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Aussie ISP Scans Downloads For Copyright Violation

Hemos posted about 13 years ago | from the your-data-is-not-safe dept.

Privacy 423

Steve Nakhla writes: "According to this article, Excite@Home has begun snooping users' downloads in order to find copyrighted or pirated material. Violators have their access cut off. As an Excite@home user, this alarms me. What exactly is their definition of copyrighted? Doesn't the New York Times copyright their online articles? Can I not view them any more for fear of violating Excite's policies?"

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Never thought anything would make AOL look good. (1, Troll)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | about 13 years ago | (#2209918)

Time to switch ISPs aussies.

Re:Never thought anything would make AOL look good (1, Flamebait)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | about 13 years ago | (#2209961)

I hate the new slashcode. Bring back my first post damnit!!!!

No afraid! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2210081)

P s e u d o f i r s t p o s t !

Feel the sensation!

The newest phemonemon on World Wide Web, PFP are sensation that is make mouth tingle! We are not to let lamers (ha! haha) like teh CmdrTaco take away the firsts posts. To first post! Is our right! And no one takes away out right!

SO teh first post in every story is to be awardde Award of Pseudofirst Posting, even though the post has not number "1".

So band together, friends! For the is sweeping the Internet! PFP, the new sensation!

-- The_Messenger [mailto]

encrypt! (1)

JasonVergo (101331) | about 13 years ago | (#2209919)

Encrypt all communications!

Re:encrypt! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2209965)

Not a bad plan at all. Personally, as my university has blocked Napster's port (among a couple other sharing programs), I ssh into a machine at my friend's school across the Internet2, run Gnapster with the OpenNap server of my choice, and scp it back home. Works like a charm, and nice n' speedy.

Re:encrypt! (1)

5foot2 (24971) | about 13 years ago | (#2210132)

How do you encrypt the 190 warez rar's of Office2k your pulling off of alt.binaries.warez.nt?

I guess hosting and usenet providers could provide this encryption as an extra service. $10 extra per month and you get an encrypted connection to airnews. Of course @home will then just stop all news traffic out of there network and limit it to there "Better" news servers.

I guess some underground activity is best kept underground.

I wonder if the Aussies have anything like the right to privacy in the US?

Trolling on Slashdot ? (-1, Troll)

sn0wdude (317116) | about 13 years ago | (#2209920)

Trolling on Slashdot ?

Let me first begin to state, that Trolls do not exist.
Yes correct, and I mean not even on

Someone people say is facing a crisis, with
all the trolling going on. It's even for some a fun game
to play. Both planting trolls, and also the anti-trolls
like the game. With replies showing up stating: 'Troll'.
It's like spotting Easter Eggs and saying "Great, I found another one.".

Even as most people don't seem to like good trolls, a lot of people
don't mind spotting/pointing out a troll, because I see a lot
of those replies. Second to that: good trolls, make a lot of replies.

If you don't like trolls, why bother to reply then ?
You know you're right and he or she isn't.

I think it's because;

Most people like discussing, if you don't like it than don't read
comments on Slashdot.

Responding to trolls, is basically the same
as responding to normal postings.

You either agree, or disagree with the content of a "normal" posting,
or a "troll" posting. With both postings you state why you agree/disagree
with his/her point.

Somehow we feel we need to reply to trolls. Or else most trolls would not
get any replies. Somehow we have this urge. Where does this come from ?

Because *you* cannot accept that someone else might have a completely different
point of view. And *you* have the urge to shove your opinion upon some troll,
so you get the false feeling that you did a good thing, and to justify your own

If someone says: 'Linux sucks, FreeBSD rocks'.
This person obviously doesn't know what he's talking about, so don't go
into discussion with him/her then. You don't try to discuss math with a 1
year old, do you ? So why reply to such bull.

Trolls don't exist, you create them yourself.

Re:Trolling on Slashdot ? (-1, Offtopic)

CmdrTaco on (468152) | about 13 years ago | (#2209978)

Cream o wheat. []

Boy, dem niggers sho are funny.

Re:Trolling on Slashdot ? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2209986)

Stupid moderator can't even read the FAQ:

"The FAQ states that comment shouldn't be rated based on whether the reader agrees with their content, but rather on their "presentation"."

So how come this post is getting '-1' ? Presentation is good. If you are a moderator go RTFM.

This post is copyrighted. (3, Funny)

exi7 (315026) | about 13 years ago | (#2209924)

Therefore, by reading it, you will be arrested. Expect your service to be terminated any second now.

(c) exi7, 2001. All rights reserved.

That means they'll pay people (5, Funny)

SpanishInquisition (127269) | about 13 years ago | (#2209929)

to watch the porn we download.

I want one of these jobs.

Re:That means they'll pay people (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2210007)

@Home guy talking on his cell phone to a friend:

"Yeah, I'm watching (insert porn title) for the 15th time today......
It just never gets old."

ways around this crap? (2, Interesting)

Alcimedes (398213) | about 13 years ago | (#2209931)

i have a quick question. would something like pgp work to stop this snooping garbage? just have the data encrypted when you send it to people, and then no one can snoop, right?

it would be a bit of a pain, but nothing too bad. ftp servers would just contain the key when you log in, and irc people could just have the key displayed every min. or so.

nosy bastards oughtta leave me and my data alone!

Re:ways around this crap? (1, Funny)

MadCow42 (243108) | about 13 years ago | (#2210080)

>> just have the data encrypted when you send it

And then you can prosecute them under the DMCA for "circumventing a protection device" if they manage to decode it anyways.

Laugh... it's funny. q:]


Re:ways around this crap? (2)

interiot (50685) | about 13 years ago | (#2210147)

You can only do that if you're transmitting data that's copyrighted by you via that channel. So perhaps if you upload your biography every time you download MP3's from an FTP site... they'll still be able to sue you, but you can sue them too, and be able to use their suit as evidence.

Re:ways around this crap? (1)

friscolr (124774) | about 13 years ago | (#2210136)

i have a quick question. would something like pgp work to stop this snooping garbage? just have the data encrypted when you send it to people, and then no one can snoop, right?

You mean sftp [] ?

as long as they cannot decrypt what you're sending, you're safe. i doubt Excite@home will also spend the money on a beowulf cluster to decrypt everything that's getting dl'd, but the RIAA might.

We should all be sending all packets encrypted anyways, using encrypted protocols, but oops, neither am i. I bet if we were encrypting everything then the big players would lobby for key escrow or similar so they could monitor everything.

On a side note, does this mean all the FBI has to do, to use Carnivore without a warrant, is to become an ISP?

Re:ways around this crap? (1)

serutan (259622) | about 13 years ago | (#2210167)

Encryption to prevent enforcement of copyright law probably violates the DCMA, soon to be adopted worldwide.

You have the right to remain silent. And that's about it.

Re:ways around this crap? (2)

kaisyain (15013) | about 13 years ago | (#2210173)

Yeah...right. All you have to do is convince everyone to start encrypting the data.

With the way PGP and IPSec have caught on like wildfire I imagine that'll happen any day now.

Good business strategy (2, Insightful)

MicroBerto (91055) | about 13 years ago | (#2209935)

Isn't this company in financial trouble? That sounds like a great way to make more money! Spend it on extra employment while cutting your customer base at the same time!

Re:Good business strategy (1)

Alcimedes (398213) | about 13 years ago | (#2209968)

lol, yeah, i think you might have just figured out why they're in trouble financially. :P

you don't expect a company that does dumbass stuff like this to survive, do you? these are market forces at their best. only the strong or the worthy survive baby!

Uncle Remus sho likes his syrup! (-1, Troll)

CmdrTaco on (468152) | about 13 years ago | (#2209947)

Just ask him! []

How is this different from a wiretap? (5, Insightful)

KosovoYankee (310988) | about 13 years ago | (#2209949)

If Ma Bell was listening to my phone calls to see if I was committing a crime, I would simply get 2 cans and an extremely long string. There is no way this can be defended ethically: Because they provide you with a service, as a corporation, they can legally observe and log every detail of enery task you use the service to complete? While a nation's highways may belong to the federal government, they still need probable cause to stop you and "observe" what you have under the seat of your car, or in the trunk. This complete circumvention of probably cause is ludicrous. As stated above: Imagine if the phone company did this!

Re:Imagine if I could spell! (0, Offtopic)

KosovoYankee (310988) | about 13 years ago | (#2209971)



Re:How is this different from a wiretap? (1)

Osiris Ani (230116) | about 13 years ago | (#2210130)

There is no way this can be defended ethically: Because they provide you with a service, as a corporation, they can legally observe and log every detail of enery task you use the service to complete?

Ethics has little place in this particular issue. This should really be a debate on the legality of such things, and as the stipulations of their Acceptable Use Policy clearly define that they can and will enact such periodic snooping on their customers, they're fully within their rights to do exactly that.

Quite simply, if you don't like it, then don't use it.

This just goes to show yet again that people really should thoroughly read their EULAs and AUPs before they agree to the terms by using the service/software/etc.. Ignorance of whichever legal rights you have agreed to waive is simply no excuse to bitch about it after the fact.

Who cares? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2209952)

They are going out of business anyway.

I would provide a link to the story (in case you missed it) but "search is down" at the moment.

Slashdot is dead! Long live slashdot!

i wouldnt worry (0)

n3r0.m4dski11z (447312) | about 13 years ago | (#2209954)

didn't excite@home go under?
here in toronto, ive heard the same things happening to rogers@home. but its just an unsubstantiated rumour so....

Not all of @Home (3, Informative)

alanjstr (131045) | about 13 years ago | (#2209955)

The article says that this is Optus@Home, in Australia.

Re:Not all of @Home (2)

interiot (50685) | about 13 years ago | (#2210115)

You're partially right. [] :

  • Excite@Home Australia was formed in June 1999 through the joint venture of leading US broadband service provider, At Home Corporation and Australian integrated communications company, Cable & Wireless Optus.

  • Working closely with Cable & Wireless Optus, Excite@Home Australia delivers Optus@Home, the high-speed cable Internet service.

I'm still scared though... certainly the main Excite@Home company had to agree to do this sort of thing. Which means that they're perfectly willing to do it, depending on the legal climate.

Rights of the People (2, Insightful)

NitsujTPU (19263) | about 13 years ago | (#2209958)

What ever happened to the rights of the people coming before the rights of companies? Has government become so weak that they cannot protect a company from being crushed by another because of those who use its services? Have companies become so much more powerful than the gorvernment that the word of the the people cannot be heard? Have the minds of the masses been so poisoned with anti-government claptrap that they cannot see that the government can set them free rather than imprison them?

More Below (2, Funny)

NitsujTPU (19263) | about 13 years ago | (#2209982)

Oh yeah, and how can I capitalize on this?

@home? (2)

room101 (236520) | about 13 years ago | (#2209959)

Seems like they should have more important things [] to worry about that implementing stupid crap like this.

There is no way for them to tell if said copyrighted thing is actually allowed or not, such as the example of copyrighted documents, etc. Just cause it's copyrighted, doesn't mean you can't download it.

Gee, with customer service like that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2209962) it any wonder they are going out of business? (I wanted to put a link but search was down)

Disconnect all /. viewers (2, Funny)

the_other_one (178565) | about 13 years ago | (#2209964)

This post is copyrighted by the_other_one.

You must purchase the right to read my posts or be cut off by your ISP.

My current rate is $200.00 CDN per character. Please email me the cash prior to reading.

Re:Disconnect all /. viewers (1)

Mr. Sketch (111112) | about 13 years ago | (#2210113)

Done. I've e-mailed you the required cash, and I must say I feel very jipped. I thought I was going to get an insightful response, but I guess not, oh well.

Re:Disconnect all /. viewers (1)

checkyoulater (246565) | about 13 years ago | (#2210114)

200CDN is like .50 $US.

The way I see it, it isn't even worth a stamp.

Oh, come on. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2209966)


Everybody knows what is copyright and not legally downloaded, and what's downloaded with the approval of the source.

You folks need to stop throwing up lame scarecrow arguments about getting in trouble with the New York Time for reading their articles.

You just look dumb to everybody.

IHBT (1)

DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) | about 13 years ago | (#2210035)

Fine - I'll bite.

How do they tell the difference between a 1.5Mb low-quality version of a Bare Naked Ladies song and a 1.5Mb high-quality 30-second sample of the same song?

access cut off?? (3, Funny)

canning (228134) | about 13 years ago | (#2209969)

Why don't the Aussie's just give the guilty parties the boot? I saw it on T.V. once, it seemed to work.

It's just a little CYA (2, Insightful)

TrollMan 5000 (454685) | about 13 years ago | (#2209973)

They're doing this to merely keep themselves clear of copyright infringement lawsuits.

That's all fine and good, but the way they go around doing it is wrong. From the article:

The users added that if an individual is breaking the law on the Internet, it should be treated in a similar way to somebody abusing the telephone system.

"The police should have to apply for a warrant and then present that to the telco to authorise monitoring for a specific person for a specific period," the reader said.

The people are getting upset with the ISP. Their ire should be directed at the real source of the problem: the copyright industry. It's gotten so bad that even ISP's are driven to the point of paranoia about copyrgiht infringement.

My question: Is it all worth it?

Gotta love corporatespeak (1)

mdwebster (158623) | about 13 years ago | (#2209976)

"I wouldn't call it policing, we're just trying to comply with the law and by highlighting the issue to customers, its putting us in a better position as acting as a responsible Netizen on the Internet," the (excite@home) spokesperson said.

It just makes feel all giddy inside when I see such corporate self-delusion. I really boggles the mind that someone could believe that cutting people's accounts off without warning is "highlighting" and that this action is even going to begin to put them in some "better position". I'd sure as hell be looking for a different ISP if I were using their service.

*FWOOSH* (5, Funny)

Psarchasm (6377) | about 13 years ago | (#2209977)

Hear that? Thats the sound of a giant toilet flushing your privacy down the drain (counter-clockwise).

Almost everything you download is copyrighted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2209981)

Even Linux and all its components are copyrighted. I think it's very bad that an ISP decided to do laundry for the big copyright owners. Sad. And it may even increase the ISP's operational costs (imagine scanning all those downloads)...

11th or 12th post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2209991)

Eat it, you fucking pussies!

This scares me (2, Interesting)

jimmcq (88033) | about 13 years ago | (#2209994)

I've never been one to feel paranoid, but this kind of stuff creeps me out!

They can monitor my computer use at work... and now they are monitoring my computer use when I'm at home.

This just sounds like another case of innocent until proven guilty... Not even the government can monitor this kind of stuff without the proper warrent, but this corporation can. When exactly did the big corporations get more powerful than the government??!?

What ever happened to the right to privacy? How have we let things get to this point?

Copy rights and viewing (2)

Zachary Kessin (1372) | about 13 years ago | (#2209996)

All newspapers copyright their content. However if they have it on their web site you can assume that you can view it. After all if they didn't want you to view it they wouldn't put it online. You can even save a copy for later. And you probably can email it to a friend. In fact many papers have an "email this to a friend" icon. About the only time you could have problem is if you put it on your own web site. In that case you should ask, or post a link.

Time to use sftp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2209998)

Time for all the warez sites to change over from ftp servers to allowing sftp transfers.

That way no one can tell what you're downloading because it's ssh encrypted.

Let me guess whos behind it (0, Flamebait)

bjb (3050) | about 13 years ago | (#2210001)


I have one guess who is behind it: Micro$oft.

I've been seeing the posters all around NYC lately; in the subway, on billboards, etc. They've put a bug in peoples asses to pay for their software. Microsoft's catch phrase over the last few years has been "innovation", but now it seems to be "licensed". Hmm, I guess their stock price is hurting a little, eh?

Anyway.. its not like they don't have the right to pursue this stuff, but at the same time, you should have heard how they were pulling out every trick in the book to cover up a false charge to my co-worker's credit card. C'mon.. they've got enough money..


Magic Data? (2)

sllort (442574) | about 13 years ago | (#2210002)

If there are any lawyers in reading, we need a magic document that has the following two properties:

1) It is an illegal copy of a copyrighted work

2) Reading the document violates lawyer-client privelege, doctor-patient privelege, or the DMCA, preferably all three.

For instance, the document has a copyrighted non-illegal trailer and the entire document is zipped using the password "password". By detecting the copyrighted payload, we can sue them for accessing the non-illegal trailer which was protected by the "PkZip" anti-circumvention device.

If we can find this piece of data and get an Excite@HOME user terminated for downloading it, we can prosecute Excite for reading it, preferably under the DMCA.


WARNING TROLL - TROLL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2210062)

Do not mod down parent, the trolls are trying to get him moderated down. There is no goatsex link, it's just a vendetta.

Re:Magic Data? (1)

InigoMontoya(tm) (463228) | about 13 years ago | (#2210083)

Problem: This is happening in Australia. No DMCA there. Yet.

Could this happen in America? Something tells me that something like this wouldn't hold up in the American courts. Just like you have a reasonable expectation that Ameritech (or whomever) won't be listening in on your phone conversations listening for you to spell out the DeCSS code, I think (and IANAL) you have the same expectation from an Internet provider. In turn for the protection of your privacy, the government won't hold them responsible for anything you do (just like you don't see them hauling up Ameritech on charges every time a bomb threat is phoned in somewhere.)

Again, IANAL. Take what I say with numerous grains of salt.


It would just take 10 years for the courts... (1)

orionpi (318587) | about 13 years ago | (#2210148)

... to decide that it was illegal and in the mean time [insert large corperation/government agancy here] would continue eavesdropping and suing/arresting people. Got to love the US justice system.

Re:Magic Data? (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | about 13 years ago | (#2210135)

infact, perhaps we should start transmiting all our data thisway then the DMCA will protect us.

From the article: (2)

JoeShmoe (90109) | about 13 years ago | (#2210005)

"I wouldn't call it policing, we're just trying to comply with the law and by highlighting the issue to customers, its putting us in a better position as acting as a responsible Netizen on the Internet," the spokesperson said.

Did anyone else read this and see the word Nazi-an? "Comply with the law! Schnell! "

- JoeShmoe

Will this result in more SSL and secure FTP (1)

m_chan (95943) | about 13 years ago | (#2210006)

connections? I wonder how long before opening a secure (or any) connection to an address that contains copyright material will be considered sufficiently egregious for an ISP to castrate your service.

Wondering... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2210008)

Does Excite@Home Aussie run a Beowulf cluster?

Fugheddaboutit! (2)

xyzzy (10685) | about 13 years ago | (#2210011)

First of all, this is Australia, which has, if it can be believed, even more draconian IT-related laws than the US.

Second of all, WHOMEVER@HOME is going to be out of business in about a week, so no worries, right? :-)

Dictionary anyone? (1)

patter (128866) | about 13 years ago | (#2210014)

"I wouldn't call it policing, we're just trying to comply with the law and by highlighting the issue to customers, its putting us in a better position as acting as a responsible Netizen on the Internet," the spokesperson said. "

Ok, so does that mean I can give you a parking ticket, because I'm trying to be a good citizen? Sorry folks, enforcing laws is generally held to be 'policing'.

While they clearly stipulate in the T&C that they have a right to monitor the network, that IMHO at least generally means they can watch for abusive use (using too much bandwidth, or attacking their servers).

To my knowledge, standard practice in the industry extends this to monitoring their own network performance, QUANTITY of what people are up/downloading (e.g. bytes), but this wouldn't be news if they weren't trying to figure out what files you're getting and from where...

Check your DMCA at the door (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2210022)

Here we go, it's only a matter of time before the virus scanners become copyright enforcers. However, there is something you can do:

Trust Microsoft Anti Trust?

Take back the Net!

We need to organize.

IPSec (1)

jimmcq (88033) | about 13 years ago | (#2210026)

Would something like IPSec prevent this? When are we going to get to the point when all TCP/IP traffic is encrypted?

What else can be done to protect our right to privacy?

Why meta moderation sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2210027)

The FAQ states that comment shouldn't be rated based on whether the reader agrees with their content, but rather on their "presentation".

I think we need some system to make sure that these "rules" are kept monitored. Most moderators here on slashdot feel that like God's.

"Yeah, he's wrong here. I don't like atheist, so let's put this one on '-1'."

Learn to read the RTFM before moderating.

woah, WOAH!! (4, Insightful)

Telek (410366) | about 13 years ago | (#2210028)

Isn't this a MAJOR invasion of privacy? I can't remember exactly, but I seem to remember that ISPs were told they were NOT allowed to do that to modem users, as it violates several privacy issues. You're required to get a warrant prior to initiating any snooping whatsoever. Just like the Telephone, they can't do that!

And besides, HOW do you tell what's pirated and what's not, from random streams of data? If I download 2 movies at a time, it's going to seem like garbage (a raw stream that is). And HOW do they know that it's pirated? How can they distinguish a pirated movie from a non pirated one? Similarly with data or music, how can you tell? What are they going to do, scan for patterns that might match? Get someone to watch all movie streams and listen to all audio streams? Think about how hard it would be to figure that out. Or are they just going to scan what SITES you visit, and then ASSUME you're pirating? This is crazy!

Re:woah, WOAH!! (1)

cavemanf16 (303184) | about 13 years ago | (#2210145)

...and if they're 'snooping' i.e. - reading your downloaded files as they d/l, what's to say they don't accidentally catch a purchasing transaction of legal software, a d/l of an update to existing software, or other such info that contains you're credit card #, passwords, usernames, real name, etc? I agree. This is a completely illegal invasion of privacy, unless you want to go back to Nazi Germany days and live in such a suppressed, brainwashed society.

3 times in one day (1)

Atrophis (103390) | about 13 years ago | (#2210029)

today must be a good day for copyright violations and piracy, becase the stories just keep comming in.

and to be honest, the cant be a good thing..

Invasion of Privacy? (2)

theNAM666 (179776) | about 13 years ago | (#2210032)

What's the status of privacy protection in Australia? In the U.S., at least, a telco can't drop "we can listen in on your conversations at any time to see if you're using the lines to illegally play your grandson exchange tapes of Johnny Carson" into a AUP, and then get away with "occasionally sampling" communications. Violation of the Electronic Communications and Privacy Act of 1990, among other things -- and clearly criminal.

Does Australia have similar protections? Is this a bunch of arrogant sysadmins thinking they own anything on their machines? I'd love if this were a case where someone like the EFF could go after Excite@home with guns blazing...

audio/video snippits (1)

simon333 (185359) | about 13 years ago | (#2210034)

I'm assuming that the filtering is looking for specific data such as mp3's, avi's, etc. This raises the question, what about downloading snippits such as those on Exactly how much of a song or video constitutes a copyright infringement?

horrible horrible horrible

Isn't everything copyrighted? (2)

Kraft (253059) | about 13 years ago | (#2210036)

"Doesn't the New York Times copyright their online articles? Can I not view them any more for fear of violating Excite's policies?"

In Denmark, whatever you produce (texts, images, lyrics) is automatically your copyright. You don't buy it, or have to specifically declare it copyrighted. Isn't it like this in the States?

Re:Isn't everything copyrighted? (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | about 13 years ago | (#2210171)

nope, in the US unless you release it under a copyright licence, it is considered public domain.

Here's a question... (1)

cavemanf16 (303184) | about 13 years ago | (#2210038)

From the article: "Excite@Home, however, said that users are made aware through the terms and conditions set out in its Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), which say that it will monitor the network from time to time."

Anyone else ever seen how the EULA's often include a clause saying that the EULA can change at any time and that you'll be held to the new terms? So if you sign up for service from an ISP for a year, non-refundable, and they change their Acceptable Uses policies, you can't back out of their service without paying the full price for your year's service? If you're paying monthly, isn't that like renigging on a business contract when they change the rules on you? But you can't call the contract null and void, even though the rules changed on you. Something smells to high heaven about that...

Re:Here's a question... (2, Funny)

InigoMontoya(tm) (463228) | about 13 years ago | (#2210159)

If you're paying monthly, isn't that like renigging on a business contract...

I think the word you're looking for there is "reneging," from the same root as the word "renegade" and the verb "renege." "Renigging" isn't a word, and could potentially offend members of certain demographics.

That may be something you would want to keep in mind for the future... the word you used could get you into trouble (and with a little less justification than the teacher who used the actual legitimate word "niggardly" and got canned. Anyone know what happened to that teacher?)

Just thought I'd help you avoid any future legal trouble.


who's watching the watcher? (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 13 years ago | (#2210039)

since excite/at-home is nearly bankrupt, shouldn't they be putting their time to better use? like selling off some of their overbuilt infrastructure or learning to market their stuff so that they stay afloat longer?

spying on people doesn't revenue bring. then again, it seems with this kind of behavior, they deserve to go [down] under.

Not much brighter... (2)

ChaoticCoyote (195677) | about 13 years ago | (#2210041)

...than my six-year-old daughter's school district. They came home from their first day of school yesterday with an "Internet Agreement". In part, it states that "students are prohibited from downloading any copyrighted material."

email? usenet? FTP? (1)

checkyoulater (246565) | about 13 years ago | (#2210043)

I wonder if they will be monitoring email too. How about usenet? Will this be an across the board scan for "illegal content?"

I am curious how they can only scan for certain things. How the heck does this even work? Keep a log of what people connect to, and then check it out later?

Would this kind of activity even stand up to a court challenge?

Download Linux, get your access taken away? (3, Interesting)

Tin Weasil (246885) | about 13 years ago | (#2210047)

If they were really penalizing people for downloading all copyrighted materials, then you would get yanked for downloading GPL'd software, since it is, in fact, copyrighted.

Hey! Take a look at the bottom right corner of your page when you load slashdot! There is an OSDN copyright!

Really, I don't think any aussies who is doing anything legitimate (reading the NYTimes for example) has anything to worry about here.

I support any ISP for yanking connectivity of anyone for any reason. It's the ISPs right. Maybe they don't like you because you don't take baths (sorry RMS).

What is disturbing is that the ISP in question is actively monitoring it's user's online transactions and actions. That, in my OP is a violation of privacy.

This is about bandwidth, not copyright (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2210050)

Excite@home could give a rat's ass about "copyright violations." What they really want is a way to get rid of people who use a lot of bandwidth, and an easy way to do it is to scrutinize their high-bandwidth-volume customers and find an excuse to terminate their service. Copyright infringement is a convenient excuse.

This allows them to save money by not expanding their infrastructure.

Common carrier status (2)

sammy baby (14909) | about 13 years ago | (#2210055)

Historically, US companies would have considered this an awful idea. US ISPs have often taken the line that they are simply access providers, and should not be expected to inspect everything that goes across their networks. This is what's usually referred to as "common carrier" status, and it's what prevents people from suing the Post Office for delivering a porn magazine to a child. (Note - IANAL, but I don't think the companies have been particularly successful in claiming common carrier status.)

The problem is that the second you start spot-checking clients data, you have essentially abandoned your status as a common carrier. In for a penny, in for a pound, as the saying goes: once you start checking, you're obligated to check just about everything to make sure it complies to the law.

This is in Australia, where I'm sure the law is quite different. But now that so many access providers are tied to media production companies, how long will it be until ISPs in the US start pulling the same kind of tricks?

Easy way to render this unusable (1)

bbum (28021) | about 13 years ago | (#2210056)

Everyone and everything should start using weak encryption to transfer data of any kind.

The computational power required to break weak encryption would render it basically impossible to monitor data transfer in real time. It also obscures the conversation such that it makes it extremely difficult for the monitoring agent to be able to tell what part of the sampled conversation should be analyzed offline to determine if the data is copyrighted.

/. could lead the way be providing an URL that uses a low bit rate certificate to obscure all data to/from slashdot. The more people that do this and the more P2P (likely a significant target) that integrate weak encryptioni, the more difficult of a job Big Brother has.

Blatantly false (1)

CrazyBrett (233858) | about 13 years ago | (#2210057)

I wouldn't call it policing, we're just trying to comply with the law

But it is policing! What they're doing is no different from a cop sitting by the side of the road catching speeders. The only difference is that they're also bypassing the rest of the legal process by deciding your guilt and then punishing you by shutting down your account.

Just because some dippy spokesperson "wouldn't call it policing" doesn't mean it's not!

-- Brett

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let's get our crack team of Slashdot IANAL's.. (1)

SaberTaylor (150915) | about 13 years ago | (#2210079)

on the case!

This doesn't sound like "normal course of business" under US Code Title 18, Sec. 2512. Oh #$@& it's Australia. Well like I was saying, bust out the IANALs.

Scary... but not surprising (2)

tulare (244053) | about 13 years ago | (#2210082)

Where I live, residential customers and businesses have two options for cable modem service, which is fabulous for a town of 20,000. The first option is provided by the city public utilities dept., which has run fiber rings throughout the town, and then coax to the curb. The city then contracts with local isps for residential service. The other option is the local cable company, which has contracted with @home to provide service. Each costs about $25 a month, although the bandwidth is with the city service, not surprisingly (I can look out my window and see the fiber node nearby).

The biggest difference is less obvious: people I know who are using the @home get constant scans (not just one or two ports, either) from IP addresses which resolve themselves to something like (obfuscated to avoid implicating the cable company, which I believe to be innocent to this activity). When I look at my logs, what do I get? A chron job from the city DHCP server polling every five minutes on port 68. And a bunch of port 80 requests from who knows where :)

What don't I get? Why on earth @home seems to think it's ok to portscan its customers like they do. The article seems indicative of just how paternalistic they are: "We are the arbitraters of what you can and can't download. If you are running open ports, we need to know why. What? You don't like it? Read the (revised) terms of service, dodo." I consider myself lucky to have the option of broadband without @home as a provider. It's apparent that most people don't have that choice. We all know what happens when a monopoly goes unchecked.

I'm all for it ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2210091)

... if it means less aussies on the net!


Excite@Home Restrictiveness (1)

Script0r (305025) | about 13 years ago | (#2210092)

I have been an @home customer for several years now, and have found out the hard way that they enforce rules that aren't quite in their Acceptable Use Policy [] I have been repremanded for uploading over 500 megs in a 24 hour period. I don't remember reading anything about that in the AUP. Recently they filtered port 80 and 25 without any warning when they have specifically stated that they would not filter these ports in the past.

6 months later: Excite@Home goes out of business (1)

jareth780 (176411) | about 13 years ago | (#2210093)

February 23, 2002:
Due to the large percentage of people involved in the trading of illegal software, or "warez", Excite@Home's recent termination of customer's accounts has led to it's revenue dropping a staggering 25% over a period of less than 6 months.

"We saved ourselves a lot of lawsuits and headache with this new policy, and will continue to enforce it as long as these laws exist." a spokesperson for Excite@Home said on Monday.

The spokesperson then went on to sell his stock in the company. When asked for comment, he said "I just want to check out other companies. This has nothing to do with the 25% drop."

Great Idea, Guys! (1)

Phanatic1a (413374) | about 13 years ago | (#2210095)

Obviously, this is just a brilliant strategem with which @home hopes to stave off their impending backruptcy.

I have no idea how it's supposed to work, but I'm sure alienating your current customers when you're already near-broke it really a good idea. Somehow.

a suggestion (1)

thexdane (148152) | about 13 years ago | (#2210096)

well if you are worried about them snooping your packets don't use their "high speed" proxy servers. they are a big waste of garbage and you do not get stuff any faster, you are on a broadband connection.

i use rogers@home and i used to use their proxies but not now i have no use for them and i configured myself statically when i ran windows many moons ago because their dhcp servers would go down a lot or they would kill my tcp/ip stack when trying to renew the ip. when i switched to linux, since it "wouldn't support" dhcp i had myself configured statically and their was my "firewall" problems as well.

but if you really want to switch isp, some of them such as videotron in quebec and charge you for bandwidth use and i'm sure there are other ones around the world too

We can only hope this doesn't reach the US (1)

Veras'Tor (517435) | about 13 years ago | (#2210099)

As an American Excite@Home user, I am greatly dismayed to read this. Although this is only in Australia, the company may soon implement the same policies here. Scanning downloads is a clear violation of people's privacy, whether the law says so or not. Excite@Home might as well be using backdoor trojans.
I download games on a fairly regular basis, and I truly only view them for about a day, and if I like them, I buy them. If not, I delete them. Thus far, I've bought roughly 20 games I've downloaded to preview. If I didn't have that chance, I never would have bought them at all. I certainly realize that I'm part of a tiny moral minority. If Excite@Home starts banning people like me, it will probably hurt the game companies. People like me won't buy because we never became interested, and people who downloaded without paying will probably just never buy the game.

Goodbye due process (2)

ttyRazor (20815) | about 13 years ago | (#2210104)

This is like mall security confiscating your car for shoplifting so you can't get to their mall anymore. When people are more and more expected to have internet access for various stuff that's possibly work related or of real-life importance, getting your Internet access cut off is a death sentence. This system needs some accountability for wrongful service termination fast.

BBS days here we come.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2210108)

I guess this means that the Small Local BBS users will se a resurgance in use. Lord knows I don't want every one of my emails to my wife read. :-)

I'm sorry, but ... WHAT? (2)

aralin (107264) | about 13 years ago | (#2210111)

So you no longer need a consent of one of the parties or a court order to intercept communication? Thats interesting news.

whose copyrighted works are being protected? (1)

BenSnyder (253224) | about 13 years ago | (#2210116)

Regardless of whether or not Excite@Home has the authority to monitor their networks for copyrighted materials, it seems obvious to me that they're only going to monitor their network for selected copyrighted materials.

My guess is that Excite@Home is going to patrol for copyrighted works by major record labels and movie studios, leaving your average copyright holder in the cold. Because essentially everything has a copyright attached to it, they're going to have to make a judgement call as to which works they're going to patrol for. If you want to find out what those works are, I'd follow the money trail.

Big Brother (1)

tankrshr77 (170422) | about 13 years ago | (#2210123)

This just in: excite@home licenses technology to communist China to filter "copyrighted" (uh'um right...) material.

Another step towards big brother watching over our shoulders?

Boycott Nosy Providers, DMCA Supporters (1)

lordvolt2k (301516) | about 13 years ago | (#2210126)

Money talks, as long as people continue to support the ISP's and companies who love the DMCA, they will continue to ignore those of us with valid complaints against the DMCA, etc. Our goverment is no different... if you want a senator to listen to you, you should be prepared to shell out some cash.

I say its time we boycott providers and companies with ties to things such as the DMCA and absurd patents. The same goes for those who dislike Microsofts business practices. If you want a company to listen to the voice of the people, they need a reason to. As long as the cash is flowing in, they wont change.

Face it, democracy is dead. The time has come to wage war and fight back for our freedoms.

What I'd like to know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2210127)

What I'd like to know... is when did Austrailia become a haven for paranoid fascist bastards who can't mind their own damn business?

Don't they know thats our job as Americans? We don't need any help thank you... :)

Good thing that's not allowed in the US (1)

bluestar (17362) | about 13 years ago | (#2210138)

Geez, I mean

opress and

like Australia?

What this means is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2210142)

You are dealing with an organization that is violating your privacy. How would you feel if your phone company sent you a letter saying "we're going to start mandatory eavesdropping to make sure you're not discussing anything illegal"? Would you stand for that? You have just as much a right to demand the privacy of all your personal electronic communications: but if you let the businesses you deal with dictate these kinds of terms you deserve what you get.

DUMP Excite@Home NOW and tell them why, then go out into the big crazy world and find service providers that respect your privacy. Sheesh, it's like newborn babes out there...

No surprise (1)

ioman1 (474363) | about 13 years ago | (#2210144)

I heard that Verizon had turned this down saying they cannot keep track of everyone. Looks like some ISP's are going to monitor people. I would find out if your does...before you are behind bars.

freenet (2)

akb (39826) | about 13 years ago | (#2210152)

Now would be a good time to start using and donating to Freenet [] which provides anonymous communication and is immune to censorship.

SSL (1)

Nicodemus (19510) | about 13 years ago | (#2210158)

Find a good external shell of some sort with SSH and pass any illegal software through it. Or find a good SSL HTTPS proxy for downloading from web sites. Let them try and sniff that.


No need to worry (2)

jd (1658) | about 13 years ago | (#2210160)

Excite@Home is bankrupt, 1 billion in the hole, shares around 50 cents a throw, and a headache from hell.

If they can -afford- to hire someone to read through the scans, they'd be lucky. If they can then afford any lawyer fees in suing anyone, tell the directors to stop borrowing off their moms.

face it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2210174)

we're screwed. Current governments were never set up to protect against giant corporations. Religeons were the former enemy of freedom, and govts were designed accordingly. Who will come up with the next design?
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