News.com Prevents Falsely Accused Grandmother Of Getting Kicked Off The Internet By The MPAA

from the but-who-will-protect-anyone-else? dept

One of the problems we've had with the whole "three strikes" concept that would kick people off the internet due to accusations, not convictions, of file sharing, is the fact that we hear all the time about innocent users accused of file sharing. Greg Sandoval, over at News.com recently came across a grandmother who was falsely accused multiple times of file sharing, and her ISP, Qwest, was threatening to kick her off the internet. We had not heard that Qwest had signed on with a "three strikes" program, so it's a bit of news that it's one of the companies who will accept bogus accusations. Not only that, but Qwest even told her that no other provider would grant her service because Qwest would let those other service providers "know her name and what she did." Thanks, Qwest!

The problem, of course, was that Cathi Paradiso didn't share any of the movies or TV shows she was accused of sharing, and she works from home as a recruiter -- so losing her internet access would be devastating. But the only way she got Qwest to back down was because Sandoval and News.com became interested in the story and convinced Qwest to look deeper. But if Paradiso hadn't been able to draw attention to herself from the press, she would have had no recourse. There was no one she could appeal to, and no official process to respond to the bogus claims of Hollywood. She got lucky that News.com was willing to pick up her story and contact Qwest, but what about anyone else threatened with bogus notices? Meanwhile, BayTSP, the company whose "evidence" has been shown to be flimsy and easily falsified in the past, stands by accusing her of file sharing, saying it was her own fault for having an open WiFi network, suggesting there's something inherently wrong with sharing your WiFi. Yes, the company stands by its false accusation. Nice company.

Filed Under: due process, false accusation, file sharing, three strikes
Companies: baytsp, qwest


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  1. identicon
    The AC you responded to above, 1 Feb 2010 @ 6:12pm

    Re: Re:

    While "all" is obviously incorrect, I will totally concede that an awful lot of software does contain bugs. And yes, there are most probably bugs in mission critical software. Absolutely!

    Unfortunately, bugs in mission critical software doesn't really mean anything in regards to this situation. Unless you feel that the presence of bugs in certain mission critical software proves that all of the logs and forensics available to this ISP are inaccurate, fabricated or unreliable? That's a pretty wild jump, in my opinion.

    If I say that I can do a backflip, but you say that "most people can't", does that really prove that I can't? This is how your argument sounds so far....a bit weak.


    Secondly, you say that it "...might be evidence but it is not proof." The primary definition of "proof" is (taken from merriam-webster.com) "the cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact." Most people are not nearly as cynical as you, and trust that there's at least *some* reliability to the logging and forensics available to ISPs, and as such these logs do constitute proof. It's the whole "reasonable doubt" thing...



    Finally, you suggest that you would have no proof without forensically analyzing her machine. This is incredibly false, for a number of reasons. I'll number them:

    1) The violations were in the traffic itself, not the end user. It doesn't matter what is or isn't on her personal computer, the 18 separate accusations were that "this IP is transmitting illegal content (and violating the policies of the ISP in the process)".

    2) What remains on her computer now is not forensically significant. Content can be deleted. And contrary to what you may see in the movies, it is possible to erase something from disk to the point where even the most sophisticated equipment on earth cannot recover it (not that the ISP would have access to any of these methods, or the ability to get a warrant to confiscate her computer for analysis).


    So what is forensically significant? How about logs of 18 different accusations of policy violations? It only takes 1 verified incident to justify a response in line with the terms and conditions of the service. But you think they're all made up and unreliable. You shouldn't respond to this then, because I didn't even write any of this. It's all just an anomaly in TechDirt's database that coincidentally looks like proof that someone wrote this. Besides, TechDirt's database is probably much less reliable than an $13 Billion ISP's service logs. This post is probably just a bug, damn thing.

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