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Piracy Censorship Communications Privacy News

Cox Stands Pat, Won't Spy On Customers To Appease Copyright Holders (hothardware.com) 97

MojoKid writes: Cox Communications is standing up for its subscribers by so far refusing to spy on their online activities and take legal action against those who download copyrighted material. That stand has already cost the ISP $25 million (the amount a Virginia federal jury recently came up with when it ruled that Cox was responsible for the activities of those using its service), and it could cost Cox even more. The ruling against Cox took place last December. Since then, music publisher BMG has followed up by asking a court to issue a permanent injunction against Cox. BMG also wants the ISP to boot customers who have pirated content and share the details of those subscribers with copyright holders. The topic of deep packet inspection has also come up. Despite all this, Cox is holding firm in its position. "To the extent the injunction requires either termination or surveillance, it imposes undue hardships on Cox, both because the order is vague and because it imposes disproportionate, intrusive, and punitive measures against households and businesses with no due process," Cox stated in its reply.
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Cox Stands Pat, Won't Spy On Customers To Appease Copyright Holders

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  • Can we donate? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spiritplumber ( 1944222 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @07:39AM (#51526371) Homepage
    Seriously, they should do a gofundme.
    • Re:Can we donate? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @09:32AM (#51526751) Journal

      As a Cox customer, this makes me happy to give them my subscription dollars.

      I don't think that's a phrase I ever thought I'd say: "I'm happy to give a telecom my money."

      Still, I always use a VPN anyway.

      • Ditto. I've had Cox for about 8 years now, and it's easily the best ISP I've ever dealt with. Fast connections, reasonable pricing, and I can count the number of downtime hours on a single hand. I know I sound like a corporate shill, but they just haven't given me a reason to say anything bad about them.

        It makes me feel sorry for the people that have Comcast because all I hear are bad things. Where I live, I only have 3 options for broadband; Cox, AT&T DSL, or satellite. Surely that's the same in m

        • I second your corporate shilling. In addition to the stuff I already said about appreciating this move to protect privacy, I'll add that I have been a Cox customer now for going on 20 years (cable TV before Internet) and have basically never had a problem with them. I'll take the time to post that because positive reinforcement can't hurt.

          • I'll third the corporate shilling. I had Cox for at least 7 years in the Phoenix area and never had a problem with them. There was one time my connection went out, but they responded quickly, came by and fixed some corroded or failed connector on the cable coming into the house. They were always fair to deal with. It's too bad they aren't a choice nationwide. They're a hell of a lot better than Comcrap.

            There was also another incident I had with Cox a while back: they upgraded their systems so my old ca

        • Meh. Cox isn't that great and I've been an customer of their internet service for over 16 years and my family has been a cable TV customer off and on for over 20 years.

          While they have progressively increased speeds (and are finally supporting IPv6) they also steadily increase prices. The cost of my tier of service has nearly doubled over the last 15 years (but speeds have more than doubled.)
          They used to (they might still) advertise only the first year promotional price for services without listing anywhere

        • by sudon't ( 580652 )

          You can barely consider the other two to be "options". AT&T's advertised top DSL speed is 6 Mbps, (0.75 megabytes per second), and satellite is expensive and comes with a ton of latency - impossible for gaming. You, like most people, really only have one option for high speed, (by American standards), internet in your area. Be glad your single choice is (so far) a good one.

          Nevertheless, I wouldn't trust any ISP. Using an encrypted VPN is simply the smart thing to do, for so many reasons.

      • Cox sounds so much better than my ISP. And that's why I'm going to switch to them today!


        ...oh, wait.
    • Don't mistake their willingness to stand up to the content industry as a sign that they give a shit about their customers. The first argument against this is "it imposes undue hardships on Cox", re: "You want us to spend money implementing deep packet inspection, and lose more money kicking paying customers off of our network, to impose your rules, at zero benefit to us. No Thanks". The privacy arguments just make good PR.

      To be fair, they're probably the best telecom out there, but that's still like bein
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Because that's the only leg they have to stand on. They wouldn't win on "we give a shit about our customers".

        Are you an idiot on purpose ?

      • Re:Can we donate? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by suutar ( 1860506 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @11:54AM (#51527645)

        That's the only argument Cox has standing to make - they have to show that _they_ are being harmed; otherwise their opinion is legally irrelevant.

      • Re:Can we donate? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @11:57AM (#51527661)

        This seems like a bit of a stretch. I wouldn't call it "corporate greed" when a corporation is asked to fuck over their customers, and refuses because it's going to cost them both money and customers.

        Pick your favorite for-profit company, one that no one really thinks of as "greedy", perhaps some nice local restaurant, or a doctor's office or veterinarian. Now, imagine that company is asked to spend a ton of money installing equipment spying on all their customers, blatantly violating their privacy (this is really bad in the doctor's office case, and violates HIPAA), and turning this information over to some other party so the customers can be sued for some baseless BS such as defamation or something (because the customers bashed some political candidate while chatting in the waiting room maybe, or in the exam room while waiting for the doctor).

        Is the doctor's office "greedy" because they refuse to implement this, on their own dime no less?

        Really, when any company is asked to aid and abet in fucking over their customer, how is it "not noble" when that company flatly refuses? It doesn't make them a saint, but I don't see how you can fault them for it one bit. What kind of idiot would want to fuck over his own customers? It only makes rational sense for a company to refuse.

        • Well just imagine that the doctor you speak of got legislation passed in your area making it damned near impossible for other doctors to come in and set up shop, even going so far as to sign an agreement with your landlord that only that doctor could care for the residents. Now imagine that that doctor has the balls to say that "they're doing it to protect the patients from bad doctors" and act all goodie goodie when a legitimate threat came up and they just happened to be able to stand on the side of right
          • Are you alleging that Cox had all the other cable providers shut down? That seems unlikely; I've never even heard of a place with more than one cable provider. They're natural local monopolies.

            There's a difference between the doctor rigging the system to shut out competition from other doctors, and the doctor simply being the only doctor in town and no other doctors wanting to move there and try to compete.

      • by irving47 ( 73147 )

        You're probably technically right. But it may be only in the legal sense, give the responses already posted here...

        Also, bear in mind they could do exactly what AT&T and other cell providers did when congress mandated cell phone number portability between carriers...
        They all tacked on a $2 charge on every bill and called it "regulatory compliance recovery fee" or something similar.

      • In addition to what the others stated, you left this out: " and because it imposes disproportionate, intrusive, and punitive measures against households and businesses with no due process." So there's self interest AND disagreement on a more fundamental level, mixed together. Nothing wrong with that in my book.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @07:58AM (#51526411)

    The federal court ruling sets a dangerous precedent. Now if an ISP fails to stop the distribution of illegal materials such as (think of the children) pornography either served to a minor or of an exploited minor, the ISP can be sued by the parents of said children. Cox Communications should take this case all the way to the US Supreme Court.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @09:18AM (#51526699)

      I'm guessing this is a lot of MPAA doing judge shopping. Cox's hq is Atlanta, so why is this lawsuit in VA with the one judge who is exvesssively in the pockets of the mpaa?

    • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @09:30AM (#51526745)

      "Cox Communications should take this case all the way to the US Supreme Court."

      Which is now no longer majority controlled by the Oil & Pharma Party, but by appointees of the Hollywood & Lawyer Party. Good luck with that.

      • One of the reasons I'm very sorry to see Scalia go. He would laugh this crap right out of the courtroom.

        • I can just imagine the Scalia response to this: "No amount of legal fuckery-duckery entitles the MPAA to forcibly deputize ISPs, at their own expense, into a copyright law enforcement agency with powers well beyond what the actual police exercise under the Constitution."

      • by FatdogHaiku ( 978357 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @10:32AM (#51527087)

        "Cox Communications should take this case all the way to the US Supreme Court."

        Which is now no longer majority controlled by the Oil & Pharma Party, but by appointees of the Hollywood & Lawyer Party. Good luck with that.

        That's a pity. An Oil & Pharma Party sounds like more fun than the other one...

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Yeah, but this would've been an all-Cox big oil and pharma party, so it would only appeal to a certain crowd.
    • I thought the DMCA gave ISPs safe harbor protection? That is not in effect anymore?

      • by elvesrus ( 71218 )

        Said judge revoked their safe harbor

        https://torrentfreak.com/cox-h... [torrentfreak.com]

      • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @12:12PM (#51527765)

        Safe harbors are only in effect if the ISPs comply with various terms, which include terminating service for repeat offenders...based on complaints from rights holders that come without any form of due process. Understandably, Cox isn't pleased with that notion, since it means that a private third-party effectively has the ability to force Cox to drop any of its customers, merely by complaining a handful of times.

        The problem is that the ISPs don't want to be reclassified under Title II, which would protect them from these sorts of issues, but would also relegate them to being nothing more than dumb pipes. They want to have their cake and eat it too, but that means being open to being sued for not properly policing the content of their pipes.

        • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
          I was under the understanding that the FCC just recently classified all cable ISPs under Title II. Or has that not yet taken effect?
          • If they had, I've heard nothing of it. What I have heard about is the FCC enforcing various net neutrality regulations. A few years ago, the ISPs (Verizon specifically, IIRC) argued that the new regulations couldn't be applied to them since they weren't Title II entities. The courts agreed with Verizon and said that if the FCC wanted to regulate the ISPs that way, the FCC would first need to reclassify the ISPs under Title II. Since doing so wasn't politically feasible, the FCC instead changed the regulatio

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ISPs provide paths for information to travel on. No one goes after road builders/maintainers when someone uses a car to rob a bank. Simple as that. There is no real difference here.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Ahh but the government does provide cops to sit on that highway and patrol it, and CCTV cameras to monitor it. So perhaps, running with your analogy, eventually the government itself will decide that it has every right to perform deep packet inspection on every and any ISP and ISPs will be forced to comply. In a way this is how it should be - because it's not up to a private company to enforce laws on behalf of the government. On the other hand, if the government is not already doing this it would give them
      • by GrumpySteen ( 1250194 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @08:46AM (#51526587)

        Your analogy doesn't work. Deep packet inspection would be like the highway patrol being allowed to pull over every car on the road without a warrant or reasonable suspicion in order to inspect everything in the trunk on the off chance that they might find something illegal.

    • by pr0t0 ( 216378 )

      It is different, but only because the DMCA says so.

      Title II states the ISP's cannot be held liable for a wide range of copyright infringement happening by their customers if the ISP meets certain criteria. Among that criteria is the ISP has to provide a person who can be notified when infringing material is found, and respond expeditiously to stop the flow of that content, or remove it in the case of temporary storage within the network.

      I think where it gets tricky is the ISP has to respond if they have or

  • by sabbede ( 2678435 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @08:10AM (#51526441)
    Shouldn't they be too busy doing wrong to get around to doing what's right?
    • by DivineKnight ( 3763507 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @08:18AM (#51526471)

      Perhaps they've reviewed the legal ramifications of losing common carrier status, and have decided, from a fiscal standpoint, that it's their morally corporate duty to maintain such status for as long as reasonably possible.

    • I've had 5 cable internet services over 2 decades (and 2 DSL). Cox (my current provider) is the second best I've had. Best was MediaOne (my first provider) - they rolled out speed increases without price increases as they upgraded their network and improved capacity. But then they got bought by RoadRunner/TWC.

      Cox has done similar things (doubled my bandwidth for free as a planned upgrade last year). I only take them down a notch because they participate in the despicable marketing practice of adverti
      • My parents had RR back in the early days of cable ISPs. Somehow, it wasn't until just before I left for college that they did, so I never had much experience with them. I have Charter now, and they're pretty honest and straightforward. No caps either. I had Comcast at my last place, they were not honest or straightforward. I asked them when I signed up if there was a cap, they said no. A few months later I got the "great news" that the cap was being raised from 250 to 300 GB/mo. I was infuriated, and
  • by bkr1_2k ( 237627 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @08:24AM (#51526491)

    I don't know who to root for. Cox, like most cable companies, is evil incarnate but here they are doing good against an arguably "more evil" megacorp. I'm in a quandary.

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      What horribly things has COX done exactly? They have been my provider in a number of cases and as far as I can tell all they ever did was offer reasonable quality service (industry leading by some measures) at competitive prices.

      In my personal experience their customer service was never nearly as painful as the other cable companies I have had the misfortune of dealing with. Cox never forced upgrades the way COMCRAP does, and let me continue using my old modem rather than renting one from them, etc.

      As muc

    • I worked for them for 9 months in IT as a sysadmin (left for an unexpected opportunity) - the culture from an employee perspective was actually really nice. A "de-stress" room with dim lights, wall-mounted continuous waterfall, and divans / recliners for naps whenever you wanted; free beverage bar (non-alcoholic); fun management staff who were not over-the-shoulder types. Of course, I wasn't there long enough to get a fully-informed insiders opinion on every facet of the business, but I can say that I went
  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @08:37AM (#51526549) Homepage Journal
    I have noticed that Comcast in the DC area has done the opposite: they are now doing DPI to detect BitTorrent downloads of copyrighted materials and using HTML/ HTTP injections to serve notices.
    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      using HTML/ HTTP injections to serve notices.

      Comcast did this to me to hint that I needed to upgrade my cable modem - in order to better be able to upsell me on Xfinity. It got so annoying after a while that I finally did upgrade, but thats all I did.

      And in all fairness to comcast, it only required a less than 10 minutes phone call with their tech support in order to get my new modem connected. No physical appointment needed.

      • The notices they are sending in this case are copyright infringement notices.
      • How long ago was this? I have Cox and purchased a new cable modem this past December after my old one died. I was able to plug it in and register the new modem online. (https://www.cox.com/resaccount/self-activation-sign-in.cox)

    • Re:Comcast in DC (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @09:39AM (#51526789)
      Cox customer... I had to set Transmission (my bittorrent app) to use a random port a few months ago because Cox blocked the default port.
    • I have noticed that Comcast in the DC area has done the opposite: they are now doing DPI to detect BitTorrent downloads of copyrighted materials and using HTML/ HTTP injections to serve notices.

      Scary stuff. Would forcing your torrent client to transmit with encryption prevent Comcast from finding out what you're doing?

  • What! Two positive stories on Slashdot in one day? First Apple stands up to the FBI, and now this! It must be opposite day!
  • As long as they give Bieber and Kayne a voice, we should be getting money from them and we take that by downloading stuff.

  • All of the ISPs should get together and refuse to provide cell phone, home or business internet service to the **IAA, its member companies, their employees and outside lawyers.

    Enjoy your landline and starbucks wifi.

    • I remember a guy who blamed the NSA for him defrauding all the other shareholders. "Qwest is doing great, but just ignore the fact that I'm selling tens of millions of dollars in stock just before everything tanks!" Any executive in a company who sells stock while still working there needs to be investigated very thoroughly, especially if that company subsequently tanks without warning. Qwest, if you recall, had to restate BILLIONS [nytimes.com] in sales (there are more links if you care to search).
  • This really helps soften the blow whenever they raise the rates on my internet.

  • The ultimate Cox block.

  • But maybe some are a little less evil than others...
  • But what is Cox actually DOING? We'll never know.

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