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FBI Raids Homes and Seizes Bandwidth Pirates' PCs 815

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-thats-not-very-fun dept.
Saturated Subnet writes "Recently in Toledo, OH FBI agents and a local police task force raided 13 residence and seized 23 computers. Some users of the local cable broadband provider had uncapped their cable modems." It appears to be a smaller ISP, and the article says these 23 people cost them a quarter of a million bucks. Who has time to look at $10,800 worth of pr0n?
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FBI Raids Homes and Seizes Bandwidth Pirates' PCs

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  • by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Thursday June 27, 2002 @09:52AM (#3778567)
    What happend to just cancelling their service?
  • by MattW (97290) <matt@ender.com> on Thursday June 27, 2002 @09:52AM (#3778572) Homepage
    Who's going to use buckeye cable after it is known they have their customers arrested? Who's to say they didn't make the mistake? Someone complains of high ping, tech tampers with modem, and a few months later, the customer goes to jail? There's service with a smile. Thanks, but if I heard that, I'd certainly be looking at my DSL providers.
  • TOS (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jucius Maximus (229128) <zyrbmf5j4x AT snkmail DOT com> on Thursday June 27, 2002 @09:52AM (#3778575) Homepage Journal
    So the users broke the TOS of their ISP. That's what happens.

    If you drove down the highway at 300 km/h (180 mph) and thought it was perfectly alright because it's your car and you can tinker with it if you want, should you get caught?

    No, the roads are governmentally (and thus publicly) owned.

  • by moorg (537751) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @09:57AM (#3778620)
    Everytime somebody figures out how to get HBO for free are we going to call in the Feds? How about turning their service off?

    I could see suing somebody over EULA violations or some other form of civil action...but the Feds?

    Go look for terrorist and give these kids their cable modems back. Hell they probably just used all the bandwidth that my cable company has promised me but never delivered. ;)
  • by dubiousmike (558126) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @09:57AM (#3778621) Homepage Journal
    Come on! The FBI now needs to do everything over the top.

    Unless it involves protecting the US from terrorism, pre-9/11.

    Now they will scurry to "protect national interests" like a small IP's "lost revenue".

    That is kind of fuzzy, isn't it? I mean, did other customers go without bandwidth becuase of these few? Somehow, I doubt it.

    Eh, what the heck. Let's increase their budget by 100%. This way they can start busting teens who crack the latest version of Dreamweaver.
  • by kaybee (101750) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @09:59AM (#3778640) Homepage
    I agree... this is ridiculous. If they are stealing bandwith, stop them. Or, better yet, come up with a better system to prevent them from stealing bandwidth.

    If you want to punish them, make them sign a contract that says they owe you a fine if they get caught stealing bandwidth. Then you can take them to civil court if you catch them.

    Using the FBI and my tax dollars to interfere with a small problem between a few individuals and company really pisses me offe].
  • To scare people (Score:5, Insightful)

    by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:02AM (#3778659) Homepage
    The cable company wanted to scare people.


    One FBI raid = 10,000 disconections.

  • Going Overboard? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enonu (129798) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:02AM (#3778666)
    How about something simpler? I suggest the following:

    Dear customer,

    We have detected that you have uncapped your cable modem, and are using more bandwidth than specified in your contract. You have 3 days to revert the changes you made to your cable modem, or your service will pernamently be canceled and you will be billed for the excess bandwidth you have used at a rate of $XX.XX per megabyte.

    Any reason why this wouldn't work? Sending the FBI to investigate is a waste of time and resources for our govt IMHO.
  • Inflated numbers? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MAXOMENOS (9802) <maxomai AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:02AM (#3778667) Homepage

    Keep in mind that the quarter million dollar figure may have nothing to do with the actual actual damages incurred. Companies often make up figures like this in order to get the FBI's attention, since nothing under $5000 worth of damage is worth investigating. It also makes for better headlines, especially with a politically ambitious prosecutor.

    Sure, this would be lying to Federal agents, which is a felony; but several companies got away with it in the Mitnick case, too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:04AM (#3778682)
    I mean, did other customers go without bandwidth becuase of these few? Somehow, I doubt it.


    The ISP pays for a certain amount of bandwidth; these guys used more of that than they paid for. They violated the contract. Maybe none of the other customers had to wait longer for their pr0n, but actual harm here is beside the point. If I fail to fix my known-to-be-failing brakes, and luckily plunge into the ocean instead of hitting anybody, I'm still a negligent f*** and deserve punishment ... actual harm is often beside the point.

    Although you're right, I don't see why the FBI had to be involved here.
  • Fraud (Score:5, Insightful)

    by barberio (42711) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:08AM (#3778723) Homepage
    Some people may be wondering why the FBI was involved with this. The answer is simple. This constitutes fraud.

    If you were to wire up a box on your phone to enable you to get free calls then you'd find your self in the same situation. And its escentialy the same crime as uncaping your cable modem/dsl router. As stealing phone calls detriments the ability of the whole network from ordinary users, so does stealing bandwidth.

    I find myself stressing this again, Bandwidth Is Not Free. Bandwidth is not an artificialy restricted resource. It is a true limited resource, there is only so much you can put over a cable, and you need to ofset the costs of maintenece on that cable and the initial cost of laying it in the first place.

    Doing it is illegal. Its also easy to trace. So they called the people who have jurisdiction for wire frauds and computer crime. its as simple as that. ISPs regularly warn users not to do this, and when they do, its justifyable to take it up with the authorities.

    Wether its rational to do search and seazure of equipment is another matter, that may put the FBI in the wrong.
  • by JohnDenver (246743) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:13AM (#3778773) Homepage
    You're anology has this huge gaping hole in it...

    1. Speeding is a crime...
    2. Breaking TOS is a breach of contract

    One of these subjects you statuatory court, the other subjects you to civil court.
  • by lewp (95638) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:15AM (#3778791) Journal
    Why not blame both of them and hopefully end up with a system that's better at preventing theft rather than a special FBI "OMG THAT KID H4X3D OUR CABLE MODEM" unit?

    Punishing the offender is fine, but it'd be a good idea for the poor, innocent cable company to throw up at least a speed bump in their way.

    As far as my tax dollars, I'm not happy about them being spent on this. That said, considering some of the other things they are being spent on, I'm not going to whine too much about it.
  • by jbarr (2233) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:15AM (#3778794) Homepage
    ...that sometimes they will get caught and will have to pay the consequences for their actions?

    I am very comfortable knowing that the cable companies are being proactive about nailing those who are stealing service. I pay for my all my services. Why should someone else get a free ride?

    I have nothing against classical hacking, but when it comes to service theft, it's what it is: theft.
  • Uncapping isn't theft of service though.

    You did read where he said that some didn't use more than than their bandwidth allocation anyway, right?

    And if they own their own cable modems...

    Besides which, if they really were stealing service, I *am* against that. Arrest and prosecute them. This seems like a ploy to confiscate their hardware without a trial.

    Actually, I think he may have said they only used slightly more than their allocation. Which means in a trial, they only have to prove that the extra was on a local segment, and not to some peering trunk, and they're home free. Or maybe they can show instances where they used far less than their fair share, and it balances out.

    They could have canceled service, and would have been within their rights. Siccing law enforcement on the uncappers was uncalled for.
  • by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:16AM (#3778802)
    ...it is breach of contract, nothing more. And, since it is a breach of contract, as numerous others have pointed out, a pair of wire cutters (or a flip of a switch) would have more than sufficed to put an end to this behavior.

    If you agree to drive 10 truck on the expressway for a certain, flat tax, and instead drive 500, you haven't stolen anything. Not even the taxes you should have paid. The road is still there, the taxes you did pay are still there ... you are merely in debt for the difference still owed. No theft committed. None.

    You've violated your contract (and failed to pay taxes that are due), but once again, that is not theft. The same is true in this situation.

    Your other point is very good: wonders how many Al Q'aida sleeper cells are going to go undetected here in the U.S. because of American companies like this one who feel it somehow appropriate to appropriate the FBI's services as an enforcement arm of their End User License Agreements and service contracts.
  • by b_pretender (105284) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:16AM (#3778806)
    Just look at the way the article was worded:

    Investigators believe cable modems that connect Buckeye Express customers to the Internet were altered, allowing computer users unauthorized access to excessive amounts of bandwidth.

    and

    Mr. Shryock said he was unaware of an Internet cable provider taking steps to have illegal bandwidth users prosecuted.

    and

    Paul Shryock, director of information services at Buckeye CableSystem, estimated the loss from the illegal use of the bandwidth at $250,000.

    Does anyone notice how the article paints the bandwidth users in a similar manner to drug users?? "Illegal use of bandwidth"? It probably the case that, not one of the "illegal bandwidth" users did anything illegal with the "Excessive" amounts of bandwidth. The wording is rather ridiculous in the article.

    IMO, no amount of bandwidth is excessive. Since the FBI was invovled, I doubt this is a breach of contract (read: Civil) case. They probably are pressing charges for the *theft* of bandwidth. The clueless reporter decided to treat bandwidth as a controlled substance.

  • Don't bable (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:17AM (#3778810)
    "I find myself stressing this again, Bandwidth Is Not Free. Bandwidth is not an artificialy restricted resource"

    Yes yes, we all get that. Its why bandwidth costs $40 a month. We really really really really understand it.

    What's not at all clear is if this is against the law. Just saying "its stealing" doesn't mean anything. "Its stealing" defines payroll taxes as well, but nobody is prosecuted for it.

    So while we really really really understand that bandwidth is limited. And we really really really understand that its against the TOS for guys to uncap their cable modem, we really really really don't understand why the FBI is involved, since we really really really don't understand what laws were broken.

    Okay? You can go on again about bandwidth being a limited somethingorother that you enjoy.
  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:23AM (#3778859) Homepage
    Would you believe that some people just want faster Kazaa, and will believe anyone who claims they can boost their modem ? Maybe it's just the neighborhood, but I receive spam about uncapping my modem every few weeks. "Enjoy faster browsing speeds with your existing internet provider. Make the most of your unlimited internet."

    I'm sure at least a handful of naive folks have had their modems uncapped by such con artists, just like some people don't understand why it's still illegal to watch premium cable even though they paid 200$ for a 'black box' descrambler.

    Now the even stupider part of this scenario is the actual seizing of equipment. "The cable modem is illegally modified, so we'll confiscate all your computer equipment. Even the Apple-IIe over there, it might hold evidence!". Let's say I splice some wires off of my neighbor's phone line and rack up his bill with 1-900 charges, will the cops come and take all my phones away ? Nah, they'll just cut the wires and arrest me for fraud or something, or maybe the neighbor will just take me to small claims court. Another example: if I drive away from a pump station without paying for the fuel, will the cops seize my vehicle ? Hell no, they'll just charge me with petty theft and again I will be open for a lawsuit by the gas station.

    These people abused the service, their service should be cut and then they should be sued for what they stole, plus damages and a punitive fine. But give them back their fricking hardware. The cops have no business here, they delivered the message and that's where it ends.
  • by Paul Johnson (33553) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:28AM (#3778892) Homepage
    I don't have a problem with the idea that uncapping your cable modem is theft of service, or with the idea that the perpetrators should be prosecuted.

    Where I do have a problem is with what actually happened and the lack of due process associated. Look at the sequence of events:

    1. The ISP notices the uncapped modem (I gather they use SNMP to ask the modem what its set to: nothing sophisticated).
    2. The ISP calls the FBI and alleges that this crime has cost it over $10,000. Hmmm. Where did that number come from? I'm on a 512kbit service for £25/month. Suppose I uncapped my modem to get the theoretical maximum of 64Mbits (the full channel bandwidth that is shared between all users on a spur). That is in theory a 128-fold increase in service, so I should be paying £3,200 per month, or around $5,000. So that may be two months service at 64Mbits. Maybe not too unreasonable, although I don't know how they estimated the time.
    3. The FBI get a search warrant based on the ISP's complaint and seize computers. This is perfectly legal: the authorities are permitted to seize the "instrumentality of the crime". If a PC was used to uncap the modem then it is an instrumentality of the crime. Also, if the case came to court then the defence could ask what evidence the prosecution had that the supposed perpetrators were actually responsible. Maybe it was a prankster thinking to do a "favour". Any prosecution is going to need smoking-gun scripts found on the suspect's PCs.
    4. No charges are filed. Despite what I said just now, the whole thing is never tested in court. Confiscation of the computers (and any private data thereon) is considered enough of a punishment, and doesn't require the expense of a trial.
    All of this is perfectly reasonable and legal, but it is never the less an end-run around the due-process principle. Based on a complaint and a search warrant your property can be effectively confiscated, and you have almost no come-back. Of course in theory you can sue for the return of your property, but all the police have to do is claim an "ongoing investigation" to make the suit fail.

    Paul.

  • Uh huh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:36AM (#3778969)
    "I tend to think more on a moral level than a legal level."

    I tend to believe your knee jerks more than your brain thinks.

    But I believe I'm being too kind.

    Did you catholic upbringing allow you to simply state things, claim they're moral imperitives and that removes them from any further debate?

    You don't get the moral high ground that easily.

    P.S. Aren't you shocked, just *shocked* about all those priests? I mean, who could believe that a guy who willingly gives up sex could be repressing pedophile urges. I'm just shocked!
  • by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:45AM (#3779046)
    Maybe I am just one of those old moralists or it was my Catholic school up bringing. I think when you take something that is not yours, its stealing.

    Yes, but nothing here has been taken.

    So if you if you signed a contract that states you will only take 1.5Mb/s of bandwidth and you modify a device to take more than 1.5Mb/s, you are stealing along with breaching a contract.

    No, you're not, anymore than you are "stealing" if you rent a car agreeing to not drive it faster than 65 MPH, then take it out on the highway and top it out at 120 MPH.

    You are misusing equipment and violating your contract. You haven't taken anything, ergo you have stolen nothing.

    It is abuses of the English language like this that not only muddy thinking, but result in the kinds of preposterous public policy such muddy thinking creates, such as the Microsoft/Hollywood attempt at using DRM to cripple technology and consumer choice in the name of preventing "theft" which doesn't even exist (c.f the Palladium thread and the numerous DMCA, SSSCA. CBDTPA, and TCPA threads).

    Redefining words to mean something they don't, and then misusing those definitions, is not the moral high ground.

    If you want to argue that abusing equipment and violating service agreements is morally wrong, I would agree with you. However, if you want to continue to argue that abusing a service now suddenly equates theft, even when nothing has been taken, then I must respectfully disagree.
  • by Gaijin42 (317411) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:46AM (#3779052) Homepage
    Nobody went without bandwidth, but the ISP had to pay for the bandwidth, and at the ISP level, bandwidth is often metered. So this is not the case of "they cost us the 1/4 million in revenue they should have had to pay for this" but an actual " they cost us the 1/4 million we had to pay our upstream for the bandwidth they used, when they only paid us $30/mo"
  • by lionchild (581331) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:57AM (#3779137) Journal
    In other news today, we find that the FBI is overbudget by $59.5M this year. Independent analysts and slashdot readers point to the increased costs of equipment siezure and storage, then transport and return of same said equipment.

    Story at eleven.
  • by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenisNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:59AM (#3779148) Homepage
    Why not blame both of them and hopefully end up with a system that's better at preventing theft rather than a special FBI "OMG THAT KID H4X3D OUR CABLE MODEM" unit?

    And next you will say rape victims were asking for it....

    As far as my tax dollars, I'm not happy about them being spent on this. That said, considering some of the other things they are being spent on, I'm not going to whine too much about it.

    Well angry you may be, the goal, protection of local way of life, maintained.

    Tom
  • by danheskett (178529) <danheskett@CURIE ... minus physicist> on Thursday June 27, 2002 @11:14AM (#3779265)
    I would agree that the letter of their law (the SLA, user agreement, ect) definitely would spell out their bandwidth cap, proper usage, ect and that these poor saps were doing wrong.

    Its much more than that - they actually had to actively research, find out how, and modify their cable modems to use more bandwidth. Its pretty much not something that accidentally happens. You have to actively participate in it.

    But this smacks to me of guys caught with acid who are spending 30 years in jail.
    We have no idea how much time (if any) they will actually get. But lets be clear about really happened. Some guys were unhappy with what they were getting for what they paid. Instead of shopping around for better service, or complaining, or taking acceptable actions to get better service they used technological measures to use more of the service than they were paying for. Not only did they do that, but some of them used truly excessive amounts of bandwidth. 250k is a lot of bandwidth.

    I realize there are laws that might spell certain criminal legal action, but this seems like more of a civil suit kind of deal.
    There will probably be two components to the trial - one criminal and one civil. But what can you do to teenagers (some of the people involved were high-school aged) with no assets? They are judgement proof. Great - someone gets a 250k judgement against me they are still only getting whats in my checking account.

    What I don't get are all the apologists going around. "There are worse things being done by G-men all the time! Its not a big deal - we shouldnt waste our money and time on these bozo's!"

    It doesn't matter what else is going on - these people took concrete steps to defraud their service provider. A nice solid case is being built against them even as we speak. The average per person works out to be like $10k - all the while they are paying $30/mo for the service. Does that seem right to you? They modified the equipment to steal $9970/mo in bandwidth. Not only that, but they were key in degrading the experience of everyone else on the network. The fees those people paid for cable modem service ought to be included in the judgement. They were denied proper service by these criminals.

    But somehow this isnt important, because we have other things to do. Somehow we should just leave them alone because, you know, we dont want them doing jail time. Well you know what, this type of stuff really impacts the rest of us. Its going to impact us more and more. Next time your ISP comes out with a new cable modem with "mandatory monitoring software" installed, which caps and watches all your traffic, and which doesnt work wit h your OS of choice, don't be suprised.

    I saw fine them a total of damages + (damages * 3), plus give them 90 days in the can each.
  • by danheskett (178529) <danheskett@CURIE ... minus physicist> on Thursday June 27, 2002 @11:16AM (#3779273)
    No, but they're evidence. I am sure they are discovering a few pretty good sized ftp servers, some software of the "cracking" nature, instructions on how to modify cable modems, etc.

    All of which is evidence in the upcoming trial.
  • by Ioldanach (88584) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @11:17AM (#3779281)
    So this is not the case of "they cost us the 1/4 million in revenue they should have had to pay for this" but an actual " they cost us the 1/4 million we had to pay our upstream for the bandwidth they used, when they only paid us $30/mo"
    I'd also dispute that they could have cost $250,000 in bandwidth fees, as well. I don't know of any cable modem which has better than a 10mbit ethernet connection. Buckeye cable limits downloads to 1mbit, and charges $45/mo for service. 13 people were charged. Ok, lets say all 13 uncapped their service. They're now receiving 10mbit service, which is 10 times their original service, or $450 worth of service per month. For 13 people, that's $5850/month in charges, minus the $45 they're already paying, comes to $5265/month. At that rate, they'd have to steal service for 4 years to hit $250,000 in damages. As far as I'm aware, the cable company can only prove this as far back as Feb, when they became aware of it. That's 5 months, or about $26,000. I'd say they seriously need to get slapped down. Exceeding allotted bandwidth may be a breach of service, but it isn't worth what they say it is.
  • by OxOx (578619) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @11:37AM (#3779423)
    Since it was grand theft the FBI was involved.

    No, no, no. Since they were investigating a federal crime, the FBI was involved. The FBI doesn't investigate "big" crimes, they investigate federal crimes. Grand theft is, in fact, a "bigger" crime than petty theft, but they are both, generally, state offenses, investigated by the local gendarmes, not the FBI. The difference is that one is a felony and one is a misdemeanor.

    This is actually an important point that shouldn't be lost - more and more criminal offenses are becoming federalized, distancing the investigation, prosecution and sentencing from local accountability, which is one of the main reasons these are state offenses in the first place. A good example is sentencing for homicide cases in Washington, DC. DC doesn't have capital punishment (no capital in the Capitol, doncha know?). The DC electorate passed a referendum supporting the no-death penalty position. In several cases, however, cases were prosecuted under applicable federal statutes specifically to allow the death penalty to be imposed.

    Also worrisome to me is the overzealous use of the seizure power by police at all levels. Once they've got your stuff, it's damn hard to get it back. In many cases, even if you're acquitted, they keep the stuff, auction it off, and send the $$ to the city coffers, to be used to seize more stuff. When I was in college in the mid-80s, the local police seized an apartment building because the owners were (allegedly) selling dope (not even crack) out of it. They then sold the building for a pittance to the university, which rented it to students. The owners were acquitted of the drug charges, but the college got a cheap building nonetheless.

  • by mgessner (46612) <mgssnr&gmail,com> on Thursday June 27, 2002 @11:51AM (#3779549) Journal
    I agree with what you've written.

    Since when does the Executive Branch (here represented by the FBI) get to exercise powers given to the Judicial Branch (the courts), in that it's the *courts* who decide the punishment?

    This certainly does lack due process.

    That was one of my first thoughts on reading the article.
  • by mach-5 (73873) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @12:00PM (#3779620) Homepage
    I don't think this is the message we ought to be sending, that it's OK to root someone's box and nothing will happen to you if the dammage doesn't exceed a certain dollar amount.
    The FBI has limited resources and I'm sure that sometimes they need to carefully pick-and-choose the cases they pursue because of this. Remember, these are OUR tax dollars they are preserving by doing this.
  • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @12:03PM (#3779636) Homepage
    LEGALLY differentiates stealing $10,000 of bandwidth from stealing $10,000 of, say, audio equipment from the local Sound Advice store?

    Nothing which is kinda like why people are asking why the FBI thought that a full scale commando raid was required here.

    There are some slashdotters who don't get the concept of private property (frequently those with Ayn Rand sigs even!) when it is inconvenient to them. However in this case the law is very clear that taking cable services without paying for them is considered theft - even if you pay for basic and used an illegal upgrade.

    One explanation for the FBI action is that the local cops are simply not up to doing this type of investigation, which is quite likely. But dawn raids and the like are just grandstanding pure and simple.

    The FBI has two image problems, the first is that they are incompetent and unable to catch criminals. The second is that they act with political motivations. This sort of behavior is designed to solve the first image problem, but it reinforces the second which for many people is the more worrying one.

    Ariana Huffington wrote a good piece in Salon recently where she attributed the failure of the FBI to go after the 9/11 hijackers before 9/11 because terrorism was not as sexy as drug busts. The media were much more likely to film the director standing next to a desk piled high with plastic bags filled with coke than they are the arrest of an obscure islamic fanatic. So the investigators were unable to get warrants etc. because Freeh's beuraucrats didn't give the investigation enough priority to go to a court to ask for a court order. Administration solution to this problem? simple, eliminate the requirement to ask for court orders!

    The gun nuts used to say that the 2nd ammendment protects the other 10. Empirically this is not the case with Ashcroft. Free Speech, Due Process, Right to a speedy trial, Right to legal representation have all been compromised since 9/11. While we have the administration's word that this only applies to Al Qaeda the administration is also saying that anyone who is not with them is supporting the terrorists. I just don't get the feeling that Ashcroft has any reluctance to tearing up any parts of the bill of rights excapt for the second ammendment.

  • by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @12:29PM (#3779832)
    Yes, but nothing here has been taken.

    You are so wrong it's obscene. When you signup with an ISP, what do you get? You get an internet connection, and X amount of bandwidth. You have BOUGHT that bandwidth, it's yours... If you take more than that it's stealing.

    Your thinking is so muddy it's obscene. The Mississippi River is pristine in comparison.

    Let me use another real world analogy that should clear this up:

    If you are a shipping company using the limited capacity of, say, the Panama or Suez canal, and you have a contract that allows you to send 5 ships a day through the canal for a particular price, and you decide to slip 10 ships through instead, have you stolen the canal?

    No.

    Have you stolen money from the canal operators (assume for a moment there is no way for them to easilly charge you each time a ship passes through, ie. no toll booth on the canal itself)?

    No.

    Do you owe the canal operators money?

    Yes.

    Are you in violation of your contract?

    Yes.

    Are you absuing the services of the canal by taking up more of its capacity than your contract allows?

    Yes.

    Are you "stealing" capacity?

    No, because capacity is a numerical measure, not an object that can be stolen. You are misusing the canal's limited resources, but you are not taking them anywhere.

    To make this even more crystal clear for those who are still unable to shed the mental shackles of the Newspeak definitino of theft that the media cartels have been feeding them for the last two decades, consider this.

    If, instead of filling the canal with ships and using up its capacity in that fashion, are you engaging in theft if you blow the canal up and turn it into a dry river bed?

    No, obviously not. You haven't engaged in theft at all, you've engaged in vandalism, sabatage, and perhaps terrorism, but you have not engaged in theft, even though you've reduced the canal's usable capacity down to zero.

    How about if you build a damn to block the canal (but don't destroy it)?

    Again, no, you aren't stealing anything, you are merely abusing the canal and making it useless to others, ie. are reducing its usable capacity to zero.

    Using something in excess to what your contract allows, such as capacity, is not and can never be theft. Indeed the very nature of what we are talking about precludes the possibility of theft as such, without rewriting the definition of the word itself to mean something different than it does, which is exactly what you, and the software and entertainment monopolists you so transparently represent, are trying to do. Which is muddy thinking at its worst.

    Allow me to reiterate for the remarkably dense: You haven't stolen anything, you haven't taken anything. Capacity is not an object that can be taken, no theft can be committed.

    Your inability to think clearly is a direct result of your misuse of the English language, probably because of your inability to question the misuse of the same language software and entertainment monopolists have been feeding you for years.

    BANDWIDTH isn't a thing, it is a measure of capacity, and just as your overuse of a canal's capacity doesn't entail theft of any kind, so to your overuse of a network's capacity doesn't entail theft of any kind.

    It does, however, mean you are in violation of contract and very likely owe a serious debt to the providor whose equipment and network you have misused.

    It is plain and simple misuse of the English language and common sense that truly results in muddy thinking, exactly like the kind you are displaying here.

    Yes, bandwidth is limited. But it nevertheless cannot be taken, and cannot be stolen (without rewriting the defintion of those words), it can merely be misused or abused.
  • by schmaltz (70977) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @12:35PM (#3779893)
    at the ISP level, bandwidth is often metered
    Nope. You buy a full T1, you get 1.54Mbits per second, and you get all of it, all the time. If you don't use it, you don't get a refund. If your connection to the service provider allows you to draw 2.0Mbps, and they allow you to do it, that is their problem, unless you agreed to pay for excess bandwidth.

    So-called metered bandwidth, e.g. fractional T1s or T3s, are still the responsibility of your upstream provider to limit your bandwidth. The only exception I've seen to this is when you are buying a fractional T1 with "free" 100GB transfer -if you take a deal like this, you've made the bed now sleep in it.

    Bandwidth limiting is built into many routers and switches, and it's now part of BSD distributions (altqd). There is NO excuse for a cable ISP to not limit their own upstream bandwidth usage at the router, and limiting -or cutting off- customer bandwidth is also likewise trivial.

    Finally, if they became aware of uncapped modems back in Feb, why didn't they just cut them off? Simplest thing!

    I think the reason they didn't is, they wanted to scare the rest of their customers into behaving.
  • by bitbin (49066) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @12:58PM (#3780043) Homepage Journal
    There's more to the world than T1s and T3s. Many customers have a OC-whatever or even Gb link to their ISPs and they have such agreements in place that they will pay for a certain amount of bandwidth flat fee and then pay for excess bandwidth. this makes sense in the case where there is a legitimate demand for more bandwidth at certain times instead of just providing crappy service.

    I do agree that Buckeye should have been keeping a closer eye on why their usage was jumping up so high.
  • civil forfeiture (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 27, 2002 @02:25PM (#3780755)
    once you become suspected of a crime, all of your assets plus any assets around you automatically become subject to civil forfeiture nowdays.
  • Of course Ken Lay hasn't been charged with anything.

    None of the Toledo bandwidth thieves are socialites with a history of making donations to political parties. Nor can they afford fantastic legal advice. If they could, they wouldn't need to steal bandwidth.

    President Bush said something about how "95 percent of American business is run honestly and fairly, without incident." Too bad that other 5 percent is stealing MILLIONS OF DOLLARS from people who never had it to begin with.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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