ISPs in the USA to start monitoring customers’ downloads starting July 1, 2012

With SOPA and PIPA out of the way, what other magic tricks does the entertainment industry of America have up its sleeve? How about having ISPs (Internet Service Providers — your Internet company) play copyright cop. Last year in July major ISPs across the USA agreed to ramp up efforts to clamp down on piracy. Since that time, we really haven’t heard much more about this copyright policing. Now, a few days ago the CEO of RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) announced major ISPs in the USA (Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, etc.) have agreed to start monitoring what their customers download starting July 1, 2012.

Copyright Cop

Under the agreement signed by the ISPs and RIAA/MPAA, ISPs adopt what is called a “graduated response” to piracy (i.e. illegal download of intellectual property such as movies). Customers who are accused of file sharing will initially get one or two “Copyright Alerts” informing them of their infringements and asking them to stop. If, after sending these alerts, the customers in question still continue to pirate they will receive “confirmation notices” which ask consumers to confirm they got the Copyright Alerts. If customers continue to pirate, ISPs can choose between a variety of tougher measures (dubbed “mitigation measures”) such as throttling Internet speed or restricting Internet access until the customer stops pirating.

The RIAA/MPAA wants ISPs to build database which keep track of customers so they can flag the number of times a customer has been accused of illegal downloading.

This agreement between ISPs and RIAA/MPAA has been years in the making and has received political support, particularly from the White House.

Why This Is Important

This is important simply because all your Internet access and activity is seen by your ISP. If they wanted to, they could very easily tell you what you did on the Internet on what day, e.g. you visit X website at X time on X day. Thus, this is probably the most significant and effective step taking to date to fight piracy.

It isn’t important that ISPs are monitoring and logging their customers’ Internet activity; ISPs have been doing that for a while for stuff like cooperating with law enforcement. What is important is ISPs are now doing this to assist corporate America — not law enforcement. Where is the check that prevents abuse?

Issues With This Plan

The biggest issue with this plan, in my opinion, is how ISPs will determine who is downloading and if that downloading is legit or not. Now don’t get me wrong. ISPs have extremely intelligent engineers who have tricks to figure out what is being downloaded by who. What concerns me, however, is when ISPs get it wrong, i.e. false accusations. Also, what about shared networks? Is it OK to punish multiple users just because one person on the network is downloading something they shouldn’t?

The other major issue with this plan are privacy concerns. As mentioned above, ISPs have always had the ability to monitor Internet usage because they have had to comply with law enforcement requests. However, that was for law enforcement; not for the RIAA/MPAA. Law enforcement requests usually require probable cause and the approval of a judge through a warrant. What gives the entertainment industry of America the right to bypass these basic American rights? Where does the monitoring begin? Where does it stop? Are ISPs allowed to share data on people with other ISPs?

What about censorship. Isn’t throttling someones Internet access a form of censorship? This is the same Internet access that has been dubbed a “human right” by some organizations around the globe.

Finally, what happens if a customer refuses to stop downloading? Are they taken to court? Fined? Sued? Do consumers have a say in the matter? What can they be liable for?

The Bright Side

Not all is gloomy. ISPs have the choice of waving mitigation measures for individual customers, if they so decide; and none of the ISPs have agreed to permanently shutdown subscribers. Furthermore, I can see less lawsuits being thrown at consumers simply because people can argue in court the entertainment industry had tools to stop the pirating but they didn’t so they can’t hold people accountable. Finally, there are bound to be services and software that crop up to beat the system, for those that are really bothered by this.

Conclusion

This just feels dirty. The potential for abuse is high and privacy is bound to be trampled upon. I’m no lawyer but this feels like a violation of rights us American take as for granted. Only time will tell how this plays out. Here is hoping for the best.

Let us know what you think about this plan to monitor people’s downloads in the comments below.

[via CNET]

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53 comments

  1. lolwutmad

    if i get a notification from verizon, i’ll cancel my verizon. many people will do this, and certain ISPs who religiously enforce this will go out of business. don’t tell me there arent alternatives, it’s only the big ISPs taking part in this smaller, smaller ones have told the RIAA to shove off.

  2. Frank

    I think that this class of event, I mean the type that has to do with the Internet and civil rights, boils down to one thing only, namely a transition away from the capitalistic paradigm and closer to a socialistic one. The current forces at play all hinge on profit, or, put more clearly, money. This is the crux of the matter and the real issue to address, in my opinion. The common people, who are, at the end of the day; the true owners of all forms of wealth in a country (otherwise, who? Or how would wealth exist in the first place?) should not stand for this sort of thing. It is the unlikelihood of assembly that keeps common people from expressing themselves in a clearer way before government and organizations. Whether we like it or not, literature classics (for example) cease to become the ‘private’ property of their authors, and by involving all of society (even if only represented by the characters in a novel, for instance) they become the property (if we can, indeed, speak of such a concept at all) of us all. I don’t mean that authors and other involved parties should not receive recognition, but to forcibly think that that recognition should unequivocally manifest itself as money, or any form of material wealth is not clear to me at all (and very questionable). We are ‘taught’ to think that it must, but that is only another skewed [and perverted] way of looking at things.
    As I see it, people have an inherent right to share things if they want to. This right comes before (i.e. is more important than) other rights: I visualise a mother ‘sharing’ her body with an unborn child, for example. Now along comes some interested party and starts to tell you that you no longer have that right, simply because exercising it prevents them from profiting in some way.
    It is not true that people need the incentive of money to do things: we have been brainwashed into thinking in this way. As a matter of fact, people tend to prefer other forms or recognition. Sure, we all want to live well, but that’s just it, we ALL want to live well, not just a few. If a person has a talent for making films, then by all means do it, and revel in the recognition that that begets them, but share it at the same time, not for profit but for the sheer ‘naturality’ of it. All of these conflicts indicate that there is a fundamental flaw in the way that we see things, and that is precisely what we should pursue to change.

  3. intelligent_hoodlum

    Greetings fellow men and women,
    I feel that ISPs should do something about corporations cracking down on illegal downloading.

    Personally I feel that money… and making as much profit as they can for someone to own a
    copy of something they must have for their collection is the reason for the new policy. I propose
    that ISPs lower the cost of internet world wide and reserve a portion of monthly dues to collectively pay
    for all the illegal downloading. Time warner is 40 dollars a month and AT&T is 20 a month… obviously it can
    be done without bending the customer over in the process.

    That way the corporations get what they want and internet users get what they want.

  4. John

    I am sorry, this article is poorly written and misleading. First of all, ISP’s are NOT the ones who are tracking your downloads. How the new step program works is an outside company or 3rd party notify’s the ISP about illegal downloading. The ISP then contacts the customer with a warning. Your ISP will not be monitoring you internet usage, since it is not in their best interests. ISP’s are a business. To monitor all their customers would cost millions of dollars and thousands of hours. Its not like your ISP stores a web history of you like your browser does, its all logged as IP addresses, in multiple databases which are not too easy to access. Get a grip.

  5. Paranoid lurker

    Anyone here read the fourth realm series by john twelve hawks? Other than the fantasy elements, it is scarily possible. For those that haven’t, a world wide organization is controlling and monitoring peoples lives through a virtual panopticon, http://cartome.org/panopticon1.htm . using credit cards, internet usage and using surveilance carmeras both public and private to monitor our every move. While this is paranoid and weird to think about, think on it for a second. We have the technology, as has been stated aboveit would be easy to track every move you make through your cell phone and car gps systems. This would take it a step farther, if you decide to go on a walk through a park or even in your own neighborhood, they would know. They could know exactly what you are doing nearly every minute of every day. They would know what you watch on tv, they would know what you searched on google, they would know when you went on a diet or broke up with your husband/boyfriend or wife/girlfriend. And with the onset of social media sites like facebook, we are helping them by posting what we are doing every day, in a place where it is impossible to have privacy. They could read your texts, listen to your calls, or even record conversations you had near your phone/computer/tv/in a public place. Before you call me crazy, just think about it, would it be that hard? They would justify it in the name of “advertising research” or “national security” and before you know it the only free people left will be in Somalia.

    And this is about step four, monitoring internet access at all times. You see, we are already most of the way there, so just let go and let them do the thinking for you.

  6. Richie

    To compliment my former comment about calling your ISP and cancelling your service to not only show that you are not going to allow them to do this to you but that you have the control not them. I also believe that if you really feel that the movie industry, MAFIAA, and other sources are going against your believes and rights then stop supporting them. Stop going to the movies, stop buying movies, stop buying music. If you see something that is affiliated with that brand and business then don’t buy it. How are you going to put out a fire when you are constantly “fueling” it with money and power. If they forget who pays their checks, if they forget who made them who they are. Make them remember. Start today.

  7. MirceaKitsune

    Important: I again received some shocking news from EFF by email (they’re a serious source of information) about a potential revive of the actual SOPA / PIPA.

    http://act.demandprogress.org/act/vs_hollywood/?referring_akid=.661516.qyUGJ6&source=typ-tw

    It appears Hollywood is trying to shut down all cloud websites. Basically, it wishes to take down Youtube, Google Drive, and all cloud services out there, the same way Megaupload was removed. The article mentions them trying to circumvent congress so they can force their law through without a vote. What this means is most major websites which allow file storage would be gone… and we are back at SOPA as we know it.

    This comes just a few days after I heard about the ISP initiative and an update on CISPA. Jesus Christ… has the world gone completely mad? Are those groups desperate beyond limit to shut down this internet? They now want sites like Youtube to disappear forever… who almost entirely addressed the issue of copyright material being uploaded. Is this even about copyright any more, or is that just a pretext?

    Yeah, I agree… this is an outright war with the entertainment industry at this point. I don’t feel like fueling the fire here so people can jump to their own conclusion… I just found the article and linked it. There will probably be more information soon, and if that’s true likely another blackout. Feel free to re-post this post anywhere without asking.

  8. Patrick

    @JoJoBo:

    > After all, no politician or political party can afford to ignore the demand for privacy from half their population, even if the hundred million or so people don’t contribute millions of dollars to party funds.

    I wouldn’t be too sure about that…
    1. looking at the various forms of “representative democracy” worldwide, the representative part is problematic. “People power”, I’m afraid, does not work. It never has, if you look at it a bit more closely. Not during or after the French Revolution, not in the US, not in today’s “Arab Spring/Revolution”… It’ sad but it’s a fact.
    2. Research about people’s willingness to give up “some” privacy in favor of “security” shows that a significant majority is willing to accept “a certain level” of government intusion on their privacy (i.e. police, teh military, tax authorities,…) In this way “the people” are willingly loosing their freedom step by step.
    3. Politicians (and the parties they represent – rather than the people for whom they’re supposed to act) do ignore “the demand for privacy from half their population”. For (at least) one simple reason: what you call “half the population” is far from the actual 50%. How many people who are allowed to vote do vote, and do so correctly? [Far the latter I refer to Bush Jr.'s 2nd election victory, the proceedings of which were questionned worldwide.] And what percentage of the total population is that?
    4. …and when they do not bluntly ignore their voters, they have an army of spindoctors at their fingertips.

    But perhaps I’m a bit too cynical?

    Greetz,
    Pat.

  9. MirceaKitsune

    On a separate note, I would like to inform everyone of something even more important. CISPA is going to expire soon and will be voted in the senate… probably secretly and under the desk like we’ve been used to seeing (so no date is known). Everyone who is against it is strongly advised to call their senators ASAP and firmly ask them to vote against it! I don’t have a link but you should be able to find their phone numbers on google and older SOPA / CISPA articles… I’m too tired and outright sick of the whole thing to look them up myself. I consider this even more dangerous than the ISP initiative, and by all means hope this law won’t happen either :( As usual, please spread the word and re-post wherever you can so everyone knows. We need to show the senators those who oppose it are large in number, since as with SOPA they will not be able to vote on a law that everyone is visibly against. The house already passed it, so this is even more urgent for that reason.

  10. MirceaKitsune

    I have some good news everyone. It seems the project was delayed until past this July. There’s no specific date as to when they wish to implement it, although evil corporations and ISP’s are still hoping this year.

    http://torrentfreak.com/us-six-strikes-anti-piracy-scheme-delayed-120518/

    That likely means they are scared, and have taken notice people are revolted. This is our chance to react and give them a good scare. What I hope will happen is people establishing a date when they can go to their ISP and protest… maybe knock at their door and have a nice heated discussion (I don’t wish to imagine a worse scenario *yet*).

    If such happens the project will certainly be killed, and we would further send a message to those who wish to crush the internet so they understand once and for all we’ll never accept it in any form. Including those who support CISPA, who they hopefully understand will also not pass for the sake of both sides and everyone else.

  11. Eric

    Verizon just sent me a first notification that they found illegal content, including the name of the files referenced. That makes me want to drop Verizon fast. Is AT&T participating in this nonsense?

  12. Rilla

    Anyone know when Verizon is (or if it will) notifying its customers about this? Seems like Comcast is the only one sending out notifications to its customers and the rest of us have to find out second-hand from the news…

  13. MirceaKitsune

    There are other important things I would like to point out about this, which I didn’t fully get to last night. Those are points that I believe everyone should carefully look into and inform others about.

    This will allow your ISP to spy on everything you do. If they spy your data they will be able to read your emails, IM’s, how many times you called your boss a moron, how many times you sex RP’d online… everything. Theoretically, they can even spy on what you discuss with your co-workers, and secretly share private information with the competitor of the company you work for. Or if you access a porn website, they could tell everyone about it and the things you look at (even your parents or husband / wife). Next, if you access a website about something your admin dislikes, they can easily invent false claims against you to bully you. Imagine being cut off the internet because you are gay or accessed 4chan. Or going to school one day to find out the head teacher mysteriously knows you’re gay or something you only said privately, then everyone finds out and you get bullied. Also, what do you think will happen to people who post bad things about America’s leadership, the US army, uncover war crimes or government abuses, and that sort of thing… especially with the NDAA being around?

    If anyone thinks this won’t happen because “they will be nice people and will only use this to catch thieves”, you are more than naive. No, it WILL be used for this and much worse if it happens. I don’t even need to point out what power hungry and control hungry characters are behind this.

    But even if (just for the sake of pretending) this will only be used against pirates. Those pirates might have an online job, not to mention friends they talk with and other activities (unrelated to piracy). Cutting anyone off the internet at this day could cost many their jobs, and some even their lives. And then… being humiliated in spite by being sent to classes about copyright and scolded like a 2 year old by some internet provider? This by itself is a hateful practice, which as a mentality was used by communist and nazi regimes to show their power. Those who spoke against the regime but didn’t pose a big threat weren’t killed, but instead beaten in public and left without food and water for days, to show an example to those who disobeyed. At a different scale, this is the same mentality being put in practice here with those “lessons”, against people who might have done as little as downloading a song. We live in a mad world.

    Alongside the practical consequences, this is also an insult to all internet users. We are being qualified as thieves automatically, and investigated prematurely to make sure we aren’t stealing. Using the internet will now be a suspicion of theft by itself… also known as being accused of a crime before you even commit it. In any normal world, people would be outraged at such a slap in the face. It’s the same as installing cameras in everyone’s homes, watching them when they eat / go pee / have sex / etc. just to be sure they aren’t raising cannabis in their house. Christ… not even Gaddafi or Kim Jong Il dared to do this.

    As for hoping that some ISP’s will stay free, no. This is simply a new attempt to pass a law worse than SOPA. Currently, they paid or constrained ISP’s to pretend they’ve taken the decision on their own. After people would have cooled down and enough accepted this practice, they would also pass a law to make the whole thing obligatory. It’s basically doing it before it’s legal, so people get used to it first and they can later legalize it more easily. That’s why everyone needs to act urgently.

    One thing’s for sure: They are up-front trying to make America a dictatorship, and I’m not talking just about this event (the NDAA is another thing). Many laws worthy of the worst dictatorships are being forcefully pushed in the US. The world has a very important choice to take in the next years, and if the wrong one is taken expect us to return to a medieval terror-based leadership. This isn’t a theory or exaggeration, it’s happening under our eyes.

    Once again, please post about this everywhere you can and spread the word. Make a topic on all forums you visit (if there isn’t one already), post it on your Facebook / Twitter, and if you own a blog publish an article. We should also contact every news TV station or website and pressure them to speak about it. Please make people aware of the things I wrote in this post also (feel free to re-post all of it) so they can better see what we’re dealing with (as many still think it would only stop piracy and it’s ok). We have a disaster beyond words in front of us, if everything we read about this is true.

  14. richie

    You people have to stop being such tools. I mean honestly if you don’t like what your isp is doing it’s very simple. Call them. Complain and make it very apparent that you don’t like them monitoring your privacy and CANCEL YOUR SERVICE. You think they are going to continue taking away your rights when they are losing money. Not in corporate America. When you are done canceling your service. What now??? Here’s a idea. Well I can guarantee that you don’t have any other choices for a ISP. So start fighting for less ISP monopolies in this country. Why do you think they can do things like this??? Maybe because so said company knows you have no other choices. Is that fair???? Is that legal??? NO, not really last time I checked, but you SHEEP are allowing this to happen to our country.

  15. newJason

    Ok people, do you believe it now? I have been a hardline activist against these sorts of legislations and have been telling everyone I can to take action, but no one ever does. So this is result.
    First of all, the internet is not a human right, it’s a service that can be provided to you for a cost.
    Therefore, If you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it.

    The problem here is the content producers have been too lazy to keep up with technology and have resisted implementing any sort of DRM into their content or content delivery systems. Now they are so far out of the game, that it will take many years, if ever to implement any sort of content protection as people are not going to pay for something they have been getting for free for so long.

    IMO, the content providers have shot them selves in the foot and rather than admit they screwed up, they want to make someone else do the work of protecting their content, so they turn to your ISP because many ISP’s are also content providers and that makes them powerless when the studios demand something like this.

    You want to do something to stop this??? Take a very care full look and investigate who supports this crap legislation and who does not, Do your homework and on NOV 6 VOTE for and elect your representatives and officials who can understand common sense and who know what =right and wrong. Spread the word and be adamant about what you believe in. It’s time to look at and vote for the best person to do HIS /HER JOB, not the person who represents your party affiliation.
    Don’t vote for the idiots that support this type of legislation, and don’t vote without being informed, it’s time for the apathy to stop. People are smart, the government does not think that is true, so show them who they are working for ….

  16. CrazedLeper

    What is it going to take to make a greedy person realize that he simply has a stupid idea? How long must we all tolerate the pursuit of the erroneous concept of “intellectual property” before we all admit to ourselves that, no matter how rich, stupid, determined or greedy you are, YOU CANNOT OWN A THOUGHT, AN IDEA OR A PATTERN!?

  17. A

    The smart thing to do would be to provide legal access to content at a reasonable price rather tan exorbitant monthly fees for an entire channel of content when all you want is one or two programs. This lets people vote with their dollars for the content they really want to see. Sometimes you can do a show by show subscription through amazon or iTunes but often not for current content — only say after the season is over and the dvds are released.

  18. RobCr

    @Hamza:
    I’ve seen Nikita using the Tor Network.
    I did not think they could surpass the blond Nikita series, but I think it is at least equal (and is better produced).
    We have only had series 1 in Aust, I must google to see if they made more.
    They have been replaying all of series 1, and thanks to my age (70), I have been enjoying the repeats.

  19. Josh

    Agreed, piracy is wrong. But recording studios and artists are seriously to blame for it. Greed drives them to charge ridiculous prices for mass produced items. We read about their excesses every day. If they had sold their products at reasonable prices, piracy would never have become such a big problem. As it is, even with piracy being rampant, they are still making huge profits, yet they salivate for more. Anti-piracy laws will not bring down the prices; it will simply hand them the monopoly to increase it even more. And it is nonsense to think that the US government is not part of this. Looking at the whole picture, it is abundantly clear that this is just a sham to enable politicians to wash their hands in innocence in public. Laws like these always end up punishing the innocent, while hardened crooks thrive. The real crooks, counterfeiters for one, are henceforth going to have a ball.

  20. JoJoBo

    It is interesting that the FBI has crossed the globe to extradite the owner of Megaupload, from a compliant country, for alleged breaches of copyright, but have done nothing about the myriad illegal restrictive trade practices of the MPAA and the RIAA.

    Both the MPAA and the RIAA have failed to realise that they are in a battle they can’t win and that their behaviour is driving the increase in piracy. They have managed to offend so many people, even those who would normally buy music and movie DVDs/CDs, that, on principle, ordinary people are increasingly bypassing such practices as exorbitant pricing and the absurd region release system. More and more audio artists and movie producers are turning their backs on these two organisations and releasing their productions independently, at reasonable prices, directly to the world market, with great success and very profitably.

    Should the control of ISPs, as designated in your article, become law in the USA (The Land Of The Free?), there are numerous ways to thwart, foil, or even completely render the legislation useless (an ISP. or ISPs, based outside USA jurisdiction could provide satellite Internet connection to USA citizens). Before that happens, I hope that the people of the USA let the White House know their feelings on the matter. After all, no politician or political party can afford to ignore the demand for privacy from half their population, even if the hundred million or so people don’t contribute millions of dollars to party funds.

    People power does work.

    Oh, and yes, this is a privacy issue NOT a piracy issue.

  21. Jon Steedley

    Hello, Ashraf.
    I noticed that “kit temple” has what may be a good idea, for some.
    I *think* that “kit temple” was saying that, like the telcos, there is the possibility of sub-contracting a broadband line.
    I’m pretty sure that a T3 line can be ‘sub-let’, maybe DSL, & other broadband also.
    So, you’re DBA [doing business as] “moonlite internet services”, so he can tap directly into Att&T’s backbone line.
    I know that the local library has/had their own T3 line.
    However, I don’t think that this is actually a “software” issue, because any ISP, from a local telco, to an international carrier, is going to be using hardware to control their servers 1st, then software to ‘monitor’ the requests.
    Remember, your browser sends a request for a file to the server, which then either responds w/ the file, or passes off the request to the another server.
    In either case, there WILL be a record of the request, & the response, as that is the way that ALL servers are set up, to my knowledge.
    But his point is that, some broadband subcontractors could sublet a connection to the trunk line, or the backbone.
    Way down south in Georgia, I get my broadband thru the local catv, which, apparently gets theirs from BellSouth.net, which is what I see when I do an online speed test, @ speedtest.net.

    Have a GREAT day, neighbors!

  22. RobCr

    @Ashraf:
    I have a bit of a problem in my adopted country.
    I hate cricket, and I hate australian rules football.
    Aussie rules is like a giant chaotic raffle. It is a mess to watch. I have seen a couple of past players, that can make it look skilful, but that is so rare, due to the rules, and the unruly ball shape/size.
    But I hate cricket the most – because it is boring. Plus they have to nitpick over ‘leg before wicket’ and chucking (bowling with a straight arm).
    If they let me change the rules, I might watch. EG Use a steel ball, and no shin pads. That way we don’t need a ‘leg before the wicket’ rule, as they will quickly learn to get their leg well out of the way.
    Regards,
    Rob
    PS If I went back to my birth country (Scotland) –
    – I would freeze to death.
    – Not sure if they have cricket ? ?. (They may treat it with contempt, because it is English. The Sassenachs have raped/pillaged/robbed us for centuries.)
    Did you’all know that the Romans conquered the whole known world. EXCEPT Scotland. They had to give up, and instead build a giant/long wall to keep us out(in).
    – They have Soccer (aka Football), which could be interesting, if they let me change the rules.

  23. GAOTD Installer

    I tried to post stuff about VPN’s but Ashraf’s comment spam took my comments lol
    ————————————————————————-
    Original Comment

    VPN services is what I’ll be using if this actually becomes true…

    I tested about 12 free VPN services and I found
    RiccoVPN to be good for unlimited data,
    CyberghostVPN for 1 GB data/month Unlimited speed
    Tunnel Bear for 500 MB data/month Unlimited speed
    proXPN has limited bandwith (100kbps) Unlimited Data

    Lastly, Spotflux is still in testing and I hope it comes out in time

    Can’t post links so go use Google ;)

  24. Liam K

    @Ashraf: I think that’s the idea; if traffic is encrypted, your ISP can’t tell what’s being transferred — only how much data. I’m sure once the aforementioned policy is implemented, the EFF’s HTTPS Everywhere add-on will quickly become much more popular (and uTorrent’s “Force Encryption” feature in the settings).

    > To add to that point, I’m no lawyer but from what I hear downloading is not a litigious offense (i..e you cannot be sued for downloading)
    I’m fairly sure the MPAA/RIAA will send a cease and desist if they sniff your IP address at all. The three strikes policy applies though, afaik.

    Regarding the VPN article, I have a draft started but I’m doing my best to juggle the article and a research paper on copyright reform I’m writing for a class. I was also hoping to see if I could get free trials in order to compare the speed of each respective VPN, but considering I have 15 on the list, that might not be reasonable…

  25. Col. Panek

    Remember bulletin boards? When we’d just pass stuff along by dialing from one 286 computer to the next? It would take a week to get your email across the country. Nowadays, you could have a peer-to-peer wifi network, totally unlicensed and unregulated. OLPC computers are set up to do this in the third world.

  26. Dustin Renner

    Well you can stop ISPs from snooping on you and protect your privacy by getting an encrypted tunnel like hushtunnel.com and clearing evercookies (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evercookie).

  27. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @donna dawson: Although the government did give their backing in this, it isn’t really the government doing this. Its the entertainment industry of America.

    @Kerry: Ouch, dialup… I feel sorry for you.

    @Rafael: Interesting analogy. I really didn’t think of it like that before. My guess is the other actions would be a lot more obvious to the American public, who wouldn’t stand for it. This is more behind the scenes.

    @Patrick: I agree there are always two sides to the coin. However, with the entertainment industry making record profits it is hard to see their side (not that I’m support pirating — I’m not).

    @Patrick: This is true but I think his point was “inform police when X happens”, not necessarily that install GPS.

    @Home User: To add to that point, I’m no lawyer but from what I hear downloading is not a litigious offense (i..e you cannot be sued for downloading); uploading is a litigious offense, wrongful distribution or misappropriation or something like that. And for what it is worth, I think they may also be monitoring uploads — I’m not sure though.

    @Jeremy: Good points!

    @RobCr: Some Aussie love there I see. BTW Rob do you watch cricket? I <3 cricket.

    @Donna: Umadbro? (That’s a reference to a video game jargon.)

    @Comcast user: While I’m not sure I agree with your logic “get X for free so purchase X” when it comes to pirating, I do see your point.

    @Mayank: Hmmm? I’m not sure how this would affect other citizens, unless you mean other citizens living in the USA in which case they have to abid by USA laws anyway (this isn’t a law, yet, btw).

    @Dave B: I try to avoid conspiracy theories and all but “America the Free-except-for-certain-aspects-of-your-life-that-rich-people-don’t-like” is not a bad way to put it.

    @Richard W: Sometimes it isn’t possible to drop the ISP. There are many places that have limited choice.

    @Anonymail: Ditto!

    @Dianne: You are welcome! I’m sure there are ways to encrypt your traffic to make it hard to read but no, you can’t get access to the Internet without using an ISP.

    @Switch-kun: Okay, I don’t agree with the whole “we pirate because we have to” argument.

    @Liam K: I wonder how accurately traffic encryption tools will protect you. I’ve never really looked into it. And, yeah, whatever happened to that VPN article *cough*.

    @kit temple: Erm, I’m not sure what you are asking. o_O

    @Irritated: Problem with proxies are many of them aren’t anonymous, reliable, or safe.

    And it is hard to mobilize the public is such a great fashion. The only reason we beat SOPA/PIPA is because corporate America (the web 2.0 part) spoke against it.

  28. Irritated

    If everyone who they threatened told them to shove it and encouraged others to do the same, sooner than later they would stop their threats. Lost revenue from canceled customers speaks louder than even the RIAA and MPAA combined. Just ask Limbaugh about the power of an irritated public.

    Of course, an anonymous proxy wouldn’t hurt, either

  29. kit temple

    ok, i’m pretty much cyber-ignorant but how complex is the software that connects a computer to the “internet”? if my 2gig dual core pc can run it, why shouldn’t at n t (fr instance) be required to let me use their system like they must do for telephone companies. actually, i think they have to provide access for dsl services too. is a license required to access the internet? who owns the internet? the government (of by and for–us). so i dba “moonlite internet services”, hire at n t’s hardwire system (no intervening software), connect, and go online as fast as their wires/fiber and my software will allow. any “monitoring” at that point is wiretapping. oh well .

  30. Switch-kun

    RIAA/MPAA = Modern terrorists. Where the hell did privacy go? Good thing I don’t live in the US…

    In this world, not everyone is rich. Just because I pirate this and that doesn’t mean they should sue me. In fact, some people like me are forced to pirate. We have no choice! For example, if you parents won’t allow you to buy a new video game this month, you resort to pirating just to play the singleplayer until you get to buy it when you parrents allow you to, in order to enjoy the other content that needs internet connection. Or… if you don’t have the cash to buy it now, you’re forced to pirate it because you can’t wait to try it out. Ontop of that, some companies are even telling you to pirate their games. Ubisoft is a prime example. They believe DRMing all their games is the best way to fight piracy, but it’s backfiring. Everyone is hating on Ubisoft since you always have to have an internet connection before you play, even singleplayer! These days, very few people care about Ubisoft and they pirate their games to tell them that their DRM is useless and they should stop creating more enemies.

    Obviously the RIAA/MPAA ignores these factors because they are greedy pigs who want more and more money. The future looks grim.

  31. Dianne

    Hi Ashraf, Great article as usual. Thanks for always keeping us updated on the Latest but not always the Greatest…
    Is there anyway to get around this? This is probably a really stupid question, but, is there any other way to get to the internet besides having to use an ISP?
    Thanks, Dianne

  32. Anonymail

    @Richard W:
    That would be the best thing to do if it is possible. Unfortunately where I live there is one service provider. And they know it! I don’t pirate, but I also like my privacy. I agree with whomever said they should monitor uploads. They are the people making this stuff available. Or lets go further, make it harder to rip a DVD.
    Heaven forbid the movie exec’s daughter not be able to afford the newest Chimmy Choo’s ($600.00) or the best Louise V bag! ($1200.00) Just another case of the 1%ers squeezing every penny out of the rest of us!

  33. Richard W

    Instead of getting mad, how about dropping your internet provider, if they chose to participate in this sham. The only way to a corporations heart is through it’s wallet. If they lose enough subscriptions, they will drop this like a hot rock. There will be providers that will not go along with this, and those will benefit.

    Don’t get mad, get even!

    America …. Once a Republic, for the people and by the people.

  34. Dave B

    George Orwell wrote about the erosion of rights over half a century ago. The writing has been on the wall for a long time. “America the Free” is now “America the Free-except-for-certain-aspects-of-your-life-that-rich-people-don’t-like”.

  35. Mayank

    This is going way too far from America’s side. America has taken a step which might not affect USA a lot but what about other countries. Also if such a act or right has to be enacted then permissions should be taken from the countries government for doing so. Till now according to the news only America has taken this step so it should mean that only America’s citizens should get affected. But If it happens that citizens of other countries are being affected without the other countries agreeing on such an act or right then legal action should also be taken towards America.

    Only god knows what will happen. I rather wish that the hackers hack these foolish SOPA/PIPA type of act’s websites or other such rubbish.

  36. Comcast user

    Comcast is already sending alerts for downloads of copyrighted material.

    I am afraid I do not understand the copyright industry. Just think for a moment of all the music, books, movies… that you have bought after having come to know of it when you got something for free.

    I have dozens of books that I bought after discovering the author, or the book or a book that mentions it from the public library. My public library has allowed me to read many books for free, but it also incited me to purchase many books I would never have known otherwise.

    The same is true for movies. By watching movies for free on IMDB or Crackle or Hulu, I have discovered many directors, actors I want to see more of. Thereby, making me buy their other works.

    Does the copyright industry understand this? Also, there are books, movies that I get and enjoy when they are free, but that I would never buy if I could not get them. I would just never experience them and that’s it. And that leads back to what I said first.

  37. RobCr

    Australia is normally the first to take away citizens rights.
    Our Labor (left wing) government was (over a year ago) going to get all our ISPs to filter what we look at, and download. They haven’t been saying much about that lately, so don’t tell them about the new US plans.

    We were the first to have seat belts.
    We ban import of nutrients that you can get over the counter in US.
    We are not allowed to be drunk in public.
    In fact this week there was news coverage of police going into a pub (hotel), where patrons were sitting drinking (no music, etc), and they arrested some people for being intoxicated. They are lucky I gave up drinking (headaches).
    We have virtually banned smoking. They are very lucky that I gave it up years ago (headaches again).
    If I were (was ?) still drinking and smoking, there would be a remake of ‘Cool Hand Luke’

    Ah! I miss my young days when there were (was ?) –
    – No bans on smoking
    – No Seatbelts
    – Bench seat with girlfriend under my passenger side arm, and an open can of beer in that hand.
    – Doing 110 mph
    – No mobile phone bans (mind you, no mobile phones)

  38. Jeremy

    Great article Ashraf.

    There are a lot of issues with this. I do not like being monitored in any way, especially like what others have said, being monitored in my private home. While I don’t agree with piracy, I do agree with privacy.

    What if I purchase a digital copy of a movie or software, or decide to rip my own purchased material to my PC and then uploaded it to an online back up service to save some space on the PC when not using it, then I decide to download it when I am ready to use it, how do you define that? If I was questioned, would I have to show a receipt for my paid material? Also, not all torrents are illegal or contain copyrighted material. If I decided to use a p2p program to download something that is not pirated or copyrighted, how do I prove that?

    There are too many potential issues with this that I personally feel violates our rights as consumers. We pay for a service, in this case internet services, we as the consumer should be able to use it as we see fit. I don’t know of anything else that I have purchased that after I pay for it I am told how I can use it, and be penalized if I use it incorrectly. If I am paying for 30Mbp/s download speed and that gets cut it in half because I am “suspected” of doing something, that’s like paying for a gallon of gas but only getting a 1/2 gallon. I don’t know how the ISP’s would be able to justify this.

  39. Home User

    We might know about most things if it has a copyright, not always, but seems to always be about downloads and never seem to be about uploads? It would be lots easier to monitor uploads then you wouldn’t have to monitor any downloads.

  40. Patrick

    @Rafael:
    “Why not have all car companies install a GPS monitoring device (…)”
    Most cars have gps built in as a standard or very cheap option… and will be coupled to your engine sooner than you think. This is already the case with roadtransport of goods and people (trucks and busses) to reduce costs and promote safety (so they say). This is the case in Europe. I don’t know about the USA…
    Most cell phones are tractable through networks coupled to satellites…
    Have no illusions about the power (-potential) of modern technology…

    Patrck.

  41. Patrick

    Hi,

    This will undoubtedly affect Europe and the other continents, actually monitoring still closer what the “unsuspecting citizen” does on the intrnet as a whole, i.e. monitoring not restricted to copyright infringment.
    Worldwide the authorities have clamped down on civil rights in the name of “the war against terorrism”. This seems to me to be a not-so-new move in the de-democratization movement that has been going on ever since. Private global companies and governments are like siamese twins in this.
    But let’s just wait and see what the exact legal implementation of this private agreement will amount to…
    There is admittedly more than one side to this discussion. The entertainment industrie’s proclaimed loss of income e.g., should be very closely looked at with regard to the money streams involved and the people behind it .
    I don’t feel at ease even though I do not download any illigal content. Some weirdo may think otherwise and come down on me hard (even for just venting my opinion here, I wonder). McCarthy-ism has never been closer since WW II… And Big Brother is no fiction anymore.

    So I seem to have the same issues with this plan as are voiced in this article…

    Patrick.

  42. Rafael

    I was wondering why this kind of legislation/actions are not forced on other industries?
    Why not have all car companies install a GPS monitoring device that will inform the police each time you go over the speed limit or pass a stop sign? Furthermore, why not have a device attached to that same GPS that will prevent the car from going over the limit. And what about traking your whereabouts? We have the technology to do it! Why don’t we?

    same goes for guns. Heve Colt install a device in each one so they can know where and when it was fired. And report that to the police?

    Oh, yes, They will have to make and install the devices on the guns and car, but it’s not the same for the software and devices used to track down Internet usage?

  43. Kerry

    All we have here is dialup and they won’t let you go faster then 26kb’s unless you pay for a faster service then its only 28 kb’s Using multiple computers makes no difference. It used to be 40’s and 50 kb’s till AT+T took over . They cut your downloads off if you don’t ping them every 10 minutes. Use to be able to download at night when I went to bed so it would be done by morning but no more. To me that and this article are all attempts to invade privacy in a round about way. How far will America let them go in slowly taking away or changing all our constitutional rights.

  44. donna dawson

    First Google and now this! We all know what should and should not be downloaded for the most part. Of course, newbies might not. I was a newbie myself once as we all were and confused by many things online. However,in my opinion, the government is going too far in doing this. We have private lives and they should remain so unless we are doing something illegal.