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Verizon suspends service of alleged file sharers

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 21 Jan 2010 6:45 User comments (23)

Verizon suspends service of alleged file sharers Verizon Communications has confirmed to CNET that it has suspended the accounts of several file sharers suspected of sharing copyrighted content illegally. The ISP is known for issuing warnings to its customers when they are found to be sharing illegally, but until this confirmation it was unclear whether Verizon would suspend a customers. "We've cut some people off," Verizon Online spokeswoman Bobbi Henson told CNET.
"We do reserve the right to discontinue service. But we don't throttle bandwidth like Comcast was doing. Verizon does not have bandwidth caps." At the end of 2008, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced that it would cease filing lawsuits against individual users and had instead come to an agreement with several major Internet Service Providers in the U.S. to take another approach.

The approach would start with a warning to an offending user. If the user persisted then the warnings would get stronger, until a point where the ISP would determine a suspension was in line. It has been over a year since the RIAA made these claims, and still no ISP has officially acknowledged any support for the RIAA's plan.

Henson told CNET that the number of users who have been cut off is very small, instead noting that the warning letters seem to be having the intended effect on customers. "We've found that we don't have to warn most people a second time," Henson said. "Most people stop. Or they tell whoever is doing it to stop." Many customers who receive warnings were unaware that such activity was taking place in the first place, particularly parents with teenagers.

Verizon does not gather information on its customers itself, instead it gets reports from industry investigators that include an offenders' IP address. The company does not disclose any private information of the customer without a court order.

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23 user comments

121.1.2010 8:44

so basically verizon is screwing you over without any actual validated proof of wrongdoing. isn't that just great. whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty.

221.1.2010 9:30

The private industry is not the US government. They don't have to abide by those rules.

321.1.2010 12:35

suspend peoples accounts and they leave to a new company and Verizon loses money hope the check from the RIAA is pretty big!

421.1.2010 12:38

If they aren't throttling then why is there even an eye being kept on the users. I pay for what i receive, not for you to make me pay and discontinue my service.Ridiculas.

521.1.2010 13:33

Ordinairily I'd be on the Pirate side of things here...

But what they are doing is nothing special. It is almost always against the TOS to host files, serve files or otherwise create some sort of server enviroment on a standard internet hookup. Small servers like game servers are usually ignored but someone sharing large amounts of files constantly is hardly a "profitable" customer for Verizon and they, I'm sure, are quite happy to have them move on to some other ISP.

621.1.2010 14:59

I don't use Verizon. But how do they know someone is sharing files? I've been using Peer Block with a WatchGuard firewall for years and never got a warning from any ISP.

721.1.2010 15:35

Originally posted by HackYuji:
If they aren't throttling then why is there even an eye being kept on the users. I pay for what i receive, not for you to make me pay and discontinue my service.Ridiculas.
Verizon is just testting them own "Good Luck"....so they will loss +10% of them customers....ha,ha,ha.

821.1.2010 15:46

[how do they know?]
Maxing out your upload bandwidth might be a red flag...

921.1.2010 15:49

Originally posted by ThePastor:
[how do they know?]
Maxing out your upload bandwidth might be a red flag...
Agreed, but I could be uploading pictures to Facebook every day for all they know.

1021.1.2010 15:49
fgamer
Inactive

List of ISP's not to go to..Verizon (check) They give you so much speed..but for what!

1121.1.2010 17:02

Ok.. I don't chime in alot here, but there are some people out there that don't understand some things. I don't think that anyone here actually understands what Verizon is doing. Yes they are suspending you, but that is because it is ILLEGAL!! They give you enough warnings for darn sake, and if by the 3rd time your still doing it, than shame on you. You should be smarter than that. Obviously to HackYuji your handle says it all, knuff said. Verizon isnt' screwing anyone over, the only people they are screwing over are the ones that want to do illegal activities. Cmon people, you are only angry because you have something to hide or are doing something that you shouldn't be. (we all know that). ...to ChiefBrdy you can't max out your 50mb upload bandwidth by uploading pics to facebook, (cmon..need a better excuse than that). Verizon does not throttle bandwidth or bottleneck your network. I think ThePastor is the only sensible remark on here. So to Ryoohki you are innocent until proven guilty, (hence the numerous warnings)

1221.1.2010 18:32

Those notices are simply because you are suspected of illegal file sharing. They have not actually proved that you did it. There has been many reports in the news about people being accused of file sharing when they did not do it. I remember the case of one person getting sued who did not even own a computer at the time she was allegedly sharing files and had not had one for some time. Suspicion of doing something is one thing, actually proving it was you and not someone else spoofing and ip somehow is another story.

I know you would like to think the worst of people but this is America and you cannot just be judge, jury, and executioner. This is basically what Verizon is doing to people. True they are not a government entity but they are providing a service that people are paying them for. How are you going to cut someone off just on billy bob from RIAA's say so with no proof whatsoever that it was actually them.

I would also like to mention that the likely targets for this are people who are probably unaware of any illicit activity on their networks or someone who had been compromised. Someone doing a heavy amount of file sharing would more than likely be utilizing a proxy and it would be unlikely their activity would be tracked.

1321.1.2010 18:37

...to ChiefBrdy you can't max out your 50mb upload bandwidth by uploading pics to facebook, (cmon..need a better excuse than that).

Excuse? I'm not even with Verizon. Nor have I ever been warned about uploading or downloading. I have no reason to make excuses.

My question stands. How does Verizon know (without doubt) that people are using torrents? This is not a judgment of right or wrong, illegal vs. legal. It's a simple question.

In any case, I suspect most people doing it will simply move somewhere else.

1421.1.2010 20:38

Well what happened to me about 5-6 years ago my old ISP out of Lawrence KS sent me 2 letters/warnings within 2 weeks or so. They even had the files that I was being accused of listed on each letter. I got peer guardian and never had trouble again. At the same time a friend of mine lost his due to his roommates doing and now he can't have service with them anymore, and when his roommate went to put the service in his name they asked if my friend was living with him I'm sure if he answered yes he would have not have service either.
So when I started seeing this is the news about 1-2 years ago I thought to myself "wow that isp was ahead of the game."

1521.1.2010 21:10
llongtheD
Inactive

Originally posted by ChiefBrdy:
...to ChiefBrdy you can't max out your 50mb upload bandwidth by uploading pics to facebook, (cmon..need a better excuse than that).

Excuse? I'm not even with Verizon. Nor have I ever been warned about uploading or downloading. I have no reason to make excuses.

My question stands. How does Verizon know (without doubt) that people are using torrents? This is not a judgment of right or wrong, illegal vs. legal. It's a simple question.

In any case, I suspect most people doing it will simply move somewhere else.
Yes, unlesss the data stream is encrypted, they can see exactly what your downloading/uploading. Also specific programs use specific ports on your computer for the incoming and outgoing data, and they can see that as well.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 21 Jan 2010 @ 21:13

If your fish seems sick, put it back in the water.

1621.1.2010 21:52

I've gone back to the old fashion way of pissing off the record companies. Trading the music via portable drives at starbucks with friends. So much easier. Record companies should be very afraid of the new Amazon book deal being proposed. Amazon wanting to be it's own publisher. I think Apple and Amazon are looking to essentially become their own music label. Also, it seems that some sort of privacy law is being sbused just for music. Is the ISP turning in every perp who who sends porn over the web? Are they reading your email also? Then again Obama is encouraging the nanny state.

1721.1.2010 22:09
llongtheD
Inactive

Originally posted by bigmodem:
I've gone back to the old fashion way of pissing off the record companies. Trading the music via portable drives at starbucks with friends. So much easier. Record companies should be very afraid of the new Amazon book deal being proposed. Amazon wanting to be it's own publisher. I think Apple and Amazon are looking to essentially become their own music label. Also, it seems that some sort of privacy law is being sbused just for music. Is the ISP turning in every perp who who sends porn over the web? Are they reading your email also? Then again Obama is encouraging the nanny state.
Its doubtful they look at everyone's data. More likely just when a red flag is raised by an organization like the RIAA/MPAA, or a law enforcement agency. Or like others have said, your uploading far more than the average user. But who really knows for sure in this day and age?

1821.1.2010 23:07

They don't want to look at everyone's data...they are not the government; they are a corporation with budgets and profit goals, and they don't have money to waist on monitoring you. The RIAA/MPAA/ETC can download a torrent file and use it to get a list of everyone assocated with that torrent...some of these numbers are invalid or inaccurate, others are correct. So, they contact the ISP that owns the IP adress and the ISP sends a form letter to whoever had the IP adress at the time. Normaly this is the end of it...untill a user has gotten several letters and is still maxing out their connection...and not even using encryption...then verizon cuts them off for their own good, so that the RIAA/MPAA/ETC don't have to take matters into their own hands.

1922.1.2010 6:22

What is happening is legally dubious, at best. The suspension is based on an alleged infringement of the TOS, said allegation coming from a third party.

Its not as simple as it first seems; the suspension involves contract law (the contractual obligation to provide the service), whether a given part of contract law applies and thus overides *any* T&C clause, and how. Also, whether the SP has any involevement; for example, what is the process leading to suspension - is it wholly in response to a 3rd party allegation, or does the SP do any checking at all.

This is where it gets sticky. As pointed out, without adequate checks mistakes can be made - and the MPA/RIAA has a history of this. This, and the lack of success in the courts, has led to MPA/RIAA agreeing this approach with the SPs. But there is nothing to stop the MPA/RIAA still making mistakes and misidentifying the user and/or traffic. Furthermore, the SP now has an involvement; are they blindly sending out letters in response to these allegations, or are they doing any checking of their own? Either way has ramifications - some potentially huge - for both SP and end user.

There are legal implications, in the UK as well as the US, with this approach. It does set the SP up as "judge jury and executioner". And it ignores a fundamental legal principle of innocent until proven guilty.

Others have stated this principle doesn't apply, its not the Govt. Actiually, it does apply in any matter, whether civial or criminal law is involved, whether it is a "state" (Govt) or private (e.g. RIAA) legal action; the defendant is innocent until PROVEN guilty. The burden of proof is lower in a civil/private case ("reasonable doubt" standard in the UK).

(there are exceptions to the principle, such as strict offences where the defendant has to prove innocence, such as having a gun in the UK).

Ramifications? Ok, an SP, any SP, can decide to cease your service tomorrow if they decided to. Simply because they felt like it. Note, I'm not saying they have a legal right to, just that they have the physical ability to do so. Long story short, you take them to court for breach of contract, loss of service, whatever. Court finds in your favour, as they had no good reason to not provide the service as per the contract. Now, in regards to the MPAA/SP cutting you off for alleged unlawful file sharing, the first test case is going to be watched like a hawk, and the outcome will be used as precedent -either in the stricly legal sense or by the concerned parties for future action. It will (or may) decide whether the SP can cease service on an allegation; whether more checks are required; or the process is a massive breach of <insert statutory rights/laws here>; or all or none or a mix of the above; it may decide whether future cases can be dealt with automatically as such, or each case on merit.

Sorry for long post. My interest is the end-user rights, the privacy issues, and who exactly the ISPs will take an allegation from -that s another can of worms; can I call a given ISP and allege that a user is infringing my copyright. And whats to stop it being done maliciously...

2022.1.2010 7:06

i dont think verizon should be cutting people off.When they cut someone off they should be forced to give them a refund.Im sure verizon has a disclaimer on their contract that states if a person uses there service for illegal activities they cant be sued.I think everyone should just stop using verizon.


custom built gaming pc from early 2010,ps2 with 15 games all original,ps3 500gbs with 5 games all original,yamaha amp and 5.1channel surround sound speakers,46inch sony lcd smart tv.

2122.1.2010 7:54

Quote:

Yes, unlesss the data stream is encrypted, they can see exactly what your downloading/uploading. Also specific programs use specific ports on your computer for the incoming and outgoing data, and they can see that as well.

..
I worked for them for a year and they never momitored what someone d/l by specifics just overall bamdwidth use. So if someone d/l xxx, they could not provide you will documents saying that you d/l xxx but only a doc saying that you d/l this much at this location on this day. Now they could go and investigate the location but that is expensive considering the amount of people doing it. That cost man hrs and we NEVER did that. I have no idea who told you that they would track which info you d/l and the specific files but they lied completely.

2222.1.2010 7:58

One thing? llong, what program d/l clent that you know of which uses a specific unchangeable port?

2322.1.2010 19:43

If they find you in breach of the TOS and end their contract with you it would then be up to you to fight that. They can make that finding using any legal means at their disposal. Currently, I do not believe that they can eavsdrop on your internet traffic and use a specific instance of "illegal file sharing" as a reason for breach of contract. They do not say they are doing that.
What they CAN do, though, is target you based on upload volume, number of cease letters, complaints from copyright holders, ect... and warn you that if your activity does not cease they may take action.
One cease letter does not make you a target... tens of cease letters most likely could. Add to that some crazy upload volume and they could easily decide that doing business with you is no longer in their best interest. They will still hold up their end of the contract but I'm pretty certain that their contract will say that they can terminate at any time.

Hey, I got a couple of cease letters and I took steps to make sure I didn't get any more. It's not that tough.

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