Weekend tech reading: Grandma threatened over torrent download

By on July 17, 2011, 3:11 PM

70 year-old grandma threatened over BitTorrent download As the mass-BitTorrent lawsuits continue to pile up in U.S. courts, more stories of what appear to be wrongfully accused persons hit mainstream media. A 70 year-old retired widow from San Francisco falls into this category. The grandma was recently ‘caught’ sharing porn on BitTorrent and was offered a $3,400 settlement, or the option to risk a $150,000 fine in a full court case. TorrentFreak

Verizon tells customer she needs lawyer & subpoena for itemized bill, judge disagrees Earlier this year, a woman in Pennsylvania contacted Verizon to find out more information about the $4.19 she was being charged on her home phone bill for six, unspecified local calls. Big V told her it would provide the itemized information, if she got a lawyer with a subpoena. Several months later, and without an attorney, she finally got a judge to agree with her. Consumerist

Microsoft contributes a lot of changes to Linux kernel 3.0 The 343 changes made by Microsoft developer K. Y. Srinivasan put him at the top of a list, created by LWN.net, of developers who made the most changes in the current development cycle for Linux 3.0. Along with a number of other "change sets", Microsoft provided a total of 361 changes, putting it in seventh place on the list of companies and groups that contributed code to the Linux kernel. The H

Hotmail banning common passwords to beef up security Passwords are a perennial problem in computer security. We all know that we're meant to pick "secure" passwords and never reuse them, but few of us actually bother. One consequence this can cause is losing access to our accounts; some bad guy figures out the password to our World of Warcraft, Steam, or e-mail account, and then proceeds to trash it. Ars Technica

EA to shut down online servers for 13 of its games Brace yourselves, EA gamers. Electronic Arts is up to its old tricks. The publisher has announced that it will be shutting down multiplayer servers for more than a dozen of its action and sports games. These games either have low multiplayer traffic or are sports games that are being replaced with new versions. Yahoo

high-bandwidth interplanetary connection If your slow Internet connection has you frustrated, just be glad you don't have to communicate with a probe on Mars. Even with new technology, scientists will be able to transmit only about 270 megabits per second between the two planets, not a lot of information when you're talking about superhigh-resolution photos. Science

Download better, stronger, faster Over the years, Steam has delivered a lot of bits to a lot of people. Delivering content is really at the core of Steam, and we have been working on improving that core. As of today, you can download some of the content on Steam using all-new server and client code to get the job done. Steam

Rumor about NSA-Google alliance to stay just that The National Security Agency does not have to disclose its relationship with Google amid press reports that the two partnered up after hackers in China launched a cyber attack on the U.S. government, a federal judge in Washington ruled. Courthouse News

Teeny-tiny antennas Engineering researchers at the University of Michigan have found a way to mass-produce antennas so small that they approach the fundamental minimum size limit for their bandwidth, or data rate, of operation. Michigan Today

CSI smartphone Where you’ve been, who you’ve talked to, who you’ve been sleeping with – secrets that people wouldn’t even share with their closest friends are being spilled into a device that knows you better than any confidant. ProPC




User Comments: 12

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---agissi--- ---agissi---, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Great articles, thanks for the news Mr.DeCarlo & TechSpot

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I never thought i would see the words "grandma", "sharing" and "porn" in the same sentence.

I thought maturity killed that sort of thing.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

The legal system aside, I wonder what the accuracy rate of those lawsuits is? I know that everyone gets all upset when some grandma gets arrested, but I'm willing to bet for every innocent grandma there are 10 people who pirated what they're being accused of pirating.

Unfortunately the EFF has been pretty bad in picking its poster children so far. They should be paying money to defend these people, not defending actual pirates.

And I wonder what sort of evidence would be necessary to properly defend such a civil suit? Chances are you can't use the "take a look at my client, she would never do this crime" defense. You'd probably need to pull down logs on your computer, contact your ISP for the same, etc. You'd probably need quite a hefty investment of money to prove that you weren't responsible for any piracy.

superty12 superty12 said:

gwailo247 said:

You'd probably need quite a hefty investment of money to prove that you weren't responsible for any piracy.

Better than saying you're guilty.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

superty12 said:

gwailo247 said:

You'd probably need quite a hefty investment of money to prove that you weren't responsible for any piracy.

Better than saying you're guilty.

These lawyers may be slimeballs, but they're not stupid. The standard for a civil case is not reasonable doubt, which would be child's play, but a preponderance of evidence. It might be very easy to instill a reasonable doubt in jurors that a 70 year old woman is probably not sharing porn, but for her to provide evidence to the contrary in a civil trial would take a lot more work.

And when you typically settle a civil suit you don't admit wrongdoing, so now you're looking at paying $3,500 to make the whole thing go away, vs spending tens of thousands of dollars to hire enough expert witnesses (who can cost several thousand a day) in order to take apart the plaintiff's case, with no guarantee of success.

Unless you have the money or connections to be the test case for this suit, chances are you are going to settle with these people. The only real way to fight them would be for the EFF or someone to provide both the lawyers and expert witnesses to each person getting sued, and to try to bankrupt the plaintiff firm by forcing them to pay defense fees each and every time they lose.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

"Parked in her rickety old garage, is a brand new shiny red, super mod box"...!

It's the "little old pirate from Pasadena".

Leeky Leeky said:

I dunno, I've met some pretty cool nan's in my time! I bet there are some that do!

Guest said:

I wonder if grandmas also are guilty until they pay to prove their innocense. World has gone completely bonkers or what?

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"Microsoft contributes a lot of changes to Linux kernel 3.0"

It's been rumoured that Microsoft will drop the Windows name after Windows 8. I guess it will change it to Linux.

Leeky Leeky said:

About 90% of those changes were submitted by one single Microsoft Employee, and they're mainly all in respects to VM Ware, and other VM technologies, so Microsoft hosts will play nice with Linux guests; exactly how Microsoft want Linux to be in terms of their products.

superty12 superty12 said:

gwailo247 said:

And when you typically settle a civil suit you don't admit wrongdoing, so now you're looking at paying $3,500 to make the whole thing go away, vs spending tens of thousands of dollars to hire enough expert witnesses (who can cost several thousand a day) in order to take apart the plaintiff's case, with no guarantee of success.

Don't pay people for doing nothing but wrong. Take apart one case and they are less likely to do another. It also gives innocent citizens more confidence in fighting them.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

superty12 said:

Don't pay people for doing nothing but wrong. Take apart one case and they are less likely to do another. It also gives innocent citizens more confidence in fighting them.

You're right, which is why the settlement offer of "only" $3,500 is so attractive. Most people don't have the money to hire an attorney and all these witnesses and will probably take the easy way out and settle (plaintiff counsel will probably hook you up with a great payment plan).

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