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Uncap Your Modem, Get Visit From the FBI 602

FlightSimGuy writes "The Blade wrote this article about how seven men were arrested by FBI agents with guns drawn and indicted by a local grand jury for allegedly "reconfiguring computer systems to access excessive amounts of bandwidth". Apparently the provider, Buckeye Cable Systems, wanted to make an example out of the men. According to the company's attourney, "Cyber crime is potentially very damaging to society. We are taking a firm position on that type of criminal activity. We hope these cases will have a deterrent value...""
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Uncap Your Modem, Get Visit From the FBI

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  • mwhahah (Score:5, Funny)

    by dolo666 ( 195584 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:03PM (#4588553) Journal
    Hands up!!! Hand over the bandwidth, punks. *snarl*
    • Re:mwhahah (Score:5, Funny)

      by scotay ( 195240 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @02:27PM (#4589455)
      I was thinking more of the Seinfeld episode with the most excellent Philip Baker Hall as
      Library cop Lt. Bookman.

      "BOOKMAN: Well, let me tell you something, funny boy. Y'know that little TOS,
      the one that says "No Uncapping"? Well that may not mean anything to you, but that means a lot to me. One whole hell of a lot. Sure, go ahead, laugh if you want to. I've seen your type before: Flashy, making the scene, flaunting convention. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. What's this guy making such a big stink about bandwidth? Well, let me give you a hint, junior. Maybe we can live without throughput, people like you and me. Maybe. Sure, we're too old to change the world, but what about that kid, sitting down, opening a web browser, right now, in a branch at the local library and enduring slow downloads of pee-pees and wee-wees on the Cat in the Hat and the Five Chinese Brothers? Doesn't HE deserve better throughput? Look. If you think this is about cybercrimes and missing bandwidth, you'd better think again. This is about that
      kid's right to surf the web without getting his mind warped with slowness! Or: maybe that turns you on, Seinfeld; maybe that's how y'get your kicks. You and your good-time buddies. Well I got a flash for ya, joy-boy: Party time is over."


      Yeah, it was probably just like that episode. Except for the drawn weapons.

  • Repost (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The theft of the service - called bandwidth - from Buckeye Express, an Internet provider operated by Buckeye CableSystem, ended June 26 when authorities served search warrants and seized computers and modems at residences in Toledo and surrounding suburbs.

    Yeah I remember reading about this the first time, around june 27th.
  • Wasting resources. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nogami_Saeko ( 466595 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:04PM (#4588564)
    Sounds to me like the FBI should go after the cable company for using up valuable resources for this kind of crap.

    A cable company making an example out of customers, or fighting terrorism and REAL crime... Wonder which the FBI's resources would be better spent at...
    • by NoMoreNicksLeft ( 516230 ) <john@oyler.comcast@net> on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:14PM (#4588640) Journal
      If we let hooligans steal bandwidth, then the terroists have already won.
    • by looseBits ( 556537 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:16PM (#4588653)
      Yep, I'm glad to see my tax payer dollars help fight these horrible crimes against humanity. Manipulating your cable modem to steal extra bandwidth from your ISP is not only a crime against the ISP but every American!! How many packets of p0rn were delayed from reaching my system because of these terrorists? They must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. In fact, I think that the ISP's should be given unilateral judicial power to protect me and my constitutional rights from these evil-doers. I propose that we give ISP's a small island in the Pacific that they can use as a prison to save society from these attacks and as part of their punishment, give them AOL and a 28.8Kbps modem.
      • That's much too good for them. Make it a 2400 baud modem in a 286 system, and force 'em to connect via a WWIV BBS -- that'll *really* teach 'em the error of their ways!!

      • I propose that we give ISP's a small island in the Pacific that they can use as a prison to save society from these attacks and as part of their punishment, give them AOL and a 28.8Kbps modem.

        Scene: a small, paradisical Pacific island, several square miles of golden beaches, clear blue seas, a sky so blue it hurts your eyes to look at it, and local native girls even prettier than the skies.

        ISP Owner one: (Lying on the beach, with a coconut in his hand) So, watcha been doing?

        ISP Owner two: Oh, the usual. You know, surf, scuba diving, banging the pretty native girls.

        ISP Owner one: How's the SQL download doing?

        ISP Owner two: 22% so far. At this rate, we'll get it all downloaded by next March.

        ISP Owner one: Too bad we can't leave this "prison" yet... heh heh heh.

        Yup, what a horrible, awful punishment that would be.
    • by whereiswaldo ( 459052 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:46PM (#4588869) Journal
      There must be more to this story than meets the eye. How is it the cable company's decision how serious the crime is? Does that mean I can call the FBI and have them kick the door in with guns drawn if someone steals my car stereo? Or keeps prank calling me?
    • by WCMI92 ( 592436 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:47PM (#4588871) Homepage
      "Sounds to me like the FBI should go after the cable company for using up valuable resources for this kind of crap.

      A cable company making an example out of customers, or fighting terrorism and REAL crime... Wonder which the FBI's resources would be better spent at..."

      Exactly! This is a job for CIVIL courts and local jurisdictions, not the FBI and the Feds.

      IANAL, but this seems to me to be a violation of a CONTRACT, not a criminal act!

      But remember, corporations are "people" too, indeed, apparently more important than any mere flesh and blood person.

      I mean, if the cable goes out, and they don't fix it within a few days, can I have the FBI raid the cable company for breaching their end of the contract?

      Of course not.
      • by MikeFM ( 12491 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @01:29PM (#4589155) Homepage Journal
        If we Slashdot their company webservers will they send FBI agents after us too? Damn it's evil of us using up bandwidth. We shouldn't take deep breaths either.. we might be depriving others in our neighborhood of oxygen. Or would the neighborhood committee have to force us to sign an EULA when we moved in to criminzlize that?

        Monopoly companies think they can force anything from their customers but how long until their customers just cut the monopoly out of the loop. Electric companies screw over customers.. alternative power is gaining in popularity. Phone companies screw over customers.. VoIP is on the rise. Cable companies screw over their customers.. kids download movies off the Internet. Internet screw customers.. Mesh computing is on the rise. It takes time but these companies are choking themselves.
      • by scoove ( 71173 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @02:35PM (#4589528)
        Seems like the /. discussion has been rather one-sided. While I can relate to both sides of the issue (politically leaning libertarian, manager of a rural regional broadband company), I think there are some points to be made that explains the FBI's interest and motivation, as well as the role of the service provider:

        A cable company making an example out of customers, or fighting terrorism and REAL crime...

        Or hunting down and executing civilians who ignore their authority (Ruby Ridge), dousing with flammable gas and igniting, then denying photographic evidence of shooting civilians as they attempted to flee (Waco), or ignoring evidence of Islamic terrorism in the prosecution of a major case preferring to stick with the politically pleasing but incorrect "angry white male" prosecution (OKC), yes, the FBI does seem to have some priority problems.

        I don't mean to sound like a conspiracy theorist - fortunately there has been enough evidence, charges/convictions against agents and public condemnation for many of those events to provide enough substantiation for reasonable persons. Also, recognizing them as a political organization, not an objective law enforcement organization, clarifies their behavior substantially and explains why good agents are asked to do not-so-good things sometimes.

        From this perspective, these actions make sense:

        Wonder which the FBI's resources would be better spent at..."

        In this case, it appears the FBI is working to establish deterrance on infrastructure crimes. There is considerable fear about the present security of our telecom, power, water, gas pipeline and railroad infrastructure.

        I'll guarantee that this case was hand selected by top FBI officials, not a regular response to a service provider complaint. My experience two years ago with absolute disregard by FBI and Secret Service authorities to our exposing a hacking ring that had exploited several foreign embassies in DC and a DC dialup provider was enough to prove that they really don't care about crime unless it suits their political agenda.

        Exactly! This is a job for CIVIL courts and local jurisdictions, not the FBI and the Feds.

        Except when they need to scare the civilians out of tampering with infrastructure so they can focus on the /real/ bad guys.

        IANAL, but this seems to me to be a violation of a CONTRACT, not a criminal act!

        I'd absolutely concur, but thanks to popular support of intent crime laws (e.g. hate crimes), you folks have opened the doors to more of these ugly laws. Tampering with your CATV coax or POTS can now be construed as an act of terrorism, thanks to the wonders of "intent."

        Unfortunately, the libertarians warned both sides about this encroachment (Democrats for hate crime and excessive intent-based gun laws; Republicans for national defense and terrorist intent laws, and both sides for the mess associated with RIAA "intent to steal intellectual property" laws), but most folks ignored us.

        You know the line about having made your bed... election day is Tuesday in the US. Maybe it's a chance to send a message by voting libertarian.

        *scoove*
        (Not associated nor registered with the libertarian party, but disgusted with both major parties)
    • These are real criminals. They are escalating their service by about 30 or 40 dollors a month.

      That means that after a year they stole around 400 dollors.

      Those FBI agents are doing their job real well.

      I hope they get their purse snatching devision up and running soon though, because we don't want local law enforcement to be too busy.

      PS: Why the hell is the FBI going after petty criminals? I guess $500.00 is where it becomes a felony theft, but still, why is it the FBIU and not local cops doing this work? The local cops do some serious drug busts, but not petty theft of service?
      PPS: steel bandwidth on my cable block and I hope you swollow a bug and pay a fine. But no FBI raid.
  • value (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Voytek ( 15888 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:04PM (#4588567) Journal
    We hope these cases will have a deterrent value...

    Sure will, it will deter people from becoming your customers.
    • Re:value (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WCMI92 ( 592436 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:49PM (#4588885) Homepage
      "We hope these cases will have a deterrent value...

      Sure will, it will deter people from becoming your customers."

      Yes it would me too. Next thing you know they could raid people who plug their broadband connection into a router to use it with multiple PC's. Or go after people who use Linux, with it's more efficient IP stack... etc, etc...

      If I lived in that company's service area I'd go DSL.
      • Re:value (Score:3, Funny)

        by ez76 ( 322080 )
        Yes it would me too. Next thing you know they could raid people who plug their broadband connection into a router to use it with multiple PC's.
        Striped or mirrored?
  • by khuber ( 5664 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:05PM (#4588571)
    That would be a pretty awesome anecote. Maybe I should uncap. "And then Scully frisked me..."

    -Kevin

  • by CatWrangler ( 622292 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:06PM (#4588575) Journal
    Let this be a lesson to everybody. If you uncap your pipe to get speedier access to a naked woman, you end up paying for it in the long run.
    • by nettdata ( 88196 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:28PM (#4588749) Homepage
      Let this be a lesson to everybody. If you uncap your pipe to get speedier access to a naked woman, you end up paying for it in the long run.

      Charlie Sheen said it best, when caught using the services of Heidi's stable of pro's:

      "I don't pay to have sex with women... I pay to have them go away"

      *sigh* Don't quite know how it relates, but man, it's the truth! ;)

  • Coffee? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kkith ( 551310 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {htikk}> on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:06PM (#4588579) Journal
    So tell me, how does the allegation that Mr. Runner stole coffee and creamer have ANYTHING to do with stealing bandwidth?
  • bullsh*t (Score:3, Insightful)

    by verbatim_verbose ( 411803 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:07PM (#4588584)
    Can someone please explain to me how this is damaging to society? I guess maybe if they were downloading boyband mp3s... but other than that..
    • Re:bullsh*t (Score:3, Informative)

      by danheskett ( 178529 )
      Can someone please explain to me how this is damaging to society?.
      Its damaging to the cable company. The cable company and the user have an agreement - this amount of bandwidth for this amount of money.

      The users wanted to change that - but not pay the increased costs. They wanted to cheat the system and the other people on the system out of fair service for fair money.

      When people disregard their own promises - aka the users - and then try to hide behind technological tricks to do it - society has a major problem AND in this case laws were broken. Not to mention the agreements the users (probably) have made not to damage or modify the equipment lent to them.

      No matter how you slice it these bozo's broke their user agreement, illegally modified regulated communications hardware, stole service, and attempted to defraud the other users on the system. Play fair, or don't play.
      • Re:bullsh*t (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ProfessorPuke ( 318074 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @01:17PM (#4589079)
        Funny, cable modem license agreements never specify a number for the amount of bandwidth you can have.

        In fact, if you listen to their marketing guys, you've got "Unlimited Internet Access". So uncapping your modem just brings you closer to getting the service that was advertised!

        Also, ~50% of cable companies allow you to buy your own modem, rather than renting. So you're not damaging their hardware.
      • No matter how you slice it these bozo's broke their user agreement, illegally modified regulated communications hardware, stole service, and attempted to defraud the other users on the system. Play fair, or don't play.

        Under no circumstances is it ever ILLEGAL to break an agreement. If you decide one day to stop paying your credit card, do you think the bank is going to sequester a grand jury to indict you for... breaking you agreement to pay your minimum monthly balance?

        What if you decide one day to stop paying the lease payments for your apartment? Will you go to jail then? Or your car?

        This is fundamentally the difference between civil cases and criminal cases. We have civil courts in place to deal with matters of contract dispute.

        Think about it. Contracts are ALWAYS ambiguous. These guys can argue so many ways around whatever contract to which they agreed its not even funny. And remember, this isn't a REAL contract we are talking about here. Do you think those people signed anything or did anything to show they acknowledged any contractual obligation on their behalf to do ANYTHING for the ISP? Have you ever signed anything for an ISP?

        I would have no problems with the ISP suing the folks here to recover the difference between what they were capped at and what they used. But to suggest SOCIETY should pay $30,000 a year to incarcarate someone for costing an ISP $100 more in a month... Its insane, absolutely insane.
      • No matter how you slice it these bozo's broke their user agreement, illegally modified regulated communications hardware...

        WTF? Regulated communications hardware? Who *the fuck* regulates how cable modems behave? If you put a linear on your CB, which is federally regulated communications equipment, the worst that can happen is that you get your gear confiscated. If the law were applied the way you seem to see it, most of our nation's trucking infrastructure would be in prison.

    • Re:bullsh*t (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chester K ( 145560 )
      Can someone please explain to me how this is damaging to society? I guess maybe if they were downloading boyband mp3s... but other than that..

      Uncapping your cable modem means you're using more than your allocated share of your neighborhood's cable data bandwidth, which deprives other, legitmately paying customers of the bandwidth they're paying for. In addition to screwing your neighbors, you're also using more than your appropriated portion of the cable company's uplink bandwidth from their local station out to the rest of the internet.... if uncapping your cable modem was popular on a large scale, one of two things would happen: Prices would go up (for everyone!) since the cable company needs to buy more bandwidth for everyone; everyone's "extra" bandwidth would prove useless, in fact they might even get less overall speed than they would have normally, as everyone's overtaxing the same pipe.

      As far as it being "damaging to society"... it's probably not on the large scale, but that doesn't mean that the theft should go unpunished. By that logic, since violent felonies are more damaging to society than misdemeanors, all resources should be dedicated to the felonies while society degenerates under the collective weight of petty crimes.
  • by XXIstCenturyBoy ( 617054 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:07PM (#4588586)
    *note to self : Do not switch to Buckeyes*

    Did they send them some kind of e-mail, letter of something? I know that uncapping is done by software in some case. Did they really do with unauthorized use of computer, cable, or telecommunications property or they only installed some sort of software on THEIR machine.
    I hope that case get trown out, cause otherwise a LOT of peoples are in trouble. I mean we see those uncap software ad banner everywhere on the net.
    • by psych031337 ( 449156 ) <psych0@NoSPam.wtnet.de> on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:32PM (#4588781)
      I think the ISP reaction is too harsh. For sure, they basically have been stealing from them (bandwidth, or service or whatever). But having the FBI boot down doors for a crime like this exceeds the boundaries of common sense. Don't they have any rape crimes to investigate.

      And yes, uncapping is/can usually be done by software. It is however no trivial task (sometimes requiring to mess with MD5 checksums, reconfiguring your machine to look like the ISPs FTP server and stuff like that).

      What bugs me is that this could have been solved from the desk of the ISPs staff. Most cable modems allow for remote reboot, which means that the modem would reset and retrieve its config file (where the limits are set) from the ISP FTP server. So, just have them reboot the modems by script as soon as they detect anomalies. No problem, cheap script I guess. In case these uncap's were hardcoded (i.e. by unsoldering firmware or reflashing hardware parts of a *rented* modem) things get a little worse... It'll be a heavier charge than just theft of service/bandwidth then. Don't know the verbatim for that, but fiddling with hardware you've been told to keep your fingers out of which does not even belong to you...uh-oh.
  • by Lurking Grue ( 3963 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:08PM (#4588591)
    And people are asking why the FBI didn't know about the pending terrorist attacks last year...
  • Guns drawn? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:08PM (#4588592)
    I don't see anything in the linked article about FBI agents pointing their guns at anybody.

    Can we quit adding sensationalist crap to story summaries? Please?
    • Re:Guns drawn? (Score:3, Informative)

      by danheskett ( 178529 )
      FYI,

      Pretty much today, anytime there is a police action, there are guns drawn. Now, it seems likely that here this wasn't a police action - meaning they probably just knocked on the door and did some quick investigation before arresting them.

      BUT if they did consider it a "police action" their guns would be drawn. That's pretty standard.
  • by AIXadmin ( 10544 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:09PM (#4588596) Homepage
    Isn't this no different the pirating pay-per-view, or stealing cable all together via illegal descrambler.
    Personally I think a good lawyer can make minced meat out of the prosecution in this case.
    • by yroJJory ( 559141 ) <me@@@jory...org> on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:35PM (#4588798) Homepage
      That brings up an interesting parallel.

      You see, "stealing cable," as the cable companies don't want you to know, means climbing their pole, entering their lock box, opening the neighborhood green base, and turning on your signal. Descramblers themselves are not illegal, as the 1934 Communications Act states that any citizen has the right to receive any broadcast signal. (The 1994 Communications Act modifies this to exclude the 800 MHz range to make analong cellular phone eavesdropping a punishable offense.) So long as you have not trespassed on the cable company's property, there is nothing illegal about "stealing cable."

      So, if you own your modem and you modify its software to be uncapped, can they really go after you for "unauthorized access to a computer system" and that sort of crime? Obviously, they can ban you from their network, which is exactly what AT&T Broadband does (and makes me think twice about uncapping or modifying the cap limit), but can they seriously bring charges against you?

      How might this be different than obtaining a signal via a decoder? After all, they're supplying the signal already.
  • by MCMLXXVI ( 601095 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:10PM (#4588603)
    I don't mean the over zealous FBI.
    I mean what "stealing" is a crime and is not. I like how everyone likes to only follow the laws they think they should. If you uncap your modem and get 2 Gigabits and I only get 28 Kilobits then you are STEALING from me. When you take extra bandwidth it comes from somewhere.
  • by broken ( 1648 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:10PM (#4588604)
    "Mr. Runner, 55, of 4561 Westbourne Ct., Sylvania, resigned as Waterville solicitor in March, 2001, after a covert police surveillance operation videotaped him stealing coffee, creamer, and paper from village supplies."

    From stealing coffee and creamer to stealing bandwidth. This is the downward spiral into crime that the RIAA has been warning us about :)

    Also, from the department of Redundancy dept.:

    " "There have been no indications that other high-speed Internet providers have taken such firm steps to prosecute for the theft of broadband theft," Mr. Shryock said. "
  • Incredible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slutdot ( 207042 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:10PM (#4588605)
    This arrest goes beyond any other "computer crime" arrest I have ever seen. If I lived in Toledo (and thank the gods I don't), I would make it my personal quest to do everything in my power to embarrass this company by protests or other methods for what they've done. To borrow a commonly used phrase from the clown running for Governor in Florida, this is shameful.
  • I'm so glad ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CmdrTypo ( 603848 )
    that the FBI is spending resources on important crimes like this while snipers wander the country and practically have to turn themselves in to be caught.
  • A lawyer for one of the defendants said, ""They paid for the service. There is a question if the additional software counts as a crime."

    If this guy thinks bandwidth==software then it's already over.
    • The lawyer may be talking of the addition of software to the computer. That they added unauthorized software to their computer which uncapped the modem.

      The next step would be sending in the FBI when you run any software that the cable provider does not approve of.

  • Cybercrime? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Servo ( 9177 ) <dstringf@NOSpaM.gmail.com> on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:11PM (#4588614) Journal
    What this really does is set a bad example for everyone. Just because something which is illegal and involves a computer, doesn't make it "cybercrime".

    I wonder if these guys also send the FBI out every time they find out someone has free HBO.
    • by skinfitz ( 564041 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @02:35PM (#4589526) Journal
      Just because something which is illegal and involves a computer, doesn't make it "cybercrime".

      Good point - if someone bashes someone over the head with a keyboard is that cybercrime too? Or does the system unit have to be involved?
    • Re:Cybercrime? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Reziac ( 43301 )
      Exactly. This should be prosecuted as "theft of services", no different than if they'd hooked their backyard sprinkler system to the city water mains and were using water without it going thru the meter (thus not paying for what they were using). Water or electricity "theft of services" is actually a fairly common "crime" in some areas, but it's hardly frontpage news when the perp is caught!! Why should theft of bandwidth be treated any differently??

  • Wrong design (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kasperd ( 592156 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:13PM (#4588626) Homepage Journal
    Why could they even get additional bandwidth by changing their modem? If the provider wants to impose a limit, that should be done in their own hardware in their own end of the connection. If the system had been designed with this in mind, there wouldn't have been a case.
    • Re:Wrong design (Score:5, Interesting)

      by WCMI92 ( 592436 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:57PM (#4588938) Homepage
      "Why could they even get additional bandwidth by changing their modem? If the provider wants to impose a limit, that should be done in their own hardware in their own end of the connection. If the system had been designed with this in mind, there wouldn't have been a case."

      A very interesting point!

      How about this: A customer who uses their own modem, ie, there is no cable company equipment inside the home at all. Most, if not all cable and DSL providers allow you to use/buy your own modem.

      How could altering that be "unauthorized use of a computer device" or whatever, since the provider AUTHORIZED it to be connected to the network?

      I think this is very, VERY thin as a criminal case. It'd be far stronger as a CIVIL case, ie: breech of contract.

      But they don't send in the Federal jackboots to storm people's houses when you file a civil suit.

      It's risky for even a monopoly like a cable company to do this, particularly in a larger area like Toledo. This could bite them in the ass, as people there can switch to satellite and get their local channels (as you can in most larger areas), and DSL is probably available (as well as other wireless broadband options).

      I don't condone what they did, but neither do I condone what is definately a clear cut case of MISUSE of government power. This is a CONTRACT matter, not a criminal one!
    • Re:Wrong design (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Fastolfe ( 1470 )
      I completely agree.. The first rule of computer/application security: Never trust the user. Once a piece of hardware is installed on customer premesis (or in some cases, customer-installed hardware that they purchased on their own), the ISP should never trust that hardware. Any security mechanisms (authentication, authorization, bandwidth caps, IP address assignment, etc.) need to exist on the ISP side, not the customer side.

      But on the flip side, the nature of some cable networks makes some of this fairly difficult. Satellite TV is in the same situation: they can't flip a switch on a satellite and keep that satellite signal from being received at your home. Instead, they have to resort to tricks with smart cards and encryption on the client end to keep their customers honest. There will always be the possibility of emulation and unauthorized modification of this equipment, though, and as a result, we have laws like these in place to protect them.

      I do oppose companies (cable or otherwise) taking these laws for granted and refusing to do the obvious to secure things on their end instead of just relying on the FBI to prosecute customers that take advantage of what may be fairly trivial mechanisms to get around provider restrictions.
  • Repeat Offender (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BurritoWarrior ( 90481 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:15PM (#4588647)
    This is not the first time one of the defendants has flaunted the law:

    "after a covert police surveillance operation videotaped him stealing coffee, creamer, and paper from village supplies."

    Whew. I sure am glad people like Mr. Muhammed and Mr. Malvo can kill people all across this country while our law enforcement people are doing stakeouts on the guy taking some French Roast.
  • you steal something you suffer the consequences. Why is this such an outrage? Why is the FBI involved? possibly because its their jurisdiction? Jsut because the FBI is now dealing heavily in anti-terrorism efforts doesn't mean they stop doing their other jobs.

    Look at New York, FBI agents got retasked to anti-terrorism in droves and in the meantime the mafia was busy selling world trade center scrap.

    Poor use of resources? no. They're trying to nip this in the bud before it gets out of control like cable descramblers did.

    Just cause you can doesn't mean you should.
    • Re:theft is theft (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thinmac ( 98095 )
      There's theft and there's armed robbery. What gets me is not that they were prosicuted (it was, I guess, breach of contract), but that the were greeted at the door by armed FBI agents with guns drawn. What these guys did may have been illegal (we'll have to wait for them to be tried to know for sure), and may have been wrong, but it in no way should have led the FBI to belive they were likely to assault them, which was a precurser to law enforcement drawing their guns, so so I thought.
      Why didn't they just come in, cuff them, and take them away?
      • Re:theft is theft (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Fastolfe ( 1470 )
        greeted at the door by armed FBI agents with guns drawn

        There is no factual data supporting this that we've seen. The only thing that mentions the FBI having their guns drawn is the article submitter's sensationalistic summary of the story. You'll note that the article only indicates the FBI confiscated equipment. It does not mention how.
  • Two questions... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by psych031337 ( 449156 ) <psych0@NoSPam.wtnet.de> on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:17PM (#4588663)
    ...instantly pop up in my mind, no actually that's three...

    Why is the FBI moving in on this thing? I always thought them goons won't get away from their coffee makers unless there is a monetary damage of one million dollars involved in the crime?

    Why is the article posting the FULL names including street adresses of the fugitives (and that is what they are at this point, i guess)? This would be highly illegal in most of the rest of the world (it for sure is here in .de)

    What makes people think that they can get away with an uncapped modem? I mean, by uncapping you show a certain sense and understanding of network and IT technology principles. Don't they realize that the cable modem MAC address is unique like a fingerprint? Don't they know that those MAC adresses are registered to their names with the provider? Can't they imagine that a simple script running at the providers location will easily identify them and document their crime basically within a minute after uncapping?

    • Re:Two questions... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fastolfe ( 1470 )
      Why is the article posting the FULL names including street adresses ... This would be highly illegal in most of the rest of the world

      I don't think it's illegal here, but it is very rare to see that. I imagine the author of that piece will get slapped around for doing it, but maybe not. Who knows, this may be the norm for that community.

      including street adresses of the fugitives (and that is what they are at this point, i guess)?

      What makes them fugitives? In the US, they are suspects (innocent until proven guilty and all that). Additionally, they'd have to be on the run in order to be a fugitive. According to the article, they were only just recently indicted. Arrests usually follow indictment.

      Note that the article is already a few days old.
  • by Arethan ( 223197 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:18PM (#4588669) Journal
    This is rediculous. FBI knocks down your door because your cable provider is too stupid to properly keep its customers from sucking up all the bandwidth?

    What happens when the system is DOCSIS compliant, and the modem you are using is YOURS. Then what? Arrest you because you made an aftermarket modification to your own property?

    This is a fucking joke. The solution isn't to arrest the people that uncap their modems. The solution is to install a packet shaper to manage bandwidth usage from a location inaccessible to your customers. Once again, cable companies prove that they are not capable of being competent ISPs.

    What I'd like to see is a federal law passed that requires cable companies to share their lines with local competitors, much like the phone companies. I think we'd see a lot less of this crap once we had cable modem providers that did not have a CATV service on the side, or any CATV mentality. ...fucking morons
  • Okay, so who thought it would be a good idea to include their full names and addresses? That seems, at least to me, to be a huge invasion of privacy. It would be one thing if it was just a local paper with a readership consisting of people who mostly know who these people are, but this is on the internet. Putting their addresses on the web is just mean. I can only hope that the only thing that comes from it is fan mail and lawyer funding, but I cannot see that happening.

    Please, if you're going to post an article like this, respect the people involved a little bit more than that. That was very despicable.
  • Why is it necessary to send anyone to their door? It is trivial to see who has uncapped themselves, the head end will tell you. You can easily cut them off by denying their MAC. It's not necessary to use law enforcement for enforcement of bandwidth restrictions because you can do it yourself.

    The question isn't why did the FBI show up at their door, it's why did anyone show up at their door rather than the cable guy coming by to put a filter on their line to block the frequencies not used for television, assuming they had cable TV service.

  • by fobbman ( 131816 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:22PM (#4588705) Homepage
    "Toledo lawyer George Runner was among those indicted by the grand jury...Mr. Runner, 55, of 4561 Westbourne Ct., Sylvania, resigned as Waterville solicitor in March, 2001, after a covert police surveillance operation videotaped him stealing coffee, creamer, and paper from village supplies."

    This guy should be off the streets. He's an attorney, has stolen Coffee Mate, and now stolen bandwidth. That's a history of theft to me.

    Three strikes! Yer out!

  • by droopus ( 33472 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:22PM (#4588710)
    Here's a question: I just read my Cablevision AUP [optonline.net] for the cable modem service I've bought from them since 1996. Now, I OWN my cable modems (I have four) that I bought from the Wiz to replace the LanCity (after that, Terayon) modems I rented from Cablevision.

    Nowhere in this agreement does it say " you may not modify your hardware to squeeze more bandwidth out of us." The ads constantly promise "up to 100 times a 56k modem" but nowhere in the agreement does it prevent "optimization of your own gear to increase throughput efficiency" or any such language.

    In fact, I don't see anything about uncapping or hardware modification at all.

    There ARE stringent rules about reselling the service, running any kind of server, and warnings that routers and home LANs are NOT supported, but nothing saying "altering your own hardware to increase bandwith" is proscribed.

    There are rules about "tampering wih the Optimum Online Service" but it would be a far stretch to say that includes optimizing your own equipment.

    And even if this was the interpretation, where is the statement that this violates anything but an AUP, which would be at most a civil infraction.

    How does this become a Federal crime?
    • How does this become a Federal crime?

      Agreed!

      I guess it just extends the old policy of allowing any cable TV issues to be held at the federal level. Maybe it's because CATV providers tend to be multi-state in nature, or maybe it's because the programming traverses state lines.

      In my opinion, federal jurisdiction needs to be applied only when there is a need for it to be applied at the national level. Just because someone can find some aspect of a service that in some way makes use of resources in another state, that should not automatically mean it's in the federal jursidiction. In theory, you can claim just about anything as being within the federal jursidiction because there's always going to be something involved nowadays that involves another state.

      I really don't understand why the feds are so eager to expand their jurisdiction so much. Why take on additional work when the states can handle it on their own? And due to the vague commerce clause in the constitution, the courts have no choice but to uphold the constitutionality of it all.

      Sorry for the rant, but this erosion of local and state governments really annoys me sometimes. The federal government is getting much too big.
      • by rcw-home ( 122017 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @01:56PM (#4589310)
        And due to the vague commerce clause in the constitution, the courts have no choice but to uphold the constitutionality of it all.

        I get the feeling that the Supreme Court is waiting for the right case to come along to put Congress in their place on that one.

        "Certainly what is happening [...] under the Commerce Clause is totally different than what the Framers had in mind."

        -- Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, Eldred vs. Ashcroft
  • clueless (Score:4, Interesting)

    by psych031337 ( 449156 ) <psych0@NoSPam.wtnet.de> on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:24PM (#4588727)
    From the article:
    Jerome Phillips, a Toledo attorney who represents Mr. Runner, said he questions whether the accusations lodged against his client constitute a crime.


    "They paid for the service. There is a question if the additional software counts as a crime," he said.

    I tend to question this attorneys sanity and/or technical knowledge. Uncapping is not just a "additional software". It is additional software, probably hex-editing the original CM config file (which it downloads from a fixed IP during bootup, usually hosted by the provider), reonfiguring your machine to look like the ISPs download server, rebooting and tricking the modem into thinking your reconfigured box is the config file location and doing lots of unusual shit along the way.

    This is certainly not in the definition of just "additional software". If that was the case he might be right, and get them out with some phony storys about "accidentally" installing this or something... But a real uncap is not a trivial task and it won't happen accidentally.

  • by fobbman ( 131816 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:26PM (#4588739) Homepage
    Mike Yunker, a Sylvania police detective, said he planned to file delinquency charges today in Lucas County Juvenile Court against 15 and 16-year-old boys for the altering of modems in their Sylvania homes."

    Troll count should be lighter today...

  • by fname ( 199759 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:32PM (#4588774) Journal
    Please tell me that there is more to this case, please tell me that the FBI didn't arrest these guys for stealing bandiwdth.

    Many questions are unaddressed in the article which would help out. For example, had the cable company given prior notice to these guys, tell them to cut it out? Did the cable company have ANY way of controlling bandwidth on their end? Were these guys downloading information about how to build a bomb? Were they reselling the bandwidth?

    I can only see a case if the cable company had given prior notice & had no way to shut off the bandiwdth, or if these guys were reselling it. Of course, the cable company can always shut off service, so what's the big-whoop? If they were actually reselling it, then yeah, arrest 'em. Otherwise, let them go after them in civil court, NOT criminal court.

    Assume they weren't reselling the service. Then, the fact that this is a criminal case is a strong argument that there is not equal justice; this business clearly received special treatment if charges were filed in a case so minor as this.
  • This is not a story (Score:3, Informative)

    by Zapdos ( 70654 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:32PM (#4588776)
    The FBI is a field-oriented organization in which FBI Headquarters (FBIHQ) in Washington, D.C., provides program direction and support services to 56 field offices, approximately 400 satellite offices known as resident agencies, four specialized field installations, and more than 40 foreign liaison posts. The foreign liaison offices, each of which is headed by a Legal Attache or Legal Liaison Officer, work abroad with American and local authorities on criminal matters within FBI jurisdiction.

    The FBI has approximately 11,400 Special Agents and over 16,400 other employees who perform professional, administrative, technical, clerical, craft, trade, or maintenance operations. About 9,800 employees are assigned to FBIHQ; nearly 18,000 are assigned to field installations.

    So a handfull of agents here is no big deal. Stealing is stealing, bandwidth is not exempt.

  • Over-reaction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dh003i ( 203189 ) <dh003i@CURIEgmail.com minus physicist> on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:35PM (#4588800) Homepage Journal
    It is serious when someone steals bandwidth from an ISP, thus hurting other customers. However, it is nothing the FBI should be involved in; its a matter for the state authorities.

    Also, you have to remember, this is not like stealing in the conventional sense. In this case, the defendants modified their own computer software to uncap bandwidth. It seems to me that you should be able to alter you're own property in any way you want to. If the ISP doesn't like that, they should include clauses in the contract which say they can terminate you're account for doing so, and can fine you extra for the extra bandwidth you used.

    However, I can see how this can be contrieved as stealing; you're modifying your own computer to be used as a tool to steal bandwidth from an ISP (and from other customers) which you haven't paid for and don't have a right to by the agreement with you're ISP. You may have the right to alter your computer in any way you want, but that doesn't mean you have the right to use those modifications for any means you want; i.e., I can add Nitroboosters to my Boxter, but that doesn't mean I can cruise down the highway at 250mph.

    I'm fine with these people being prosecuted. What they did is, in fact, theft; not only from their ISP, but also from other customers. Other customers experience obscene slowdowns to dialup speed because a few selfish customers want to download at 10MB/s. But the FBI should not be involved, and certainly these crimes don't call for armed raids. The FBI should be focusing on serious criminals, like terrorists, serial killers, serial rapists, organized child-molesters, organized crime, and large-scale frauds (refer to Enron, Global Crossings).

    This brings up an interesting note on ISPs. Why do broadband companies cap bandwidth at all? Why not just divide up the available bandwidth evenly among all the requesting users. Lets say that there's a 100 users and that the ISP can offer 100MB/s of bandwidth total. If they all request bandwidth at the same time, they should each get 1MB/s of bandwidth. If, later on, only 50 of them are requesting bandwidth, each should get 2MB/s of bandwidth. If only one is requesting bandwidth, (s)he should get 100MB/s of bandwidth. They could also integrate prioritized bandwidth, where you get preference in accordance to how much extra you pay; i.e., if you pay 2x the average, you get 2x the bandwidth at any given moment. Another useful thing to do would be to minimize net wait-times. If person A is downloading a file of 1MB and person B is downloading a file of 2MB, then it makes sense to let person A do his download first, then let person B do his download. This way, the net wait time is 2(1MB / 100MB/s) + 2MB / 100MB/s = 0.04s; instead of 2(2MB / 100MB/s) + 1MB / 100MB/s = 0.05s.
  • by Gyorg_Lavode ( 520114 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:41PM (#4588836)
    So does this mean I can press charges against QWest since I pay for a 256kbps connection and I have never topped 100kbps cumulative of all my downloads and never 70 on a single download?
    • by Kupek ( 75469 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @01:44PM (#4589236)
      This isn't just funny, I think it's a legitamite question.

      If attempting to go get bandwidth you didn't pay for is a violation of the TOS, shouldn't it also be considered a violation of contract if they systematicaly don't get the bandwidth they paid for?
    • by Cyberllama ( 113628 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @05:27PM (#4590522)
      I suspect your mixing some terms there. A 256kbps is 256 kiloBITS per second, thats the equivelent of only 32 KILOBYTES (which is what most programs measure downloads in) per second. My guess is that you were saying you only get 70-100k (kilobytes, not bits) in which case you're getting much more than your gaurenteed amount.

      If you were truly only getting 70kbps or 100kbps, that would be extremely sad. 70 kilobits per second is just under 9 Kilobytes per second, thats slower than shotgun 56k, and just a hair faster than a single 56k modem.

      If you're honestly getting downloads at only 9-13 kilobytes per second, then you definately need to find a new ISP and fast.
  • societal priorities (Score:3, Interesting)

    by InsMonkey ( 324276 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:43PM (#4588853) Homepage
    I'm glad that I live in a country were someone wouldn't be charged with a felony if he raped me, but that he will be shipped off to the Pen if he dares to steal bandwidth from the cable company.
  • So? (Score:5, Funny)

    by 3-State Bit ( 225583 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:45PM (#4588864)
    Big deal! You do the crime, you do the time.
    It's like those posts we always read whenever copyright infringement comes up: "You're stealing. Saying, 'Can I borrow that CD for a sec?', popping it into your CD drive, ripping a track, and giving it back to your friend is NO DIFFERENT from breaking into my house and stealing my computer. If one gets you in jail, so should the other."

    Likewise: What these people did, stealing bandwidth, is NO DIFFERENT from what it would be if, instead of just modifying some hardware in the privacy of their own homes, they BROKE INTO Fort Knox, weilding NUCLEAR WEAPONS LACED WITH BIOCHEMICAL WARFARE and stole BULLION BANDWIDTHS!!!

    It's no different, and I for one am GLAD, do you hear? glad with all my heart to see these CRIMINALS finally come to justice.

    An EULA by a private organization is NO DIFFERENT from a constitutionally sound law passed by a majority of our elected senate and subject to the scrutiny, [1] of an impartial office whose members are appointed by a democratically elected leader (and subject to approval by our democratically elected senate.)

    I don't know about you, but I'll be GLAD when my tax dollars go toward knocking my door down for modding my xbox (which will be specifically illegalificated by the EULA). I'll be laughing all the way to the electric chair! And then have my sentence compounded (two consecutive electrocutions?) for sitting in the electric chair in a non-authorized way!

    How beautiful the world will be when EULA's reign supreme!

    ~Robert.

    [1] against the standard of a sacred document detailing our most cherished rights, and being the only thing separating us from a fascist regime appointed by the majority -- Hitler was elected, don't-ya-know.
  • by Kaiwen ( 123401 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:53PM (#4588908) Journal
    Mr. Runner ... resigned ... after a covert police surveillance operation videotaped him stealing coffee, creamer, and paper from village supplies.
    API, Toledo -- Police announced early today the capture of Mrs. Ima Kremnall, wanted since April on nearly three dozen counts of felony theft of condiments. Culminating a massive six-month sting operation involving federal law enforcement agencies from several states, more than a dozen FBI agents, responding to an anonymous tip phoned in late yesterday, converged on a Burger King's in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where Mrs. Kremnall was apprehended attempting to flee the premises with what a police spokesman described as "more ketchup than she really needed."

    Captain Sheth Fourbranes of the Toledo, Ohio criminal investigations division said a search of Kremnall's glove box yielded a cache of thirty three condiment packets from more than a dozen fast food restaurants scattered across six northern Ohio counties. "Ketchup, mustard, relish -- she had it all," Fourbranes, speaking at an afternoon press conference, said. "We estimate a street value on this stuff of nearly six bits."

    The attorney general's office, calling this a "major victory for law-abiding citizens everywhere", said if convicted the accused could face up to forty two years in prison. Mrs. Kremnall, who is scheduled to be arraigned later this week, was unavailable for comment, but a friend of a friend is said to have described her as being "two french fries short of a Happy Meal".

  • by MrScience ( 126570 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:53PM (#4588912) Homepage
    Halfway down this page [buckeyecablesystem.com] is a list of their agreements.

    From the terms of service:

    The Subscriber must not attach any device that permits access to services in violation of the Subscription Agreement. In addition, federal and state laws prohibit the possession, use, or attempted use of any equipment to receive any Buckeye services except as expressly provided by the Subscription Agreement.

    The subscription agreement [buckeyecablesystem.com]

    17. Buckeye has no responsibility for, and is not liable for, the speed, content, or accuracy of any transmissions on the system.

    And neither this, nor the Acceptible Use Policy [buckeyecablesystem.com] state anything about what download speeds you're allowed.

  • In my opinion.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by _aa_ ( 63092 ) <j.uaau@ws> on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:57PM (#4588936) Homepage Journal
    I recall from a long time ago, a case where phone companies were sued because if you wanted a 2nd phone, you had to go through them and pay extra. They wouldn't allow you to goto your local department store and buy a splitter for a buck and install it yourself. They eventually lost, and because of that, now you can have as many phones in your house as your want. Once the wire comes into your house, what you do with it is your business.

    Similarly, for a long time cable companies would not let you split their signal and have multiple TVs without paying them to do it. Now that has become a major selling point for them against digital satelites. Today when your cable company comes out for whatever reason, they'll happily split your signal for free, replace your low quality splitters with their high quality ones, and leave all your TVs connected no questions asked.

    I think this situation SHOULD fall under the same rule. You pay for the cable to come into your house, If you own your cable modem, you should be able to do anything you want to it. If they REALLY want to cap you, they'll have to do it on their end, because you cannot tell me what I can and cannot do with my property. If your renting the modem, then it's a different situation.

    However, there was absolutly no reason for a gun drawn storm on these individual's homes. I do tons of illegal things via my cable modem, like downloading mp3z and violating the DMCA on a daily basis. I guess the only way to ensure my safety is to get rid of my cable modem and give my money to a small, privatly owned ISP.
  • by Istealmymusic ( 573079 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:58PM (#4588941) Homepage Journal
    "A Word of Warning From A Caught Uncapper"
    by Kris Olsen

    Bored during my summer, I thought I would take this project on. I began my research on June 26, before 2600 published the article on uncapping. Through various methods (mainly IRC), I talked to several people and finally figured out how to uncap my modem. Well, it wasn't as easy as it seems.

    I went to a lot of trouble that in the end left me without cable and nearly in jail.

    My ISP, like many, uses a system called QoS, or Quality of Service. This means a few things.

    1) You can't connect without a config that the ISP doesn't already have (i.e., you can't create a config file with a 10mbit/10mbit line if the cable company only offers 400/200 800/400 and 1.5/512). This means in order to uncap, you can only uncap to a better service plan (i.e., going from 400/200 to 1.5/512).

    2) In order to uncap to a better service plan you must get the config for that service plan, as making one with those caps often will not work. Take note, this config file has a different name than the one sent to your modem, and since the TFTP protocol doesn't allow directory listing, you must either have once used the faster service and seen the config file, or you have to know someone who has it who can help you out. Should you manage to get this config file, your problems are still not over.

    3) The QoS checks your modem's MAC address every 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of your node) to make sure that the parameters set in your modem are the ones that you pay for. Note: the MAC cannot be changed because you have to register your MAC with the ISP, s they inevitably know who you are. To get around the QoS resetting your modem, one may think "Well hay, let's just change the SNMP ports so they can't send the reboot command to me!" Hah! That pisses them off like nothing else, and yes, they can track that. All it takes is about a day to find your port. The default SNMP ports are 161 and 162. I changed minme to 9999999941 and 9999999942. In two days they were once again resetting via SNMP.

    4) So you figure, "Well, that means I have one or two days of uncapped modem, right?" Wrong. There is another way they can reset you that you can do nothing about. In order for your modem to stay connected to the server it must "ping" the server and get responses back. I say "ping" in quotations since it is not your normal 52 byte packet ping. It is a special CMTS type ping. What the ISP can do, should they notice that you are indeed using a faster config, is "suspend" the "pings," meaning that they are lost, and none come back to the modem. This will force an "HFC: Async Error Range Failed" error on your modem's long, which will be followed by "HFC: Shutting Upstream Down," and then "BOOTING: (firmware version)."

    So now, this doesn't seem that bad. You may be thinking, "Why is this guy even writing this stuff - if there is a will there is a way." That is true, but my purpose is to show you that if your ISP does use QoS (examples of some that do are: Blueyonder, ATTBI, Cableone, Charter, Comcast, and NTL) then if you ever attempt ot uncap, they will notice and they will call you.

    I received my first call the morning after I requested tech support to come out and fix the signal strength of my line (it was way out of spec and kept resetting my modem). Well, as protocol they watch your line to see what they can diagnose before the tech arrived at your house. Well that morning (the 10th of July), I uncapped and within ten minutes I had a call from the headquarters of my ISP, some 600 miles away. This was a "tap on the wrist" type conversation. They said basically, we see that you are uncapping, and that violates our Terms of Service agreement. Don't do it again. So I didn't for a while.

    A couple of weeks went by and I used Ethereal, I common network "sniffer", to determine whether or not my ISP was watching my MAC address. Later I learned they were on the entire time and when they saw me "Sniffing" for info, they simply hid themselves behind the IP address 255.255.255.254. Not knowing that information, I decided it was safe to uncap again. And so I did and continued to be reset with HFC errors. I tried various methods to get around it, installed hacked firmware, sent various SNMP commands, even attempted to fake a CMTP server so that the CM would send the "pings" to a computer on my LAN, all to no avail. So when my modem would go back to normal, I would send it a new config, and the process went on and on like that for two weeks or so.

    I left early on a Friday morning for a little weekend getaway. While I was out of town, I didn't even think about the status of my cable. No, I did not leave it uncapped when I left the house, but the damage had already been done. My ISP had all the evidence they needed to shut my cable off, and press misdemeaner charges, mainly based on cyber theft.

    I returned to find a message on my answering machine from an "Internet Engineer" at the ISP's headquarters. He was not very pleased. The message was over 15 minutes long and contained a great deal of threats and comments obviously designed to scare an uncapped. It worked. I was terrified. After hearing the message, I went out to check the mail. In there was an envelope from my ISP containing a "Declaration of Termination of Service." In this letter were several items, including possible criminal charges to be pressed, two pages dealing every time I uncapped from July 10 to the present, and a long, long list of how I violated the Terms of Service with my ISP. Sure enough, when I went to contact the Internet Engineer by email, (the only contact information that was listed), my Internet service did not work. As a routing check, I looked at my modem's long file only to find this disturbing messsage: 7-Information D509.0 Retreived TFTP Config TRMNT.cm SUCCESS.

    I twas clear. My service had been terminated. But my problems were not over yet.

    The following day (August 5) I received another call from him, telling me that the ISP wanted to press charges. As soon as I was off the phone I immediately called my lawyer and told him the entire situation. My lawyer spent the rest of the day on the phone with my ISP and came to an agreement that for the two months that I uncapped, I would have to pay for the better service.

    In the end, uncapping got me these final results:

    Pros:

    • 200+ KBps downloads (needing to be reconfigured every 35 minutes)
    • 100+ KBps uploads (needing to be reconfigured every 35 minutes).

    Cons:

    • No more cable Internet.
    • Almost got charges pressed.
    • Ended up wasting about 150 hours of my life to no avail.
    • Had to deal with really pissed off nerds with power.

    The choice is up to you. This was just my experience.

    ----
    Reprinted from 2600: The Hacker Quarterly [2600.com], Volume 19, Number 3, Fall 2002 without permission. Even though Olsen's account obviously has some glaring mistakes (52-byte ping? Since when is the payload fixed? He probably means an ICMP ping.), I believe it provides an interesting account into what can happen if you're uncapped. Maybe not as drastic as the visit from the FBI in this Slashdot article, but certainly uncapping is still not worth it. Especially when your cable provider is a monopoly!

  • by isorox ( 205688 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @12:59PM (#4588948) Homepage Journal
    OK, we can say that cable ISP's should have better security that stops uncapped modems working, and I agree that uncapping your modem is bad, worse then stealing cable TV. I pay my monthly fee, and make full use of my bandwidth.

    I also understand that my cable ISP has xMBPS going into them, and if too many people use the system, I suffer.

    If I wanted to double my bandwith, I'd pay the extra $15. The ISP can sue part of this to pay for more bandwidth to the cable network, and no-one loses. I'm happy to share my bandwidth to the rest of my house, and if a neighbour buys me an 802.11b access point, they can use it too.

    I wouldnt dream of using bandwidth I didnt pay for. Excusing it as "modifying your own hardware" is the equivelent of "modifying your own jumper to steal goods from a store". This isnt copyright infringment. Thsi isnt stealing cable tv (with a decent box that doesnt effect anyone else) The extra bandwidth you use does have a marginal cost.

    Having said that, I think that FBI agents is extreme. Sure arrest them, put them in the cells for a few days, then give them 100 hours community service, and stop them using cable modems for a year. That's an appropiate sentence for a first offence, even that's probably extreme.
  • by codepunk ( 167897 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @01:00PM (#4588955)
    I pay extra for the fastest connection I can get. If you illegally uncap your modem you are stealing pipe that I paid for. Hell I will go so far as to turn in anyone I find doing this also, I pay for mine you pay for yours. Face it people bandwidth is a limited resource and it very expensive.
  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @01:36PM (#4589192)
    I can go to Circuit City or any of several other computer stores and buy a cable modem. If I don't happen to buy one that is as crippled as the one the local cable company provides, just what crime have I commited? These modems are apparently legal, as they are sold and advertised very openly (and in fact are much more available than DSL modems). It doesn't seem likely that Linksys, Actiontec and the rest will all strive to make the slowest cable modem. How do you keep gun ho yahoos who weren't unstable enough to get into the ATF from breaking down your door if you use a retail purchased cable modem?
  • Read the Contract (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bashar Miles Teg ( 620670 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @02:48PM (#4589608)
    I remember Time Warner pulling this crap on one of their customers, and they lost, guy even got to keep the modded modem.

    Lawyer got him off, based on Time Warner's statements of up to 50x faster and some others like it in their contracts/advertisements. The stance was that he was only obtaining levels they had advertised.

    I have zero sympathy for any ISP that sells accounts and fails to maintain its infrastructure to support them. Instead they just reduce the bandwidth to all customers. I find that significantly more harmful then a couple of people allegedly stealing (read: reclaiming orginally advertised) bandwidth.

    And to add insult to injury the unnecessarily involved law enforcement to "make an example". No it's just another example how they dont' want to use their own resources to solve the problem. Like hiring some to monitor and suspend/ban accounts that are abusing TOS.
    • Adelphia doesn't advertise speeds anymore, probably for this reason. Also, even "slow" cable modem speeds are much, much faster than any dialup, and plenty fast for most users. Most servers and websites can't deliver more than a certain amount anyway. So even throttled back, most users would be perfectly happy with the service they're getting. So why make claims the company has trouble delivering?

      I was getting around 12-1300 kb/s last spring. Because of some DHCP server issues in my region, Adelphia has throttled this back to about half that. I can't say it's affected me at all. A couple of times, I've managed to pull down Linux ISOs at 7-800, and on *one* occasion, around 1M. But that was only once. Most of the time, the sites I connect to can only deliver 50-150, with a few streaming video sites doing better than that.

      So, the 6-800 I'm getting now is just fine, and I'm sure it is for most other users too. And if mosr users would be happy with the speeds they're getting, why shoot yourself in the foot by bringing it up?
  • by barberio ( 42711 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @03:10PM (#4589748) Homepage
    FBI 'raids' have already occured on people uncapping their hardware to take up more bandwidth. And all the same arguments were provided last time this was on slashdot.

    Lets sum them up.

    1) This is lame, its not like its a real crime!

    Answer : This is a real crime. Uncapping your modem increases your use of the ISP's equipment. Not only does this steal from the ISP, it is also detrimental to the other users of the service.

    2) Why is the FBI involved, thats Overkill?

    Answer: The FBI are involved because the only two agencies with jursdiction in america over Network Crimes which may pass in and out of normal police lines are the Secret Service and the FBI. Who do you prefer to have knocking on your door?

    3) I bought this modem, its my property and I am alowed to change the settings on it as I wish.

    Answer: Okay, lets make an analogy. I own some magnetic swipe plastic cards. Using a card programer I also own, I program these cards to match other peoples credit cards. I then go out and buy stuff. I've only used my property to do that, so its not illegal right?

    4) They can solve this problem at the router side anyway! They dont have to mess around the users.

    This is just flat wrong. Any distributed network, especialy wan systems that share contention, can be damaged by individual network stations. There is no way to get around this. You can only stop them off at the network segments you directly control, but by then the proformance of any network segments prior to that may have been degraded. A badly configured modem/home router sending oddly configured packets in an atempt to 'fix' their access can do bad things to a network.
  • Good ol' Toledo (Score:4, Informative)

    by Adam9 ( 93947 ) on Sunday November 03, 2002 @04:37PM (#4590267) Journal
    Apparently this is the second time my city (Toledo) has used the FBI [slashdot.org] for this. Anyways, I'm pretty sure the Blade always has extensive coverage of this because the same family owns the Blade and the local cable company (which has a cable monopoly in Toleod and its surrounding areas).
  • by SystematicPsycho ( 456042 ) on Monday November 04, 2002 @02:04AM (#4592753)
    1) Get caught up in the legal system, 1/5 to 2/5th's of your life will go down the drain and you'll come out losing faith in all of society and humanity.

    2) Be made an example of by the authorities testing out there new piece of legislation. This could be more harmful to you than the first.

    I thought about uncapping my modem, only because $80AUS a month for a 3G limit is criminal, but they classify that as stealing, and if it's one thing the authorities know jack shit about it's technology, so they'll enforce the law tougher than anywhere else and make examples out of ppl left right and center. It amazes me that hackers can get equal or lengthier sentences than rapists or murderers.

Diplomacy is the art of saying "nice doggy" until you can find a rock.

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