Mobile industry excludes self from filesharing regulation

We'd love to help, but just can't


Mobile operators have kicked off the PR war against identifying those sharing files by revealing themselves as the ideal conduit for any kind of online crime.

The details come from the Mobile Broadband Group, which counts all the UK's operators as members and told ZD Net that mobile operators don't allocate IP addresses to individual users and therefore will have to be exempted from any legalisation requiring identifying copyright infringing users.

We got in touch with Hamish MacLeod, spokesman for the Mobile Broadband Group, who repeated the claim that operators "are not allocating one IP address per customer" and therefore "can't track back" without a database costing £35m to build.

The good Mr MacLaod is referring to the way that mobile operators provide internet access through a Network Address Translator (NAT). That means every Vodafone customer appears to the internet to be sharing a single* IP address, say 212.183.140.20, but internal to the network they have separate addresses, such as 10.47.192.31, and the NAT routes incoming data to the internal address that requested it.

The same mechanism is used by companies, originally to preserve IP addresses, but these days mainly as a security mechanism as the NAT will only route data that was requested from an internal user, blocking attacks from the internet automatically.

Given that network operators already store the location of every handset on the network and the details of every call and text - not to mention counting every byte of data carried - it might seem a small thing to record IP address allocations. But the operators we contacted admitted they keep no such records.

Not that it would cost £35m to add the capability - that figure was for the whole broadband industry, and includes notifying copyright infringers and even the reduced demand for broadband given the increased cost.

As it stands, though, a mobile connection would seem the ideal way to conduct illicit business online, be it illegal file sharing or hacking major governments - no one's watching you when you're inside the operator's space. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Venezuelan cardiologist charged with designing and selling ransomware
    If his surgery was as bad as his opsec, this chap has caused a lot of trouble

    The US Attorney’s Office has charged a 55-year-old cardiologist with creating and selling ransomware and profiting from revenue-share agreements with criminals who deployed his product.

    A complaint [PDF] filed on May 16th in the US District Court, Eastern District of New York, alleges that Moises Luis Zagala Gonzalez – aka “Nosophoros,” “Aesculapius” and “Nebuchadnezzar” – created a ransomware builder known as “Thanos”, and ransomware named “Jigsaw v. 2”.

    The self-taught coder and qualified cardiologist advertised the ransomware in dark corners of the web, then licensed it ransomware to crooks for either $500 or $800 a month. He also ran an affiliate network that offered the chance to run Thanos to build custom ransomware, in return for a share of profits.

    Continue reading
  • China reveals its top five sources of online fraud
    'Brushing' tops the list, as quantity of forbidden content continue to rise

    China’s Ministry of Public Security has revealed the five most prevalent types of fraud perpetrated online or by phone.

    The e-commerce scam known as “brushing” topped the list and accounted for around a third of all internet fraud activity in China. Brushing sees victims lured into making payment for goods that may not be delivered, or are only delivered after buyers are asked to perform several other online tasks that may include downloading dodgy apps and/or establishing e-commerce profiles. Victims can find themselves being asked to pay more than the original price for goods, or denied promised rebates.

    Brushing has also seen e-commerce providers send victims small items they never ordered, using profiles victims did not create or control. Dodgy vendors use that tactic to then write themselves glowing product reviews that increase their visibility on marketplace platforms.

    Continue reading
  • Oracle really does owe HPE $3b after Supreme Court snub
    Appeal petition as doomed as the Itanic chips at the heart of decade-long drama

    The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear Oracle's appeal to overturn a ruling ordering the IT giant to pay $3 billion in damages for violating a decades-old contract agreement.

    In June 2011, back when HPE had not yet split from HP, the biz sued Oracle for refusing to add Itanium support to its database software. HP alleged Big Red had violated a contract agreement by not doing so, though Oracle claimed it explicitly refused requests to support Intel's Itanium processors at the time.

    A lengthy legal battle ensued. Oracle was ordered to cough up $3 billion in damages in a jury trial, and appealed the decision all the way to the highest judges in America. Now, the Supreme Court has declined its petition.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022