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Feds Bust Cable Modem Hacker

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the grey-area dept.

Hardware Hacking 658

Several readers noted the indictment of hardware hacker Ryan Harris, known as DerEngel. Harris wrote the 2006 book Hacking the Cable Modem, explaining how to get upgraded speed or even free Internet service by bypassing the firmware locks on Motorola Surfboard modems. He has run a profitable business at tcniso.net since 2003, selling unlocked cable modems. (The site is now offline.) Harris has been charged with conspiracy, aiding and abetting computer intrusion, and wire fraud. Wired quotes Harris's reaction: "I read the indictment — it's complete bull****. I'll tell you right now I'm not going to plead guilty."

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658 comments

fp (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29959694)

first post!!!

Re:fp (2, Funny)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959718)

Be careful, you could be charged with "conspiracy, aiding and abetting computer intrusion, and wire fraud."

Niggerdick (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29960064)

nigger, nigger on the wall... who is the blackest one of all? you wish you may, you wish you might .. have all the black dick you can eat tonight!

Re:fp (-1, Redundant)

pookemon (909195) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959726)

Yeah - wow - I'm so impressed.

Or am I?

Nope - I was wrong, I'm not.

I wish I saw this earlier (2, Funny)

areusche (1297613) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959708)

This information is really useful. He should have known better to post that everything he is doing is for "education purposes only" sadly.

Re:I wish I saw this earlier (5, Informative)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959934)

That might have worked, if he wasn't actually selling the hacked modems.

Re:I wish I saw this earlier (5, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960218)

He says that the telcos bought some of his hacked modems to use as test/diagnostic equipment. If he has invoices and receipts, then he may have a legit defense.

Why would they (service personnel) want hacked modems? Maybe to be able to alter the MAC on the test machine at will to clone a client's modesm's MAC address so they can determine that the clients' modems' MAC address is routable from the customer's location, and that maybe the clients' modem is defective after all ...

Re:I wish I saw this earlier (1)

jspiro (1093483) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960172)

Or posted it to Geocities in Hollywood, where it wouldn't be taken seriously by anyone.

WOW!!! The Feds must be really working overtime! (5, Funny)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959734)

Now when are they going to get around to catching Osama?

Re:WOW!!! The Feds must be really working overtime (5, Funny)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959794)

Probably as soon as he tries to steal broadband lol. That or if he changes his name to Osama Bin Hackin.

Re:WOW!!! The Feds must be really working overtime (5, Insightful)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959914)

Who cares? The powers our government have assumed for themselves in the name of "fighting the War on Terrorism" won't be given up even if they catch "Terrorist #1" Osama.

Osama is more useful to power-hungry US politicians when he is free to roam than dead or captured.

Re:WOW!!! The Feds must be really working overtime (4, Insightful)

J_Omega (709711) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960330)

Emmanuel Goldstein would agree

Re:WOW!!! The Feds must be really working overtime (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29960028)

Is it sad that I thought he wrote Obama? Is it sadder that I didn't think he was being sarcastic?

What!? (3, Insightful)

sam0737 (648914) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959748)

I didn't RTFA. If I read the summary right, ya may be he can be charged with DMCA, Copyright violation or those stuff .But "conspiracy, aiding and abetting computer intrusion, and wire fraud"? WTF is that!

It's like charging gunmaker with murder.

Re:What!? (1, Insightful)

XDirtypunkX (1290358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959828)

This is slightly different; if the hacks allowed you to get free internet or video access off the cable (for instance) you're defrauding the cable provider by getting their service for free.

Re:What!? (4, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959872)

The act of defrauding the cable provider is illegal but the instructions for the hack that may or may not allow this type of fraud apparently has legal uses as well. Tools are neither good nor evil, the manner in which you use them is what determines the ethics of using those tools. A shovel can help plant a garden and it can also be used for murder, that doesn't mean the shovel is evil, just the use of the shovel for evil purposes.

Re:What!? (4, Insightful)

XDirtypunkX (1290358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959928)

Yes, but if you provide the tools while actively enabling and encouraging people, then you are aiding and abetting, which is what he was charged with.

Re:What!? (2, Insightful)

ImYourVirus (1443523) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959972)

That's like saying a gun store selling bullets is aiding and abetting, give me a break. Next dvd burners will be aiding and abetting...

Re:What!? (3, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960074)

Selling bullets is one thing, selling bullets knowing that it'll end up being used to murder someone specific is quite another. The problem is that it may be difficult to prove the equivalent here. *disclaimer I'm only explaining what I think the GP's position is in regards to aiding and abetting*

Re:What!? (2, Interesting)

bonhomme_de_neige (711691) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960174)

Selling bullets is one thing, selling bullets knowing that it'll end up being used to murder someone specific is quite another.

So if I am a gun store owner, and I believe someone is going to murder someone, is it illegal for me to sell them bullets? If someone later (after the murder) can show that I knew about the murderer's intention and I sold the bullets anyway, can I be sent to prison?

Honest question - I genuinely want to know.

Re:What!? (4, Insightful)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960234)

If they can prove beyond reasonable doubt that you sold bullets and a gun to a person you believed was going to use them to kill someone, then yes, you could be charged with a crime.

Since there are so many legitimate uses for guns, and the gun lobby is so powerful, and it's nearly impossible to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you thought whoever you were selling a gun to was going to use it for non-illegal means, it's very unlikely for this to happen.

Re:What!? (1)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960256)

sorry, I wanted to say either non-legal or illegal, and ended up combining them both to make utter nonsense of that statement^

Re:What!? (3, Funny)

Firehed (942385) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960240)

You'd probably be charged with something (and reasonably so, in my opinion), though it may vary by jurisdiction. Aiding and abetting, being an accomplice, some sort of failure to inform the police, recklessness, probably plenty of other things. IANAL - but it would seem to fall along the lines of the bartender getting charged (or at least sued) in relation to a drunk driving death for not cutting the driver off or calling a cab for him.

Why, do you own a gun store? More importantly, am I the target?

Re:What!? (2, Insightful)

XDirtypunkX (1290358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960252)

Depending on the jurisdiction and if that person did murder someone or not, you may actually be guilty of Negligent Homicide.

Re:What!? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960274)

I believe the standard is that if you should reasonably know that a crime will be committed then you would have a legal responsibility not to sell the materials in question. That is something that is to my knowledge fairly hard to prove in court. However, I'm not a lawyer, I'm not an authoritative source on the matter so it would be great for some actual lawyers on /. to comment on the matter.

Re:What!? (3, Informative)

tftp (111690) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960376)

So if I am a gun store owner, and I believe someone is going to murder someone, is it illegal for me to sell them bullets?

IANAL, but your belief alone requires you to do something to prevent the murder. Practically, you should call police and give them the facts. As I understand, it is illegal to know about the future crime and keep that knowledge to yourself.

In other words, if the customer says "Ten 9mm rounds, please, I need to accidentally kill my business partner" you certainly shouldn't sell him what he asks for, even if he is joking. Considering the venue, you may well be expected to do a citizen's arrest (many gun store clerks are armed.)

If someone later (after the murder) can show that I knew about the murderer's intention and I sold the bullets anyway, can I be sent to prison?

Most definitely, IMO, as an accomplice. There was a recent case (a week ago) when, IIRC, three street thugs conspired to kill someone; one obtained the gun, another fired it, and third disposed of the weapon. All three got prison terms.

Re:What!? (1)

tibman (623933) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960154)

If the bullets were designed to defeat police body armor.. the intended purpose of the bullets would be clear. Unless they were purchased by the police, with the intention of using it against other armored citizens.

If he was selling normal cable modems there wouldn't be a problem. But by selling cable modems designed to defeat an ISP's security mechanism... he actively helped. Maybe if he only sold to tech support groups or something?

Re:What!? (5, Informative)

rhook (943951) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960254)

This may come as a shocker but the body armor police use wont stop most rifle rounds. "Cop Killer" bullets are a myth.

Re:What!? (2, Insightful)

XDirtypunkX (1290358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960200)

Selling bullets is not aiding and abetting. Selling bullets with a handy guide on murdering your neighbor thrown in is.

Quite simple really.

Re:What!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29960290)

You must have missed the "while actively enabling and encouraging" part.

Re:What!? (1)

ImYourVirus (1443523) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959994)

Also news at 6 google.com arrested for providing means for doing anything illegal, from making bombs, to growing your own drugs...

Re:What!? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960008)

The question is: did he actually do that? It looks like the forums were most of the reason why he was charged the way he was.

Re:What!? (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960012)

According to that logic, by selling a textbook on how to use a soldering iron, the book companies are "aiding and abetting" all sorts of things.

Please.

Re:What!? (1, Troll)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960194)

Wow, over-generalize to try to sound smarter much?

You seriously don't see any difference between instructions on how to use a tool and instructions on what you need to do to hack a cable modem and bypass speed restrictions? Really?

And you're acting snotty about it?! Wow, talk about being an idiot or a fool.

Re:What!? (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960224)

Instructions on how to use (or modify) a tool are instructions on how to use or modify a tool. Nothing more.

"Illegal" (e.g. not-street-legal) modifications to a car? Done for racing, confined to racing tracks, A-OK. Same thing taken to the street? Not ok. How about utilities that can help you repair your own X-box if it has a dead hard drive? Also plausibly able to "softmod" it, but repairing your own things is a legit use. Should it be illegal?

Criminalizing the dissemination of information is ridiculous no matter what.

Re:What!? (4, Insightful)

chaboud (231590) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960304)

Criminalizing the dissemination of information is ridiculous no matter what.

BINGO! As soon as you peel back the line on this one, you open up a grey area of ridiculous criminalization. The modem itself, modified, is like a VCR, a gun, a car, or a goat. Sure, there are illegal things that you can do with all of them, and some of them are really best used for illegal purposes (hint... not the goat). Still, that shouldn't make the provision of these things illegal. It's information or a tool. It's intent agnostic.

Now, the instruction can indeed constitute participation in a crime, but telling someone to go do something is way different than telling someone how to go do something.

Example:

Hey, Joey, go kill that guy.

or

Hey, Joey, if you shoot someone in the face, they will probably die.

Re:What!? (1)

XDirtypunkX (1290358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960300)

Enabling and encouraging the illegal act. Soldering iron textbooks don't say "here's how you would construct the timer for a bomb, why not blow up your local library". The guy in this case may well have sent someone an email, posted on a forum or even had it on his website something as simple as "This hack is a great way to avoid paying the telcos your hard earned cash!".

They also probably have some kind of evidence that he did this, otherwise they wouldn't charge him.

Re:What!? (0)

schlick (73861) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960296)

From Wikipedia:
Where available, aiding and abetting liability generally requires three elements: 1) an underlying violation by a principal; 2) knowledge of that violation and/or the intent to facilitate the violation; and 3) assistance to the principal in the violation.

Who is the principal? IOW if he is "aiding and abetting" who are these people and what are they being charged with? Who are his co-conspirators?

Re:What!? (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960058)

What legal uses of his hacks are there exactly?

Re:What!? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960168)

TFA only mentions one; as a diagnostic tool. On a related note, if the FBI did indeed find a post by DerEngel (the modder in question) mentioning the MAC addresses then I think that he would be in a lot of trouble in court.

Re:What!? (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960170)

Providing information for whoever makes the hardware for the ISP.

Other than that, theres no really legal uses on information how to fraud ISP's to get free internet connection.

Re:What!? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960180)

One possible usage:

Ignoring an ISP's attempts to abusively throttle you if they detect torrent traffic going on.

Re:What!? (2, Informative)

dlgeek (1065796) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960348)

That's usually done at by routers at the IP level, not at the lower levels these things operate at.

Re:What!? (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959870)

It's called "padding the charges to try to force a plea deal", and it's one of the reasons our justice system is so fucked up.

Thousands of people plead guilty to shit they didn't do [post-gazette.com] each year, because they're offered the "reasonable" alternative - accept a jail sentence of X amount, OR get 5x the time and financially ruined and never be able to work again because they had the "temerity" to protest their innocence [concurringopinions.com] .

Welcome to America. "Justice" means jack shit here.

Re:What!? (5, Informative)

WilliamX (22300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960118)

A shoplifter is told that the court will look positively on his cooperation after being arested, and then is asked did he intend to steal the item(s) when he entered the store, or did he decide to steal them once inside the store.

He admits he went there to steal the item.

Petting theft just turned into Felony Commercial Burglary (Burglary being defined in California Penal Code as entering a premises with the intent to commit larceny).

Will it get pled down? Now he HAS to plea it down and take whatever they offer to avoid a felony record.

Saw this exact scenario play out when a college student was busted stealing a $20 CD.

Re:What!? (5, Informative)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960152)

And that's a great example of why you should never talk to the cops [youtube.com] . EVER. [youtube.com]

It's not their job to be fair. It's their job to get you to say something incriminating. Functionally, it's the cops' job to "aid and abet" the prosecutors' office in getting innocent people convicted.

Anyone who says different, is a clueless idealistic moron. You have the 5th amendment right to keep your mouth shut for a reason: NEVER say anything to the cops.

Re:What!? (2, Insightful)

WilliamX (22300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960176)

"getting innocent people convicted"

The guy was not innocent.

He was guilty, just that the charge was overstated for the offense.

Keep things in perspective.

Re:What!? (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960238)

In your example, the guy was "guilty" - but not of the overblown charge they wanted.

In thousands of other cases, innocent people go to jail facing the "risk" of decades in prison when they can "plead down" to a few years that they shouldn't have to serve at all.

If the prosecutors offer a plea deal, in a just society, that's all the charges they would have to face, period. Not this "you can plead to this but if you don't we throw 100 more charges on top and one of them is sure to stick or else we just hold you in jail for 5 years holding separate state/federal/etc trials" bullcrap that they pull all the time.

Re:What!? (2, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960244)

He was innocent of what he was accused of. Being charged with a crime that the police and prosecutors know you did not commit is being charged with a crime that you are innocent of. Being guilty of a different or lessor crime does not change this. Police and prosecutors that charge people with crimes they know they did not commit are commiting crimes themselves.

Re:What!? (3, Insightful)

WilliamX (22300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960312)

No, technically he WAS guilty of the stated crime, he entered the premises with the intent to commit larceny.

It's not that they charge crimes that were not committed, its that the overcharge the level of the offense.

Huge difference.

Knowing filing charges they know the individual did no commit would lead to sanctions and disbarment.

Re:What!? (4, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960366)

He was innocent of what he was accused of. Being charged with a crime that the police and prosecutors know you did not commit is being charged with a crime that you are innocent of.

No, if he did in reality go there with the intention of stealing the $20 CD, in that state it would in fact be "Felony Commercial Burglary (Burglary being defined in California Penal Code as entering a premises with the intent to commit larceny)". The police simply dropped it to a smaller petty theft (at the same time making it stick without a costly court case) as it was indeed a $20 CD.

I am probably in a minority here, but I think the police acted in the right way, the person got what they should have gotten. The punishment for petty theft for committing petty theft.

Re:What!? (1)

WilliamX (22300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960380)

Go back, reread, and with some reading comprehension enabled =) The example you cite from my comment, the petty thief was charged with Felony Burglary, BECAUSE of his statement to police when questioned. Not petty theft.

Re:What!? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29960276)

The guy was not innocent.

He was guilty, just that the charge was overstated for the offense.

Keep things in perspective.

According to that logic, everybody is guilty. Keep things in perspective.

Re:What!? (2, Informative)

No Eye Deer (1377323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960284)

Isn't he supposed to be "innocent until proven guilty" under American laws?

Re:What!? (1)

WilliamX (22300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960332)

In the context of having done the act, he is guilty of it whether the system found him guilty or not. But in the example noted, the person said "innocent people CONVICTED" meaning having been found guilty. Either way, presumption of innocence isn't the point here.

Re:What!? (2, Informative)

Xiterion (809456) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960294)

You certainly have a funny concept of not guilty of a felony then. It's an unfortunate side effect of our justice system where in order to keep freedoms you might want you have to defend the semi-bastards, such as the guy described by the GP. A $20 cd does not deserve a felony.

Re:What!? (2, Informative)

WilliamX (22300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960354)

Thanks for agreeing with me.

While he was certainly GUILTY of the felony, it was a blatant overcharge of the level of the crime (provided he didn't have priors).

Just because he is guilty of it, doesn't mean the charge fit the crime. And being charged with something over the level of the crime doesn't make the person "innocent." They are still guilty, just they deserve a punishment that fits the crime better.

Re:What!? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29960156)

One should keep their mouth shut until they have an attorney. In addition, don't steal.

Re:What!? (3, Interesting)

gordguide (307383) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960268)

I've always been struck by the system of justice in the US where, if you plead guilty, you "save the state the cost of a trial".

In most countries where the law is based on English Common Law (Canada, UK, Australia, etc) there is always a trial, to establish the facts of the case, to establish the exact culpability of the accused, to determine the extenuating circumstances. There is always a pre-sentence report, often a psychological assessment, etc. There is no procedural difference between a case where the defendant pleads guilty and where he pleads not guilty, and the defendant can change his plea at almost any stage of the trial. Occasionally, a judge will refuse to accept a Guilty plea from the defendant, insisting he wait until the evidence has been presented.

There are no misdemeanor options to fall back on; everything is the equivalent of a felony (precisely, they are all Criminal convictions, which the US considers equivalent to Felony convictions when assessing the seriousness of a record for a potential visitor, immigrant, etc). A conviction of the charge of theft of a single CD is a Criminal Code conviction; there are no other options.

The only times when you can plead guilty and avoid a trial is when the charge truly is a misdemeanor; eg traffic court.

This eliminates the incentive to create a system of law as exists in the US, with one or more applicable charges that carry huge penalties, along with a cascade of ever lesser charges and classes of charges, with corresponding lesser maximum penalties, which are then used (as you point out) to elicit guilty pleas.

It also insures that you have an opportunity to defend yourself without onerous implications should you not prevail, for whatever reason.

The truly innocent are placed in a very difficult position under the standard practices of US law (and standard procedures of prosecutors to elicit convictions).

Re:What!? (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960370)

Are prisons ever privately run in Commonwealth countries? We have such a high incentive here to keep people locked up and to increase "business opportunities" that it isn't too surprising to me that tactics like this get used here, but your post made me wonder if other countries handle who actually runs some prisons differently as well.

Re:What!? (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960372)

In a system like that, why would anyone ever plead guilty? There doesn't seem to be an advantage to the defendant to do so.

Re:What!? (5, Interesting)

NeumannCons (798322) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960010)

I did RTFA. His biggest misstep that brought attention to his actions was running a company that sold uncapped and hardware modded modems. He sold a couple to undercover feds. That was a Bad Idea. Selling hacked equipment that is designed to overcome preset bandwidth limits or provide unauthorized (free) service by cloning mac addresses of other authorized modems seems like "aiding and abetting". Running uncapped modems on Comcast's network would also seem like wire fraud (fraudulent activity involving electronic equipemnt) to me.

Comcast owns their network and sells you access based on bandwidth. More bandwidth costs more. If you find a way to circumvent their bandwidth limits, you are breaking your agreement with them (as well as violating the DMCA). Modding your own cable modem and running it on your own cable network is ok. Running it on someone elses is not.

Hacking to gain knowledge/enlightenment is one thing. Using that knowledge to steal service is uncool.

Re:What!? (4, Interesting)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960158)

What intrigues me is the fact that cable co's are trusting END USER EQUIPMENT to enforce limits that should be imposed at their own network ingress.

Besides, what if someone creates a DOCSIS compliant device of their own and hooks it up to the cable network? Considering how eager companies are to pounce for it, you're almost certain to run afoul of a few patents in the process, but you're clear in copyright, and hence immune to the DMCA as well, since the only copyright involved would be your own.

Knowingly and willfully taking more bandwidth than you've paid for is fraud and should be treated as such. Everything else is bullshit.

Welcome to the DMCA (3, Interesting)

MaerD (954222) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959754)

Welcome to the DMCA, the same nonsense that blocks you from selling mod chips. Did you really expect to "circumvent" the locks that cable companies put in place and nothing was going to happen?

This is why we've been complaining about the DMCA since '98, and why Alan Cox won't set foot in this country. Heck, I'm suprised it's legal to hook up our own equipment to the cable networks at all. Did you get that PC from comcast? No?

Re:Welcome to the DMCA (5, Insightful)

MobileC (83699) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960050)

What has the DMCA got to do with this case?

Theft of Services (2, Informative)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960208)

Did you really expect to "circumvent" the locks that cable companies put in place and nothing was going to happen?

Did you expect your cable TV and Internet service to be free before the DMCA?

  165.15 Theft of services.
A person is guilty of theft of services when:


  4. With intent to avoid payment by himself or another person of the lawful charge for any telecommunications service, including, without
    limitation, cable television service, ...., telegraph or telephone service which is provided for a charge or compensation, he obtains or attempts to obtain such service for himself or another person or avoids or attempts to avoid payment therefor by himself or another person by means of (a) tampering or making connection with the equipment of the supplier, whether by mechanical, electrical, acoustical or other means, or (b) offering for sale or otherwise making available, to anyone other than the provider of a telecommunications service for such service provider's own use in the provision of its service, any telecommunications decoder or descrambler, a principal function of which defeats a mechanism of electronic signal encryption, jamming or individually addressed switching imposed by the provider of any such telecommunications service to restrict the delivery
    of such service,----


New York Penal Law Section 165.15 - Theft Of Services. [onecle.com]

Last revised July 30, 2006.

Selling descramblers will take you into Class E felony territory. Three or four years hard time.

Theft of Services in New York state has a much broader reach than I can suggest here.

That sucks, sort of. (2, Insightful)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959788)

After reading the article (yeah, I'm new here), he was selling modems and it appears he wasn't moderating the forums properly. People were discussing how to steal other people's connections on their forums.

Re:That sucks, sort of. (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959834)

yeah, I'm new here

Slashdot UID 922869. Fibber ;).

Re:That sucks, sort of. (1)

hpycmprok (219527) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959948)

No really, he is new here.

Re:That sucks, sort of. (1)

simoncpu was here (1601629) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960260)

Where is that guy who instantly appear out of nowhere and declare "No, I'm New Here"?

Re:That sucks, sort of. (3, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959844)

So failing to "properly moderate" your forums is a criminal offense now?

Even slashdot has anonymous cowards, and I doubt they'd delete posts discussing such matters, unless ordered to (by DMCA letter or similar), even if the score was -1, same difference....

It's NOT like arresting gun sellers! (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959806)

Gun sellers have powerful lobbyists on their payroll guaranteeing that the government will not interfere with their profits.

Re:It's NOT like arresting gun sellers! (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959848)

As long as people keep on wanting to kill each other, they've got a significantly more powerful force than lobbyists on their side. It's called human nature.

Yes, I do own a gun.

Re:It's NOT like arresting gun sellers! (5, Insightful)

BeansBaxter (918704) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959852)

Not to mention the second amendment. Its kind of part of the bill of rights.

Re:It's NOT like arresting gun sellers! (5, Insightful)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960078)

Not to mention the second amendment. Its kind of part of the bill of rights.

If you look at the role of guns in the formation of the US as a democracy, you might see that computers are the modern-day equivalent.

Re:It's NOT like arresting gun sellers! (2, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960192)

The second amendment is largely protected because there are enough people defending the amendment to make it meaningful. If there weren't, then I'd say that the second amendment would be just about where the tenth is now: discarded as being "inconvenient."

Re:It's NOT like arresting gun sellers! (3, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959924)

I was about to retort saying it's like arresting marijuana dealers.

But then after a bit of thinking.. I realized... they too have powerful lobbyists on their payroll guaranteeing the government will not interfere with their profits.

In this case, lobbying to keep it illegal. (Making it legal interferes with their profits, since it reduces the price, and makes it easier for new competitors to emerge)

Re:It's NOT like arresting gun sellers! (5, Funny)

gatekeep (122108) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959930)

Also, they have guns.

Re:It's NOT like arresting gun sellers! (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960102)

Gun sellers also have extremely specific laws they have to follow or the face jail time for not filling out paperwork.... but following that paperwork limits their liability for the gun owner's actions AFTER the sale.

Re:It's NOT like arresting gun sellers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29960126)

What the hell lunacy is this post? Ever hear of the second amendment? The one that protects the first amendment and the other ones in the bill of rights?

You read about the guy who manufactured his own .50 cal rifle, got harassed by the btfa who also got him on creative charges?

Prosecution haggling? (2, Interesting)

vikstar (615372) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959826)

"They’re filling in their own blanks."

Is this a way to haggle up the punishment? Make the defense spend valuable time worrying about completely bogus prosecution claims, and it might neglect other more legitimate claims.

Re:Prosecution haggling? (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959984)

No, it's called "padding the charges to force a plea deal."

They say "well we COULD charge you with xyzqelsoerjninn but instead, we'll let you 'plead out to just xyz with reduced time'" and they're hoping to get a conviction off of it.

Not to mention this is federal court, so chances are the judge is on someone's (hollywierd, cable cartel, etc) payroll on the side.

Thousands of innocent people "plead guilty" thanks to this shit every year.

Oh, really? (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959892)

"I'll tell you right now I'm not going to plead guilty."

Guilty plea in 3...2...1...

(shouldn't take long after the prosecution makes suggestions about the average casualty rate of white collar criminals in serious prisons, and suggests a guilty plea in exchange for an easier prison)

Re:Oh, really? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29959932)

The most they would do is put him for a few months into a white-collar, minimum-security resort. You know, they have conjugal visits there?

Re:Oh, really? (2, Funny)

mweather (1089505) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960056)

The most they would do is put him for a few months into a white-collar, minimum-security resort. You know, they have conjugal visits there?

Conjugal visits? Mmmm. Not that I know of. Y'know, minimum-security prison is no picnic. I have a client in there right now. He says the trick is: kick someone's ass the first day, or become someone's bitch. Then everything will be all right.

It's assholes like you giving bad advice (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29960382)

that make American prisons hell holes that would shame a 3rd world country.

I wouldn't be surprised if following your advice is a quick way to get killed, and deserve it too. You don't know who has friends when you walk in, do you? Or who is badder than they look.

This is not a crime (0)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959896)

This is one time the law and its application are way out of line. That's equipment you pay for and service you pay for. It's not even in the same category as stealing cable or utilities. I understand the arguments from cable company and device makers but if their system is so primitive it can borked at the point of contact with the customer, then where's their accountability?

If we had completely eliminated any other crime and this is what we were down to enforcing, I'd still think it was bull****. As it is, when we have thieves in suits on Wall Street bleeding us dry like giant money-sucking leaches, contractors in war zones raping their employees and getting our soldiers killed, terrorists trying to infiltrate our borders and THIS is what federal prosecutors are doing with their time? Some joker modifying cable modems. You gotta be f'ing kidding me.

That takes it out of the realm of mere bull**** and puts in the realm of critical mass galactic mega-bull****.

Re:This is not a crime (4, Insightful)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960094)

As it is, when we have thieves in suits on Wall Street bleeding us dry like giant money-sucking leaches, contractors in war zones raping their employees and getting our soldiers killed, terrorists trying to infiltrate our borders and THIS is what federal prosecutors are doing with their time? Some joker modifying cable modems. You gotta be f'ing kidding me.

What makes you think that the government is only targeting these cases and completely ignoring the others you mentioned?

Re:This is not a crime (3, Insightful)

mikeken (907710) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960098)

I never really understand the argument where there are more important things for such and such to be doing. There what tens of thousands of federal prosecutors in this country? More workers than work if you ask me... hmm... sounds like an economical fact.

Re:This is not a crime (2, Insightful)

WilliamX (22300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960144)

Modifying equipment to get a higher level of service than was paid for is, in fact, stealing. Morally and legally.

And the argument that just because (fill in the blank) is going on and is much more serious, we shouldn't prosecuted lesser crimes...well, that's not exactly logical or desirable either.

Take the shoplifter I mentioned earlier, just because we have bank robberies going on, does that mean police shouldn't arrest shoplifters? If it was my music store, I'd sure as hell be angry and raising hell at City Hall if the local police said that to me.

Now, do I think they should trick them into incriminating themselves for more serious charges just to pad felony arrest numbers?

Absolutely not.

Re:This is not a crime (1, Interesting)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960222)

Car analogy.

You have a car. This car's CPU has been programmed to fit a certain performance profile. Namely, of a cheap econo-car. The maker also comes out with a 'sport' version with no 'underclocking' of the engine, giving it the illusion of having better hardware than the vanilla model. Is it REALLY stealing if you remove that underclocking programming from your own car? Of course the car company wants their shoddy business model to be protected artificially.

Utility analogy.

The water company installs a small pipe to your house. About the size of your navel. Of course, they had to seriously downgrade pipe sizes from their main connection to your house. You go in and install pipes of your own that match the main outlet. Of course the water company doesn't like it, since they would have charged you thousands to do it. Is that stealing, because you did it yourself?

Really? Shoplifting? This stuff is as much of a crime as it is to refill your water bottle out of some company's water fountain they have in their lobby.

Re:This is not a crime (3, Insightful)

WilliamX (22300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960320)

Completely irrelevant examples. The car was capable of it, and you are not stealing anything by modifying it. This is so obviously not on point, it is almost silly. Utility example is the same. As long as you are paying for what you use, there is no stealing of water resulting from you doing your own work. You really need to stay on point.

Re:This is not a crime (2, Insightful)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960148)

This IS a crime. It's defrauding the cable company by telling the CMTS to let you online when it shouldn't. I'm surprised it took this long to find him, TBH.

I can compromise an ATM machine with a crowbar, does that make ATMs open targets? No.

Re:This is not a crime (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960336)

I can compromise an ATM machine with a crowbar

No you can't ... but you used to be able to compromise an ATM with nothing more than a 3x5 index card and a 25-cent plastic comb.

  1. Thieves would fold the 3x5 card in half like a small folder, and shove it in the money slot, with the fold towards the outside.
  2. People would try to withdraw money, but the money would collect inside the "folder". People assume the machine is defective, and go elsewhere.
  3. PROFIT: Thief uses plastic comb to tease out the 3x5 card, now stuffed with victims' money

One of my friends fell victim to a similar scam that uses adhesive tape (works *sometimes* since they fixed it so the "card trick" no longer works - the thief doesn't care if it mostly doesn't work and jams up the machine or doesn't successfully intercept the money - they just go to another machine).

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA (2, Insightful)

CHRONOSS2008 (1226498) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959942)

i buy it its mine if your going to put me in jail remember thats 40-60K a year to incarcerate and i guarantee you ill do this again and again.
AND i'll teach every damn criminal i can while in there MUHAHAHAHAHA
might just teach em more too
might as well everyone join the gangs after all WERE ALL CRIMINALS NOW

imagine if this shit were applied to cars trucks and lets say i dunno
harley davidsons OMG REVOLUTION

Re:HAHAHAHAHAHAHA (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960368)

AND i'll teach every damn criminal i can while in there MUHAHAHAHAHA

In Soviet Russia, prison teaches YOU!

Oh wait, that applies everywhere ...

Paperwork infraction (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29960122)

There are so many laws on the books, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who is not a criminal.

Not to be paranoid, but that's the way the man wants it. You are all guilty of something, so you can be rounded up, if they deem it necessary.

It sure would be a lot simpler if you just categorized crimes into various logical levels (rather than political levels) and meted out justice accordingly.

This case doesn't seem like much of a "real crime", more of a civil annoyance. Here is a first hack at the scale of "crimes":

Victimless crimes. (e.g. Drugs - if you have a problem, let's offer help, not expensive law enforcement and jail.)

civil annoyance - pay a fine (parking violations, let your dog crap on the sidewalk, etc.)

small, medium, large screw ups - crimes of opportunity, stupidity, and passion. Typically one-off crimes. Fines and jail sentences of varying lengths. Some hope of offenders seeing the error of their ways.

Bad People - this person needs to be put down, like a rabid animal. Purposeful injury of another. I don't care about the motive. If you fuck up someone else on purpose, we don't need you.

There should be no thought crimes. If you harm someone, let's put you down. I don't care if it was a "hate" crime or robbery for profit. If you are capable of that crime, I don't care why. If you have a sawed off shotgun that is 1" too short to be legal, what do I care? Not a crime. Use it on an innocent person, off with your head, just as if you had used a legal baseball bat.

Not criminal? Prove it. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29960166)

I looked over the article, and now I'm curious. The Slashdot crowd usually sides with the techie on incidents like this, but is it really justified here? The popular analogy here is that it's akin to charging gun manufacturers with murder. Guns have legitimate uses, such as hunting, or protection. What legitimate use does a modem hacked/modified to access an ISP's services without permission have? A better analogy here would be a gun manufacturer who sells a gun, a kit to turn the gun into an automatic weapon, and detailed instructions on how to get past the security of a specific bank. You can argue that the gun wasn't sold with the intent to facilitate a robbery, but you can't do it with a straight face.

Of course, I'm open-minded, so someone prove me wrong - tell me what legitimate uses these modified modems have. (Caveat: the use Harris suggested in the article won't fly, unless you can give some very good reasons as to why an ISP wouldn't simply use their own diagnostic gear.)

smart guy, good book, ISPs commit the real fraud (2, Interesting)

hyperion2010 (1587241) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960230)

I've been reading his book a little bit at a time, very interesting and informative. I don't really see how this is illegal unless you pull a DMCA on it since he is not defrauding anyone. The people he sells these to might be defrauding their ISP. Truth be told I'm more inclined to agree with the position that the real fraud here is the completely artificial pricing schemes and complete scam that is provisioning [not remotely based on the real (physical) limitations of the connection technology] enabled by regional monopolies and a virtual lack of competition in the ISP market.

Does anyone else remember LaMacchia? (2, Interesting)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960278)

If you look back to the old David LaMacchia case, the FBI tried to convict someone running a secretive FSP site on school computers of conspiracy and software theft. It was obvious he was guilty as sin at running a pirate software site, but because he received no money for it (merely stole school resources of bandwidth and computer time), they failed miserably to convict him.

This idiot, according to the FBI, asked on a bulletin board for the necessary MAC addresses for the Phoenix Arizona area. That was inviting illegal behavior. This is why I don't even make _jokes_ like that about pirating software or computer cracking: because I've explained to people how easy it is to do, I have to keep my nose clean lest someone testify against me.

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