that it's legal to make a locked computer configurable.

    OF COURSE it's not legal to spoof MACs. Whether it's legal to uncap depends on your TPM, but could also be illegal. HE DID NOT PROVIDE MACS AND HE DID NOT PROVIDE ILLEGAL CONFIGURATIONS OR HELP IN GETTING THOSE.

    Please don't encourage people to believe that simply tinkering around is illegal.

     

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

  63.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 3:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    http://tinyurl.com/yfyywmc

    Begging the question is what is so fallacious. If you don't know what that means, click above.

    As for parading asshats, Mr. Grand Marshal, the particular asshat in question only jacked around with technology. Somebody else did ALL the circumventing.

    All of the 'illicit uses' of this hack required actual illegal hacking beyond the legal hacking that this guy did - similar to modifying custom rifle parts to make them fully auto. The custom parts -> okay. The illegal mods

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Not The Same AC, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: AC

    I think someone is a shill. Trying to spew false numbers at us. Show us your numbers. Back them up.

     

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

  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 3:32pm

    Re: Wow, this is a cluster...

    Looking at screencaps, I'm quite impressed. This guy did an amazing job creating the web UI with as little flash memory the OEM made available.

    If Harris was Chinese or Indian, he'd probably be a senior engineer running their cable modem business. That's outsourcing for ya!

    Damn. Someone should give this guy a job. Maybe at a "real" manufacturer, like Cisco or Avaya.

     

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

  66.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    (hmm, that's odd. It didn't post completely)..the illegal mods

     

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

  67.  
    identicon
    Not The Same AC, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    At the time they actually break the law. He did nothing illegal. His hacks were entirely within the law. Thus, he is not responsible for the people who took the hacks further. There is where you are missing it. He did not make the further illegal hacks. This is such a basic point that you are frustrating people by trying to muddy the waters. It's like saying that a whiskey manufacturer is responsible for someone further distilling his whiskey to the point that it's almost lethal.

     

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

  68.  
    icon
    MarksAngel (profile), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: AC

    The "legitimate reasons" thing is the standard worn excuse used by torrent people (there are ligit reasons to use P2P) and music downloaders (we are just testings, it's our backup, the dog ate my original copy). In the end, it's a slack response to an obviously attempt to get something for nothing.

    There are in fact legitimate reasons to torrent. I torrent My Operating System Whenever there is a new release. And Where do I get the link for the torrent you might ask, why directly from the Operating systems websites.Almost Every single legitimate Linux Operating System releases torrents of their ISO's when when they release their OS, and hold breath this might come as a shock, it's COMPLETELY LEGAL.

    So I wouldn't say it's a slack response to anything there are many legitimate reasons to use torrents and their may well be many legitimate reasons to mod a cable modem

     

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

  69.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Damn, that's twice now! Anyhow, custom parts are okay, and illegal mods to those customizations are not, and what Harris offered was on the legal side, bottom line.

     

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

  70.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 4:12pm

    Re: Re: Wow, this is a cluster...

    No shit...
    This Ryan Harris fellow (pen name DerEngel) published a book in 2006. It's even available from Amazon.

    http://www.amazon.com/Hacking-Cable-Modem-What-Companies/dp/1593271018

    Forget Avaya. He needs a job at a real gear company like Lucent, Cisco, Juniper, f5 as Director of R&D or something.

    Or, maybe perhaps this whole thing is a cover for him to "disappear" so he could get a high-level job at the new CIA datacenter being built in Utah.

     

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

  71.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 6:04pm

    Re: Wow, this is a cluster...

    The reason the ISP are not doing anything is because the problem is really small compared to the cost it would take to update software on servers and push out new methods that would prevent it. Really all they have to do is follow the voip tftp method of pushing encrypted configs using a root password unique to each modem. But that also takes money and if it cost more to stop the theft than you are losing , why do it ?


    I do think that all information should be open. If someone tells how to hack a modem I think they should be allowed to publish it. Information should be free. If someone uses that information illegally then go after them, but don't kill the messenger.

     

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

  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 7:08pm

    Re: Wow, this is a cluster...

    If a house has a poor lock, is it more legal to break in? Is it more legal to hand a crow bar to someone and say "that house over there has a bad lock?"

    It doesn't even matter if the key is under the front mat, you aren't allowed in.

    Hah.

     

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

  73.  
    icon
    BearGriz72 (profile), Nov 3rd, 2009 @ 11:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: AC

    "The "legitimate reasons" thing is the standard worn excuse used by torrent people (there are legit reasons to use P2P) and music downloaders (we are just testings, it's our backup, the dog ate my original copy). In the end, it's a slack response to an obviously attempt to get something for nothing."
    MPAA/RIAA Shill says "Waaaaaaaa........"
    __________________________________________

    "No. It is not, because most states regulate lockpick manufacture, sale, and use, regardless of the fact that they can be used for lawful means"
    Really?
    http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=Lockpick
    Click on the 'Shopping' link or go to the Shopping results, Oh look, Dozens of Lock Picks available on the Internet. Many under $25
    __________________________________________

    "Sorry, but fail.

    I would suspect that the software in the cable modem is copyright. Decoding and or modifying it would be a DMCA quality violation. Distributing it, well... you know. "
    Oh look they broke out the DMCA
    The MPAA/RIAA's (etc) Favorite Toy
    __________________________________________

    Just WOW!

     

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

  74.  
    icon
    techflaws.org (profile), Nov 4th, 2009 @ 3:45am

    Modding rocks!

    I'm all for freedom to tinker. If it weren't for vb6rocod's modded firmware I never would have bought my Philips DVD standalone (I even wrote a FAQ about it).

    And yes, it's totally legitimate to circumvent pointless limitations such as having a puny 8 chars in the filebrowser that somehow seemed acceptable to the Asian chipset manufacturer (Mediatek) and the distributor (clueless Philips).

     

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

  75.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re: Wow, this is a cluster...

    If an analogy is a large yellow duck, does that make you a twit? Yes.

     

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

  76.  
    identicon
    Jeffrey Nonken, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 11:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: socialist state

    @martyinarizona: "Do you want some beaurocrat reviewing your erectile dysfunction? He/she will probably send you a popsicle stick and a roll of duct tape."

    Bwah hah hah hah hah hah hah! *snerk* Have you looked around lately? Tried to use health insurance? We already HAVE that. Only it's the health insurance company that's doing it, and they're trying to maximize their profits at your expense. It's probably not even a bureaucrat, it's probably a clerk ticking off boxes on a form.

    Everybody hates our health insurance system but nobody actually wants to try something different. All you can say is "It's socialism! Ewww, don't get any on me!"

    America's motto: "If that doesn't work, try more of the same."

    Oh, and I don't have erectile dysfunction, but thanks for your concern. Are you the person sending me all that spam? Anyway, why should I care if some faceless person somewhere knows that somebody he's never met has some medical problem? Or do you imagine your insurance company doesn't know about your erectile dysfunction? Is it OK that they do as long as it's not a government bureaucrat?

     

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

  77.  
    identicon
    BaconLover86, Nov 26th, 2009 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re:wrong

    thats oppisite. On file sharing sites they go after the person who shares the files, not the people who download them. In the drug world they go after the dealer not the user, duh.

     

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

  78.  
    identicon
    Matthew, Dec 25th, 2009 @ 9:46pm

    It is not stealing at all.

    Ok, first off on the subject... How exactly is it stealing when the definition of stealing is:

    A criminal act in which property belonging to another is taken without that person's consent.

    Ok, with that being said, what exactly was taken that was not returned?

    If some smart ass says, internet or bandwidth, im going to die. In order to be considered theft, you need to diminish someones quantity of something to less than what they originally had to begin with. If you are paying for a basic connection then it is not stealing at all. If you physically climb up on the pole and connect your line, I would call that more of trespassing than stealing. Since it is not your property, the internet connection itself is invisible, therefore you cannot prove in a court of law that anything was taken, case closed.

    Go ahead and throw in any lopsided, twisted laws that you can at that, it is the same no matter how you look at it.

    That's like saying I am stealing a satellite signal when I point a dish up in the sky and get free tv, it is not my fault they decide to transmit signal in my direction and I have the means to catch it.

     

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

  79.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2011 @ 1:09am

    that is the lamest excuse for intolerance I have ever heard. after all for the government to ban their own laws pursuant to 21U.S.C I find it hocking. What I do think is that the cable company hired a couple of fake wanna be agents ir corrupt cops and promised them free cable to wreak havock on a ligitimate hobby. Afterall, if moding cable modems are illegal then why do they sell upgrade kits like microsoft windows or even mobile phone applications on store shelves? the cable company and the fbi should be sued pursuant to 15u.s.c15 due to the fact that they are the ones controling what you watch that guy only removed the impedence that the cable company did not want you to know.

     

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

  80.  
    identicon
    Mr Anonymous, Aug 8th, 2012 @ 3:18am

    comment

    I see that we all discuss why he did it and how but what about the idea that comcast should be securing their servers and this will prevent people from using their service. I want to know why is comcast going after this guy rather then fix their own shit and secure their system.

     

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


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