Begins the new effort by threatening a woman and her unsecured router...
We recently explored
how Verizon Communications has ramped up their warnings to P2P users who trade copyrighted files, telling those users they will lose their Internet connections -- even if those warnings appear to be a bluff
. As it stands, Cox Communications is the only major ISP we know of willing to actually admit they kick users off of the Internet
based on little more than a handshake and an IP address from entertainment industry.
According to CNET
however, Qwest Communications is now also ramping up their warnings to users, and is threatening to disconnect users based simply on the entertainment industry's say so. Qwest does boot a small number of users from their network for excessive consumption
, but booting users for P2P use is a new one for Qwest. According to CNET
, Qwest's new role as entertainment industry content nanny isn't going very well. They apparently threatened a 53-year old woman with account termination for downloading South Park
episodes, only to realize someone was using her unsecured wireless connection:
Paradiso, a technical recruiter who works out of her home near Pueblo, Colo., would eventually be cleared. Last week, Qwest had a technician investigate--after CNET began making inquiries--and he discovered that her network had been compromised, according to Monica Martinez, a Qwest spokeswoman. So Paradiso is off the hook, but she wants to know what would have happened had she not gone to the media. There was no independent third party to hear her complaint. There was no one to advocate for her.
Even if her wireless AP was unsecured, losing your Internet connection for not setting your router password still seems absurd even if such an action on Qwest's part was supported by any kind of law (which it's not). Again, it's not clear if Qwest is really kicking people off of the Internet yet, or if they're just bluffing like Verizon. We've sent inquiries to Qwest to see if they're willing to actually confirm whether a single user has really been terminated, or if they just want users who receive these letters to believe that's the case.
ISPs clearly want letters and warnings to work, given it would prevent regulations forcing them to be content nannies. But such warnings won't work for long if users are aware that there's no real penalty attached. The problem is, kicking people off of the Internet for downloading episodes of South Park is a dangerous path for ISPs to walk for a long list of reasons
, not least of which is legal liability. The mother in the CNET article has already lawyered up. Meanwhile, whether the entertainment industry falsely accuses someone or kicks them off the Internet, they're not exactly building a lasting relationship with a possible customer:
"I'm the last person that would steal somebody's art," Paradiso said. "I've never downloaded a movie or song in my life. I'm against it. After going through this, I realize this is the kind of thing that could really hurt artists. I'm so paranoid now, I won't buy music or movies online ever."
: Qwest wouldn't specifically tell us if the company has actually booted anybody from the network:
Unfortunately, I can't discuss specific actions taken in response to our overall Acceptable Use Policy -- which includes respecting intellectual property rights and other appropriate conduct -- but once a violation of our policy has occurred, Qwest does reserve the right to disconnect.