Print 20 comment(s) - last by jkostans.. on May 23 at 11:44 AM

  (Source: thenextweb)
Judge is upset at telecom's decision to turn over records early, forces records to be destroyed

Need your privacy protected?  Don't count on Verizon Wireless.  The joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD) has wound up in an embarassing situation after it shared a bit too much information in the latest extortion attempt by big media's hired legal hitmen.  

"Malibu Media LLC" an alleged "copyright troll" started the mess when it accused five "John Does" operating on Verizon Wireless networks of file-sharing movies via bit-torrent.  It obtained a subpoena for their records, in an attempt to gain access to the users' information for use in a threats-for-cash scheme.

Faced with the subpoena, Verizon Wireless happily threw customer privacy and trust away, handing over the privileged information.  The only issue was that Verizon Wireless did not follow due process -- one of the defendants had filed a challenge and Verizon Wireless was supposed to wait until a judge ruled on that challenge.  Instead, Verizon Wireless handed over the records five days before the ruling.

Verizon Guy
Verizon is happy to hand over your private info to legal threat firms. [Image Source: VZW]

The carrier's overzealous approach became more embarassing when one of the defendants's lawyers convinced Magistrate Judge E. Thomas Boyle to issue a stay of the subpoena.  Now Verizon Wireless's actions were clearly in violation with the ruling -- the only question was how the judge would deal with it.

The Magistrate who rejected the subpoena opted to clean up the mess created by Verizon Wireless by ordering the records be sealed and ordering the Malibu Media law team to destroy the copies they received.  It has also forbid the media attack-dog from using those records in court, unless -- for some reason -- the decision to quash the subpoena is reversed.

The decision is an embarassing one for Verizon Wireless who now has to explain to customers why it possibly illegally violated their privacy.  Verizon Wireless may face civil liability for failing to adhere to due process and exposing its customers' records as well.  Federal laws protect the privacy of citizens' telecommunications records in the United States.

letters in mail
Threat letters -- a tactic beloved by Batman villains and copyright trolls alike.
[Image Source: IWillLetters Blog]

The firm that successfully defended the citizens against Malibu Media's belligerence was Ray Beckerman PC, a law firm located in the Forest Hills region of the Queens suburb in New York City, New York.  Mr. Beckerman's firm has been a staunch critic of big media's mafioso-esque threat schemes, sentiments he summed up in a recent piece "Large Recording Companies v. The Defenseless."

The U.S. legal system has grown wary of late of big media's perpetual attempts to extort citizens whose IPs were implicated in filesharing traffic.  Perhaps part of that shifting sentiment is due to recent widely known studies that show filesharers are the biggest legal purchasers of media.  

Or perhaps the growing wariness it is due to the fact that most of these threat schemes are based on internet protocol (IP) addresses -- an inaccurate means of identification.  Or perhaps it is also due to the fact that big media companies have been found guilty or stood accused in several regions of committing massive for-profit piracy schemes, seizing independent artists "unclaimed" work and then making it difficult for them to collect their revenue.

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bye Verizon
By lagomorpha on 5/22/2012 10:29:14 AM , Rating: 3
First they're slowest to market with new phones, then they end unlimited data, now this. My contract just expired, thinking switching to T Mobile. Anyone have good experience with other carriers?

RE: bye Verizon
By JasonMick on 5/22/2012 10:59:29 AM , Rating: 2
First they're slowest to market with new phones, then they end unlimited data, now this. My contract just expired, thinking switching to T Mobile. Anyone have good experience with other carriers?

Merely anecdotal, but I have had a good experience (thus far) with AT&T.

Coverage in my area is generally on par with other carriers, although my typical internet daytime location is an unfortunate exception.

That complaint aside, the customer service phone reps have been much more friendly and informed on average than those I dealt with at Sprint.

AT&T's reps were U.S. based, where at least once I was routed out of the country (it seemed) by Sprint's system.

Sprint's reps were also quite belligerent to me when I tried to get them to remove fraudulent premium SMS charges. Previously published reports indicate that Sprint gets kickbacks for each fraudulent premium SMS (just like any premium SMS).

By contrast, I received what I believe to be one of these fraud texts on my AT&T handset, and AT&T automatically detected it, removed it from my bill, and according to a phone conversation (on another issue) with them blocked the number. That's a word better than Sprint, who essentially supported and condoned me being defrauded for their own profit, until I threatened to take legal recourse. I didn't have to do anything, and AT&T had my back, which was night and day difference from Sprint.

I liked Sprint's unlimited data, but AT&T has better customer service and handset selection in my experience. And they haven't tried to defraud me -- not yet, at least. :)

RE: bye Verizon
By Pirks on 5/22/2012 3:33:20 PM , Rating: 1
AT&T also has one of the lowest price prepaid plans in the country. Maybe not absolutely the lowest but I pay $12.50 a month for 125 minutes and I'm very happy with the service.

RE: bye Verizon
By DT_Reader on 5/22/2012 4:19:07 PM , Rating: 1
At that rate AT&T's Go Phone is 10 cents/minute. That's what I pay for my TracFone (which uses the AT&T network), but I'm not required to buy 125 minutes/month. I can use as little as I want, which saves me plenty. Of course, that's just voice and text (3/10 minute/text message) - your needs may vary. The only time I'm out of WiFi range is when I'm driving, so I don't need 3G or 4G.

RE: bye Verizon
By Pirks on 5/22/2012 7:46:37 PM , Rating: 1
Nah, TracFone is from 15 to 30 cents a minute, way too expensive. No one beats AT&T's 10 cents a minute IMHO.

RE: bye Verizon
By Denithor on 5/23/2012 8:12:06 AM , Rating: 3
Actually, someone does:

Page Plus Cellular operates on the Verizon network and offer a $12/month prepaid plan that gives you 250 minutes, 250 text messages and 10MB of downloads. That works out to less than 5 cents per minute for the air time and limited text/internet thrown in free.

RE: bye Verizon
By Arsynic on 5/22/2012 10:59:07 AM , Rating: 2
Too bad that coverage at the other carriers isn't that good. It's the only reason I'm with Verizon.

RE: bye Verizon
By Denithor on 5/23/2012 8:14:25 AM , Rating: 2
Ditto, zero coverage from AT&T and T-Mobile at my house.

Check out Page Plus Cellular, I made the switch a month ago and am saving $35/month on my service with an equivalent plan.

RE: bye Verizon
By Darksurf on 5/22/12, Rating: 0
RE: bye Verizon
By Denigrate on 5/22/2012 11:57:48 AM , Rating: 3
TMO is considerably less customer friendly than they used to be. I still use them as I don't use enough minutes to warrant a monthly plan, and so use their prepaid service. End up paying about $100 a year for my cell.

RE: bye Verizon
By nolisi on 5/22/2012 12:09:40 PM , Rating: 2
I've been a T-Mobile customer on and off for 11 years- I switch to AT&T a few years back because they offered a better deal at the time and I was free of my contract. My thoughts:

AT&T CS definitely sucked so I switched back. T-Mobile was always gracious with me and always exceeded my expectations for customer service even when I did something stupid.

Case in point: I needed a replacement T-Mobile G2 as mine was unable to charge. I'm not sure if I tweaked the USB connector or if it was defective, but it was under 90 days old and so I called it in under warranty and they sent me a brand new G2, overnight. I was stupid and didn't send back the "defective unit" in 30 days as agreed. They billed my account for the extra phone. They removed the charge once I called in with a tracking number for the phone I was returning.

More recently: after noticing I was paying more than their latest contract offers, they not only adjusted my account to take advantage of new lower rates, they gave me a month free of charge plus an additional $10 discount per month- without renewing my existing contract.

I'm still upset that they took away unlimited data, but I'm now paying $60/month for unlimited talk, text, and 5GB of data with tethering. In my case, I've been a customer for a decade on and off.

Coverage has never been a problem for me- and I've travelled a bit. On my most recent trips to LA, NY, and Palm Beach, FLA, I had zero issues.

RE: bye Verizon
By 1ceTr0n on 5/22/2012 3:15:06 PM , Rating: 1
I was with Verizon for several years but recently I really wanted a Galaxy Note bad and when my research basically indicated that Verizon was never going to get it, I ditched them last month, switched to AT&T and got my Note. Had to pay an early termination fee and give up my unlimited data plan which I hardly ever used but the Note is so worth it.

Amazingly, I know have 4g speeds with AT&T in my state wereas Verizon is STILL stuck in 3G land up here, so I netted a nice speed increase for switching. So far i've only had 1 dropped call in a month and customer service has been pretty good for the few issues and question i've had, either via phone or online chat.

Coverage has been good, I haven't travelled out of state yet so I can't comment beyond that. With 4g, I quickly ate up my 300meg data plan, so I had to switch to 3gig which is more then enough for my needs as I mostly stick with Wifi at home or at coffee shops when im surfing the web on my phone.

In short, with Verizon pulling all this new crap and apparently not even getting the new SIII either, I don't regret saying goodbye to them, they obviously don't really care much about customer satisfaction, its all about the money to them now

RE: bye Verizon
By Reclaimer77 on 5/22/2012 4:00:30 PM , Rating: 2
Umm you say Verizon is slow to the market with new phones then ask about T-Mobile? T-Mobile doesn't even OFFER new phones, especially top end models. And if they do, it's some fuc#$ed up version of it with downgraded internals. T Mobile's phone selection is just ABYSMAL.

The T-Mobile version of my phone for example, the Galaxy SII, doesn't even come with the Samsung Exynos processor like every other carrier!

So with T-Mobile they either don't have the phone you want, or if they do, it's some gimped version of the phone. Brilliant.

RE: bye Verizon
By lagomorpha on 5/23/2012 10:09:03 AM , Rating: 2
T Mobile has had the HTC One S available for weeks and Verizon cant seem to even list a date for when they will offer the Incredible 4g or Droid Fighter (whatever theyre calling it now).

RE: bye Verizon
By greywood on 5/23/2012 12:06:11 AM , Rating: 2
I don't do smartphones, but have had Excellent experience with T-Mobile for nearly three years. I'm on their "pay as you go" plan. I get 1150 minutes for $100 and that has lasted me for close to a year each time. That beat the Heck out of an AT&T land-line in about six months.

RE: bye Verizon
By jkostans on 5/23/2012 11:44:12 AM , Rating: 2
Do not switch to T-Mobile, they are scam artists. I was hit with a $150 fee and an additional 2 months in bills when I terminated service with them. I was not under contract yet they screwed me anyways. Customer service will just hang up on you if you begin to show any signs of frustration, and you can never get a hold of anyone significant. And good luck going through the BBB, they obviously don't care about their rating.

only stupid americans
By anandtech02148 on 5/22/12, Rating: 0
Just delaying the inevitable
By Beenthere on 5/22/12, Rating: -1
RE: Just delaying the inevitable
By smackababy on 5/22/2012 3:22:08 PM , Rating: 2
Except this wasn't for convicting criminals, it was for sending threatening letters to extort money from suspected pirates.

I sure am glad I live in a country willing to let 1000 guilty people go free so 1 innocent doesn't get convicted. Now if only the media wouldn't paint people as guilty regardless of the verdict and ruin lives of those found not guilty.

RE: Just delaying the inevitable
By bigboxes on 5/23/2012 8:09:18 AM , Rating: 1
Tell us more, Gomer.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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