Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Cox Communtions and computer scanning

The term scanning may be incorrect, but I cannot think of a better adjective at the moment. Please note this is a story about a friend, not myself. I am a reformed 'pirate' or 'patriot for free information'.

Last week my friend received a telephone call concerning his Internet connection. It seems that he had finally been busted for downloading the newly released movies and music from other users of Limewire. Cox informed him that they would turn off the Internet connection until they could verify that he had deleted the infringing copyrighted works.

They went so far as to tell him what the file names were and a general time line pertaining to when they were downloaded. Shocked, my friend complied and deleted the files.

When he called Cox back, they activated his Internet service. After about 5 minutes of my friend waiting on hold, Cox confirmed that he had deleted the files.

Here is the conundrum floating around in my head. How did Cox know that he deleted the files? I am pretty sure I know how they discovered they were shared, but how did they know he deleted them? Unless all they did was activate the Internet service and analyze the traffic of Limewire.

My other puzzle is how can they legally monitor the traffic of a user. Obviously they knew the files were there, they had the exact file names. I have read about the services of companies that monitor and download copyrighted work to identify copyright infringement. How is Cox involved though.

So not only do we have the US Government potentially sniffing our communications, but also our ISPs looking into the packets of our communications. (Though some have said this has been going on for a long time).

It should make anyone uneasy. The situation does highlight the need for privacy reform in the United States.

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