[free-sklyarov] US/FBI Plans More International Terror Raids Against File Swapping
jei at cc.hut.fi
Thu Dec 13 04:05:10 PST 2001
U.S. plans new raids on file swappers
By Robert Lemos
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
December 12, 2001, 4:15 p.m. PT
update Federal officials said new raids targeting Internet "warez"
groups are in the works following the largest U.S. crackdown on
Internet piracy in history this week, including potential strikes
outside the country.
"This is only the first step," said Kevin Bell, spokesman for the
nation's customs agency. "The investigation is ongoing."
The U.S. Customs Service, along with the U.S. Department of Justice,
on Tuesday raided universities and high-tech businesses in 27 cities
as part of an international crackdown on underground groups that
actively trade in illicit copies of software and digital media.
Dubbed "Operation Buccaneer," the enforcement action occurred
simultaneously in four other countries, where an additional 22 search
warrants were issued, resulting in the arrests of nine people.
None of the suspects in the United States have yet been arrested.
"This investigation underscores the severity and scope of a
multibillion-dollar software swindle over the Internet, as well as the
vulnerabilities of this technology to outside attack," Customs
Commissioner Robert Bonner said in a statement.
In the first overt action of a 15-month investigation of such
organized groups of pirates, the Customs Service targeted the oldest
and largest group, known as DrinkOrDie.
"We are targeting these groups that do it all the time," said Customs
Service spokesman Bell. "If you are at your house one night and you
want to get a free copy of some software, that's not what we are
Search and seizure
Customs agents seized 129 computers in the 38 searches nationwide,
said Bell. Among the data captured were Web sites with so much pirated
media that it took 4,000 pages to list the titles. Another seized
system had more than 5,000 movies, including the blockbuster "Harry
Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."
"The data was available to millions of people all over the world,"
said Bell, who added that another 15 countries may take part in the
Members of the DrinkOrDie group included corporate executives,
computer network administrators and students at major U.S.
universities who regularly uploaded copy-protected software and
digital media to be broken by other members of the group.
There are perhaps as many as 10 major warez communities such as
DrinkOrDie. And they don't do it for profit, said Bell.
"They believe in a free Internet," he said. "They don't want any rules
or any laws that inhibit what they do."
Warez (pronounced "wares") describes software and digital material
that has been stripped of anti-copying protections and made available
on the Internet for downloading.
Because the amount of data and evidence that the Customs Service must
sort through is so large, Bell said he expected arrest warrants for
subjects in the case would take two to three months to obtain.
Hitting the right target?
At least one computer security expert criticized the government's
crackdown, saying it focuses on the wrong people.
"There are two kinds of people pirating software: the kids, and the
people who are stamping out 5,000 copies in Taiwan and selling them
for $5 a pop," said Bruce Schneier, a well-known encryption expert and
president of network protection company Counterpane Internet Security.
The warez groups are typically students and computer aficionados
having fun and testing themselves by breaking programs--generally, on
a power trip, Schneier said.
"Throwing the book at these guys is the wrong thing to do," he added.
The Customs Service, however, maintains that the problem is more
Responsible adults are said to be involved, not just students. And the
techniques that the loose-knit community uses to ensure their security
are advanced, said Customs Service spokesman Bell.
"They communicate over really secure IRC channels; they have rules,
certain ways that people can become members," he said. "They are
competing against each other to see how fast they can copy a piece of
software and get it up on their site."
The Business Software Alliance (BSA), which represents the software
industry's interest in Washington, D.C., agrees that warez sites are
as big a threat as "true" pirates.
"You could have a good debate over who is hurting the industry more,"
said Bob Kruger, vice president of enforcement for the BSA, which has
estimated that the software companies lost $2.6 billion in 2000 to
Although downloading programs from the Internet doesn't necessarily
have a one-to-one correlation to lost sales, Kruger stresses that
there is definitely harm suffered by the industry.
"Whether it's 10, 20, or 50 percent, it is part of the marketplace,"
he said. "We worry a lot about the destruction of the marketplace on
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