Saturday, April 12, 2008

Cease and Desist!

My ISP (Speakeasy) sent me a nice letter recently informing me the Eurpopean Union's copyright infringement division was displeased with me. The said that based on these allegations, I would be in violation of the Speakeasy Acceptable Use Policy. "How can that be?", thought I. I buy my music on iTunes, I do not partake in bittorrent, limewire or any other version of the now dead Napster (old school version not the new subscription based system) music/file-trading system Hell, I pay for stuff!. I have encoded all my purchased CD's and boxed them away but I keep them to myself. In fact I am a true supporter of "legitimate" digital music use via iTunes or any other service that, in some way, supports the artisits that create the music I love. This includes freely distributed music a la Radiohead.

So why was the European Union comin after me? Speakeasy's Tech Support and Security groups were very helpful in pointing out to me that they could track streams of file sharing originating at my IP address. So I thought deeply about this (for 2 seconds) and arrived at the most logical conclusion. My neighbors were connecting to me via Free The Net, the Meraki based San Francisco free wifi network and uploading/downloading music to their hearts content. I have 2 repeaters on my roof and 4 others in houses nearby providing firewalled access to the Internet. This made me sad. I was very pleased to provide an un-asked for service to my neighbors who may not have - or may not be able to afford - Internet access. I wrote to Meraki explaining my dilemma and asked of there was someway to restrict my neighbors from conducting file trading on my network.
People in my hood are sharing music over my wireless network and
abusing my speakeasy acceptable use policy. has warned
me that any continued abuse will result in disconnection of my
service. Therefore I must inform you that unless you can lock it
down so only port 80 is being used I will have to disconnect the
Meraki repeaters and access points from my network.

I am very sorry. This seems like a real shame. I was very eager to
participate in "Free the Net" but now I am a bit saddened that folks
are abusing it.

Please get back to me and let me know if there is anything you can do
on your end.

They replied back with...

Hey Bruce,

grr. that's really irritating. but actually what's surprising is that
we haven't had to address this issue so far. as far as blocking
everything but port 80: I don't think any of us would be happy with a web-only Internet connection, so that doesn't seem like a good answer. to me it seems the real solution here would be to figure out who the culprit is and block them.

I looked on your gateway and didn't see anyone transferring an
inordinate amount of traffic. do you happen to have any idea who it is? do you know if it is bittorrent they are using? maybe they are using a different gateway at least part of the time (probably mine, hehe).

next week I guess we can figure out how to set up the right counters on your gateway so that we can figure out who it is (any insight or additional info you can provide would obviously be super helpful). hopefully Speakeasy can wait that long. if you need to unplug, we understand, but leaving your repeater plugged into power would at least soften the blow.

So far they have found no way to track or stop the activity and I love my Speakeasy service. So I have no choice. Until such a time as I can trust my neighbors not to conduct activity that the European Union deems as illegal or until Meraki finds a way to filter this traffic out, I must disconnect my network from "Free the Net". I still have repeaters on my roof but they are no longer connected to my network, file traders now siphon off some other guys pipe or tube or truck that backs up and unloads Internet.
Comments and suggestions, as always, are very welcome.


  1. Whatever your countermeasures look like... They don't seem to work. Just found your IP address on a TV series torrent with the reverse lookup "" pointing to your webserver.

  2. You have to love these posts. No name, no address, no mention of which file he/she saw, no mention of which TV Series nor which IP address he saw. Just an, "oh, hey buddy, pwnd!" Great. Thanks for the assist.

    I just checked the processes on the server and there ain't nothing there. I am no longer on the the "Free The Net" so that is out. I also looked at all active inbound and outbound connections and see nothing. Then I reloaded the FW config. and double checked it to ensure no outbound connections. lastly, just to be sure I sniffed the outgoing Internet segment. Zero. 30 minutes of checking. I am clean. Waste of time.

    Just a tip for the rest of us out there as we surf from here to there. Hither and Yon. If you want to be helpful, then document your claims.

    Nothing to see here, move along.

  3. After some digging I found out what this person was seeing. I use a screensaver known as Electric Sheep ( which uses the bittorrent protocol to exchange "sheep" or 'screeensaver distributed components'. It is very pretty but it is not copyright infringing material. No file trading here. Sorry to disappoint.

  4. Argh. I'm probably the poor slob who is now delivering those infringing packets. I've been running a gateway for about a year, just a few blocks from you.I'm with who runs their own wifi mesh using Meraki, so hopefully my meraki's dedicated ip is hiding under their security umbrella.

    I read that these FTN routers have an ssh tunnel back to Meraki for reporting status. It seems to me that they could just as easily route ALL the traffic through there, too. That way they could have complete responsibility for the security.

    Thanks for supplying bandwidth to a worthwhile project.