Comcast’s Crossed Wires

Dave Zatz —  January 29, 2009 — 8 Comments

I’m somewhat concerned to learn that the RIAA may be enlisting broadband providers, such as AT&T and Comcast, to police their networks for content theft. While I don’t condone software or media piracy, I’m uncomfortable with Comcast tracking my every move online. Especially given their apparent inability to keep their records straight. As John Aprigliano discovered when Comcast misidentified him as a movie pirate:

Waiting in my snail mail box for me was an unassuming letter from your favorite cable provider, and mine, Comcast. Contained in this letter was information pertaining to an alleged torrent download called “Cadillac Records.” I have come to learn that “Cadillac Records” is a movie with Adrien Brody and that their marketing for this movie must have really sucked because with what ever thousands or millions of dollars they used to promote this movie, I have never heard of it

We’ve heard cases like these before, where customers are assumed guilty until proven innocent. Fortunately, John knows a bit about networking and helped Comcast discover their “alleged infringement” error. As it turns out, the offending cable modem, identified by hardware MAC address, was no longer in his possession. Having been redeployed by Comcast after he moved.

I can also speak firsthand of Comcast’s inability to handle customer moves… and confidential data. My post last April documents how we ended up with the former resident’s email account and password. Leading back to my privacy concerns. What exactly did Comcast do with John’s account and personal information after (incorrectly) flagging him for a DMCA violation… Was this data provided to a studio or distributor? What about law enforcement? And how did they follow up with those entities once it was determined this was a false positive? Further, has his account been cleared of this inaccurate transgression?

We’re going to need a lot more transparency in how these issues are handled.

8 responses to Comcast’s Crossed Wires

  1. Well now I have an interesting dilemma. I just canceled my Comcast cable modem service. They want the 10 year old 3Com Sharkfin modem back or I have to pay an 80 dollar fee. Okay…but maybe I should eat the fee and destroy the modem? If they redeploy it – why would you considering the age and so forth, but if they do – then I might get nailed for piracy at some point. Sure I can prove it wasn’t me, yadda yadda, but the time and possible expense might not be worth it. 80 bucks is significant, but maybe it’s worth it for peace of mind? Opinions? Should I return or destroy this giant wedge-shaped device?

  2. Sounds like a good racket to me. They rent you the modem 10 years at $3 a month and then charge you way more then the replacement cost if you don’t send it to them. Considering that you’ve paid $360 in rental charges already, you’d think they’d just let you keep it.

  3. This is also why you should be careful about wireless security.

    P.S. Usenet > BT

  4. Jim, If you entirely canceled Internet service with Comcast, I would think you have a pretty solid defense should they screw up like this. It’s unfortunate we even have to worry about it, though.

    Ivan, Excellent point and a good reminder. Unfortunately, those most likely to be targeted/piggybacked/victimized are folks who don’t even realize these issues exist. I’m on WPA2 and I made sure my mom is. Maybe Melissa’s mom too, can’t recall. But I see plenty of open routers around here.

    Usenet is old school. Man, I remember assembling multiple files into something usable in college back in the early 90s.

  5. Evil. But expect it to get worse before it gets better.

    Net Neutrality will rise from the dead ( killed by Comcast and AT&T lobbyists ) sometime in 2010 and bring Federally mandated transparency. Would have been sooner but the economy is getting a high priority by the new administration.

    So all you evil doers at Comcast, collusionists at the FCC, RIAA and MPAA scum bags types, get this kind of non sense out of your systems now before Net Neutrality just ruins your life.

    http://www.savetheinternet.com

  6. Wait a minute Dave, you mean that Comcastic knows I’m visiting ZNF?
    Oh, oh….

  7. Didn’t know it was a crime or even possible to copyright a torrent file since it only contains the information needed to download the files and does not contain the actual files. Comcast and the RIAA probably have no evidence that that torrent file was actually used to download illegal content.

  8. I always buy my modems/routers outright and if I upgrade I keep them, thank the lord I don’t use Comcast…obviously the Com in Comcast stands for communist in my opinion. Lawsuit time

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