Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

Will New Canadian Law Stop Satellite Hacking?

By clion999 in Technology
Sat May 04, 2002 at 01:56:26 PM EST
Tags: Security (all tags)

Last Friday, the Canadian Supreme Court banned people from receiving DirecTV and other foreign signals. Until then, what some call "piracy" was legal in Canada by a strange loophole in the law. ( Here's a long, 15000 word piece full of background. ) Now, the loophole is closed and the clandestine interception is going completely underground. Will it make a difference?

The loophole itself was pretty freaky. DirecTV didn't have a license to broadcast in Canada. That meant that they couldn't charge for their services. It also meant that so-called piracy was legal because you can't steal what's not legally for sale. If anything, DirecTV was the one pirating the Canadian spectrum.

Now, that's changed and it's going to be dramatic. Before this, a number of websites in Canada openly promoted cracking the DirecTV (and EchoStar) systems. They distributed software, reviewed hardware, and discussed the latest defense maneuvers offered by DirecTV. Naturally, all of the information and some of the technology drifted across the border in the US.

Now, the sites are shutting down. Some went down immediately. Others are just dropping the software and cloaking themselves in the freedom of speech. This will probably protect them. Magazines like "High Times" continue to live on. Many of the so-called pirates say that they only steal the American programming because it's the only way to get it. The Canadian satellite system doesn't get the American stuff. The piracy isn't motivated by greed as much as a desire to circumvent censorship.

But the culture is now going to be driven underground. I personally think the old openness made life quite easy for DirecTV because it was simple for them to track the ability of the pirates. Whenever the pirates developed a new scheme, DirecTV would know as soon as the other pirates.

The downside is the hackers were quite brazen. It's got to hurt the pride of the company to watch these pirates yapping about the latest techniques for stealing the signal.

I wouldn't be surprised if DirecTV pushes for even more draconian laws that punish people that even talk about how to break their systems. That's what the DMCA is all about. This may be a short sighted victory for them because many of their television shows are filled with descriptions of how to break other laws. Rape, robbery and murder and the basis for many plots on the movie channel. Do they really want to make it illegal to discuss ways to make mischief?

I'm curious to hear what predictions the Kuro5hin Klub has for the future of the scene. Will it dwindle away when cut off from the open advertisements on the Internet? Or will the secrecy give the marketplace the same added intrigue that makes druggies seem daring and cool?


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Satellite TV
o Should stop aiming radiation at my house if they don't want me to decode it. 67%
o Is just 700 channels of the same dreck. 26%
o Should build a better security system. 2%
o Should be protected because creators deserve protection. 2%
o Helps artists so stop stealing, you pirate scum. 0%

Votes: 151
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Kuro5hin
o the Canadian Supreme Court banned people from receiving DirecTV and other foreign signals.
o Here's a long, 15000 word piece full of background.
o Also by clion999

Display: Sort:
Will New Canadian Law Stop Satellite Hacking? | 87 comments (20 topical, 67 editorial, 0 hidden)
Spectrum (4.66 / 6) (#4)
by dennis on Fri May 03, 2002 at 09:28:32 AM EST

Canadians aren't allowed to receive* U.S. transmissions on that frequency? Hmm, I wonder if they're allowed to transmit their own stuff on that frequency, then? Or if this U.S.-based company will complain if their signals leak into the U.S. (causing interference), just as the U.S. signals leak into Canada?

No such transmissions allowed, I'll bet. I wonder if any Canadians are pissed about the U.S. stealing their spectrum.

* (by receive, I mean with decryption, without which you might as well not bother)

Oh please (5.00 / 4) (#50)
by tzanger on Fri May 03, 2002 at 02:42:34 PM EST

The American's aren't stealing shit -- they have their birds in space and we have ours; they transmit on the exact same frequencies but come from a very localized source which is why you see Johnny Sixpack cursing about nudging his new dish around in 32nds of an inch to try and get the damned signal.

My opinion is that if you don't want us having the information don't fucking send it to us. Sure it's a technological problem for you to "shape" your target area but hey, you're the one pulling in millions of dollars in revenue, not me. I have the same opinion of encrypted cable tv or internet traffic or phone conversations. Do a good job or be ready to put up with the possibility of someone snarfing it.

And it wasn't DirecTV who put this legislation through, it was Bell ExpressVu; they were pissing and moaning that they were losing $400M because people were choosing the grey-market American programming over their stuff. I own an ExpressVu system myself and frankly if some of the bullshit tactics they pull affected me (sports "zoning", 16 copies of the same movie on PPV, etc.) I would ditch them too. It really doesn't effect me because I like my regional channels, TLC and Discovery and the radio stations.

[ Parent ]
You are a twat. (1.27 / 36) (#19)
by tombuck on Fri May 03, 2002 at 10:09:27 AM EST

Kindly attempt to refute this claim.

Give me yer cash!

It's begun (none / 0) (#73)
by WheeSplat on Sun May 05, 2002 at 01:12:57 AM EST

The slow process of turning Kuro5hin into Slashdot has begun. May you rot in hell.

[ Parent ]
Maybe not (none / 0) (#77)
by bgarcia on Mon May 06, 2002 at 07:23:21 AM EST

I thought Rusty had no qualms about simply deleting such posts?

[ Parent ]
Don't respond in kind (none / 0) (#85)
by SporranBoy on Tue May 07, 2002 at 11:02:33 PM EST

Wish the fellow a pleasant day, otherwise you are giving in to him.

I agree with you that there is a refreshing level of civility at Kuro5hin and an absence of blindly ragin nut jobs.

You and I can help to keep it that way.

That guy is spoiling for a fight. Don't give him what he wants.

[ Parent ]

Let's debate the culture of piracy. (4.77 / 9) (#39)
by westfirst on Fri May 03, 2002 at 01:11:31 PM EST

Okay, I'm going to try to get the discussion back on track and away from debate over word choice.

I continue to be fascinated by the high price that some people will pay to "steal" DirecTV. This isn't spelled out in this piece, but it is in the long 15000 article provided for background. (See above) People routinely spend $600 to $1000 a year buying new cards and new software to "steal" a service they could buy for as little as $30 a month.

Granted, these prices aren't for the same thing. $30 buys a lot, but it doesn't bring the pay-per-view, the extra movie channels, and the porn. Getting a magic card is one way to keep the porno from your monthly bill and paper trail.

And part of the problem is that Canada won't let its citizens buy anything from DirecTV now. So the illegitimate magic cards are the best Canadians can do. They get in trouble whenever they want to pay.

Can anyone shed a bit more light on the culture of piracy? Is it all just a rational decision to circumvent censorship and lack of privacy? Or is there something cool to the game? Is it just a way to feel alive again in a world that just wants us to shut up, sit down, and pay the monthly cable or satellite bill?

I know a couple people... (4.75 / 8) (#41)
by BushidoCoder on Fri May 03, 2002 at 01:19:07 PM EST

... who will pirate anything just to steal from the content corporations. It doesn't matter what it is. If you had a special system that did nothing but deliver nonstop Golden Girl reruns, they'd spend a vast fortune and innumerable hours finding out how to hack into it.


[ Parent ]

Misinformed (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by thesk8ingtoad on Fri May 03, 2002 at 05:34:05 PM EST

Cracking of DTV services is actually quite cost-effective, if done correctly. One can pick up the dtv equiptment for $50, an unlooper for about $60, an emulator for $5, and a computer to run the software for about $10. This makes a $125 investment for a more or less permanent source of entertainment. The only people who end up paying hundreds or thousands of dollars a year are those who don't know what they're doing. While this my not make it "right" it does make it a nice alternative.
If you build a man a fire, he'll be warm for a day. If you set a man on fire, he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
[ Parent ]
Another problem with the law [IANAL] (3.25 / 4) (#42)
by Stavr0 on Fri May 03, 2002 at 01:26:00 PM EST

Basically the Canadian Telecommunications Act is violating the freedom of expressions of foreign satellite providers by denying them access to the Canadian audience, this is one aspect that could be fought under the Canadian Charter of Rights:
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication

- - -
All your posse are belong to Andre the Giant
No kidding YANAL (4.66 / 3) (#43)
by Kwil on Fri May 03, 2002 at 01:33:00 PM EST

Foreign providers have no protection under the Canadian Charter. Why? Well.. it could be because they're not Canadian.

[ Parent ]
Everyone means everyone (5.00 / 2) (#46)
by Stavr0 on Fri May 03, 2002 at 01:54:39 PM EST

It could be because they're not Canadian.

Some sections of the Charter mention 'Citizens of Canada' i.e for the right to vote, but most clause use the word 'Everyone'.

If DirecTV opens a branch over here (say DirecTV Canada) then they would be protected under the charter. As an added bonus, it would grant them access to Canadian courts to prosecute 'signal thieves' hiding in Canada (I don't like the term 'pirate' in that context--if you ain't out at sea, it ain't piracy.)
- - -
All your posse are belong to Andre the Giant
[ Parent ]

"Signal thieves" is worse (none / 0) (#81)
by tekue on Mon May 06, 2002 at 08:59:36 AM EST

Canadian courts to prosecute 'signal thieves' hiding in Canada (I don't like the term 'pirate' in that context--if you ain't out at sea, it ain't piracy.)

Well, "signal thieves" is even worse, as nobody's stealing something from anyone. Maybe in a hundred years or so, people will learn, that copying information without permit is not stealing — it's quite precisely copying without permit. I thing that the term both close to reality and easy to read could be "illegal copiers" or "unlicenced copiers".

That isn't trying to define if it's good or bad to copy data without permit, it's just that it isn't stealing, because nobody has less goods, yet someone has more. And no, owners of the copy rights do not loose anything, they just don't gain anything either.
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]

I give up ... (none / 0) (#84)
by Stavr0 on Mon May 06, 2002 at 04:39:47 PM EST

Well, "signal thieves" is even worse, as nobody's stealing something from anyone.

I have to agree, "If it ain't missing, it ain't stealing". There still isn't an accurate description of the act of accessing information you are not entitled to... Copywrong?
- - -
All your posse are belong to Andre the Giant
[ Parent ]

Just one problem... (4.00 / 1) (#56)
by Mysidia on Fri May 03, 2002 at 05:14:00 PM EST

Having the freedom of the press and other media communication doesn't necessarily mean laws that control signal-broadcasting are a violation of any rights.

They are, after-all, restrictions on the use of public property (the space near earth the signal goes through)

Just because you have the freedom to express yourself in front of a bunch of people doesn't mean the government has the legal obligation to supply you with the means to do it, ie: you don't have a right to a microphone, electricity, and an auditorium full of people to hear you

Nor do you have the freedom to walk into peoples homes and shout your message (which broadcasting a signal is, essentially): Broadcast signals bombard everyone with electromagnetic waves (the messages).. no, you can't hear it, you need a mechanical/electronic device for that, but not being able to physically perceive it doesn't mean the signal isn't there.

It's in the government's interest to control the mediums to ensure that they can sell the privilege of using it to big corporations for millions and make them only use the channel to say what the government wants them to say.

In my opinion.. this is wrong, I think the spectrum should be as free as air, with never any limitations on receiving signals, and ideally minimal limitations on sending signals (except for ones that follow a long path through the air).

I view the appearance of the Internet as the closest thing to that which has happened so far.. the signal's almost free, it can go around the world a few times, and it's easy for many to get access to it... only problem: bandwidth = bottleneck.

-Mysidia the insane @k5+SN
[ Parent ]
But remember (5.00 / 2) (#58)
by xriso on Fri May 03, 2002 at 06:07:19 PM EST

The Canadian Charter is not nearly as strong in its declaration of "rights" and "freedoms" as, say, the US's equivalent.
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
[ Parent ]
Can't get programming any other way? (3.00 / 1) (#69)
by Sc00tz on Sat May 04, 2002 at 08:07:02 PM EST

What can't they get? My brother recently got a place and I set up his Bell sat system for him. I didn't see anything that they couldn't get that I could in the states, except for stuff that's probably only available to DirecTV subscribers. In that case I can't get it in the US either, unless I get DirecTV.

-- http://scootz.net/~travis

DirecTV problems (3.00 / 1) (#72)
by Graymalkin on Sun May 05, 2002 at 01:04:00 AM EST

One of if not the prime difficulty AFAIK about Hughes or EchoStar offering legitimate service to Canadian customers is the fact their respective birds are in US owned orbital slots. Doing so would be illegal according to international convention for them to broadcast to Canadian receivers on the frequencies they are using. The Clarke belt is split into specific regions according to your ITU region on the ground. The space above ITU 2 is split up for use by ITU countries in the region. The US is assigned orbital arcs from 62 to 103 and 120 to 146 degrees west longitude, Canada is assigned 104.5 to 117 degrees west longitude. They share their orbital positions with Mexico and the US shares with South America. Sharing an orbital arc means you can transmit on the same frequencies from the same orbital arc. The Hughes DBS bird at 101 degrees and EchoStar's at 119 can't have spot beams covering all of Canada because of these orbital restrictions. This is why DirecTV and Dish don't just go and offer services to Canadian audiences.

Both companies would also have to comply with Canadian broadcasting law in order to have service there. If say there was a Canadian law requiring all broadcasters selling to Canadian audiences to carry an all ice hockey channel or all Toronto Blue Jays channel Hughes and EchoStar would have to comply. If a US law was passed requiring that no Blue Jays games were to ever be broadcast ever, there would be a big problem for both these companies and possibility of a thermonuclear war with our backwards Canadian neighbors. It might not come to that but one can see how conflicting laws can adversely affect a company with a multi-national presense. This is why Playboy doesn't have a branch office in Saudi Arabia.

Hacking alive and well in Jamaica (none / 0) (#86)
by SporranBoy on Tue May 07, 2002 at 11:15:47 PM EST

I've been down in Jamaica a lot lately and DirecTV piracy is a healthy source of income for many locals.

Doing things the "wrong way" is THE Jamaican way and I doubt they would subscribe if there was DirecTV rep on the island ( God help us if the Jamaicans ever channel their resourcefulness into legitimate activities ).

Apparently DirecTV reduced signal strength to Jamaica and I know a guy who started welding his own outsize dishes to compensate.

NO (none / 0) (#87)
by dirvish on Sun May 12, 2002 at 04:19:02 AM EST

To answer your question: Will New Canadian Law Stop Satellite Hacking?
No, a law will never stop any type of hacking.

Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
Will New Canadian Law Stop Satellite Hacking? | 87 comments (20 topical, 67 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:


All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!