Did DirecTV Hire Satellite Hackers To Leak Dish TV Smart Cards?

from the seems-a-bit-extreme dept

I had missed this story when it came out last week, but thanks to a reader (who prefers to remain anonymous) for sending it in. Apparently, Dish Network is suing DirecTV, claiming that DirecTV (and its parent News Corp) hired notorious satellite TV hackers to break Dish’s encryption and “flood the market” with hacked smart cards. That’s quite a claim, and it will be interesting to see what evidence the company has to back it up. After all, reverse engineering a product is perfectly legal — and, indeed, DirecTV claims that’s all it did. Furthermore, it seems doubly strange that DirecTV would go down this route after so thoroughly pissing off smart card hackers of all kinds a few years ago by accusing them all of stealing DirecTV signals with almost no evidence, and then pushing many to pay up to avoid a lawsuit. It’s also hard to see what the real benefit to DirecTV is of such a plan. Making it easier to get Dish for free shouldn’t increase DirecTV’s market at all. One would hope that Dish actually has some serious evidence to go along with these claims.

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Companies: directv, dish, echostar, news corp

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Comments on “Did DirecTV Hire Satellite Hackers To Leak Dish TV Smart Cards?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Get your facts straight

DIRECTV has nothing to do with this. The alleged crime was committed back in 2000. This is before Dish tried to buy DIRECTV (initiated in Dec 2001 and declined by the FCC in Oct 2002 – http://www.fcc.gov/transaction/echostar-directv.html) and before News Corp purchased DIRECTV (initiated in May 2003 and approved by the FCC in January 2004 – http://www.fcc.gov/transaction/news-directv.html).

Next you will say Liberty Media was behind this and John Malone was the mastermind!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Get your facts straight

>The alleged crime was committed back in 2000. This is
>before Dish tried to buy DIRECTV (initiated in Dec 2001
>and declined by the FCC in Oct 2002 –

Holy cow, it took a long time for the courts to hear this case!

Assuming Reuters publish date is correct, I see it akin to suing your ex-wife for hitting your car when you were dating.

Ajax 4Hire (profile) says:

No, in the USA, reverse engineering

security is a crime.
Not that I agree with the law.
DCMA and CSS (for DVDs) do specifically state that attempts to reverse engineer the security, just thinking about it is a crime.

Not the first thought crime, will not be the last.

I do have mixed feelings about the reason,
I want a burglar attempt to be prosecuted, just because the attempt was unsuccessful does not mean that it is not a crime. In this case the attempt IS a crime.

ehrichweiss says:

world's smallest violin..

…playing just for Dish Network.

All I hear from Dish is “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!!”.

They have gotten in a deal with ebay where if you try to sell your LEGAL satellite receiver that you have to comply with Dish Network’s fascist policies or else they will cancel your auctions. I’m NOT talking about selling something with a hacked card or whatever but selling something that you have full right to sell.

You see, Dish Network wants to control everything about their receivers and their use/resale even if it means they violate the doctrine of first sale. For this alone I’d be willing to make a class action attorney rich just to take some of the bounce out of their step for a few months.

So screw them. I hope DirecTV did hire hackers to ruin their day.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: world's smallest violin..

I read something somewhere, that Dish is also installing light sensors inside the recievers. Well, they want to know if you open the recievers, or shine a flashlight into it, it will think it’s open and go through a self-destruct mode and physically destroy the board. It must add enormous costs to open and replace the boards in a darkroom. They sure go to length to treat everyone as criminals!

C.G. (profile) says:

One reason...

I can think of one reason why anyone would want to flood the market with hacked cards to allow someone to get service for free… cash flow.

I can imagine a world where Dish Network’s customers canceled their service – thus reducing the company’s monthly income – while still getting service for free (or, if not canceling, reducing the money paid for premium content). This could force a cash crunch at the company and allow DirectTV to gain the upper hand – even if they don’t actually compete in the market.

DrBuzz0 (user link) says:

No. That would be a loss to DirecTV. Forget the whole “reduce the company’s income” thing. DirecTV is a profit-making company and they need subscriptions.

Most of their channels are the same as those on Dish. If Dish is avaliable for free then it’s effectively the same as having most of the channels of DirecTV for free. If you can get free from Dish illegally, why would you bother paying for Dish or DirecTV?

The reason Dish encryption (Nagravision) was hacked is that their system is based in their receivers and only certain portions reside on the card. It’s generally a less robust system than Videoguard than DirecTV has. They upgraded it with new cards but it was hacked again because they are limited in what they can do.

James says:

Bigger picture

The whole bigger picture, that most miss here, being that if DirecTV and DISH didn’t charge SO much for the crap they spew that very few would consider ways around it. The market feels the price isn’t fair (the same could be argued for CDs and a bit less so for DVDs).

This in no way defends their biggest competitor; cable. The cable companies are even more in bed w/the Devil.

Scattershot says:

Direct TV

A collection agency, acting on behalf of Direct TV (they said), contacted me alleging an unpaid bill for seventeen dollars and change. I have never subscribed to Direct TV and I told them so. I once subscribed to DISH, but I cancelled because it became unaffordable. DISH said the equipment belonged to me. Was the collection attempt a mistake or a scam ?

Peter Carter says:

DirecTV satels from contractors

DirecTV and Mastec have used deceptive business practices to gain an unfair business advantage against the very workers providing installation services. These practices include charging companies full retail value for equipment that was installed and activated in customers homes, deducting money from pay with no back up or documentation to support legitimacy, providing forged documents in an attempt to collect money from contractors for equipment not received by contractor. charging for phone lines that were allegedly not connected at time of install with no regard for phone service availability at time of install or customer requests and/or denial of this connection. back charging contractors for faulty equipment that was beyond the control of the contractor (DirecTV of course having full knowledge of the inadequacies of their manufacturers), back charging contractors for problems as a result of customer error, collecting a large percentage of ancillary work fees despite the fact that the contractor provides all of the materials for the installation. refusing to pay out final invoices and numerous other deceptive actions. Legal action is in progress, and reports have been filed with the Federal Trade Commission, The BBB and other Government agencies.

Rigo says:

Re: DirecTV satels from contractors

I’m a installation technician subcontractor for DirecTV and every time I get paid, I find out back charges from defective equipment. and also jobs not been paid for “cancellations” according to DTV.
I would like to get more info if there is been a process to end with this unfairness from them.

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