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AT&T Crippling Flashmob Organizer Backtracks

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 41 comments

Remember the flashmob plan hatched by Fake Steve Jobs? Well now Fake Steve isn't so sure about the whole thing.

Dan Lyons AKA Fake Steve earlier this week posted about "Operation: Chokehold." The idea was to have so many users crowd AT&T's network that the whole thing would grind to a halt. Naturally, this idea received a lot of attention from the media and, while Fake Steve has yet to receive direct word from AT&T, it seems he's having second thoughts about the idea.

In a post titled, "Is Operation Chokehold Illegal? Or just stupid? Should we do something else?" Dan writes that many have said the stunt could be illegal and that "Dear Leader might be facing years of prison time for his role in inciting this peaceful protest." Leaving aside the fact that he thinks taking down AT&T's network is a peaceful protest, Lyons does seem a little confused as to how to proceed. He's also not sure if he can stop it from happening anymore.

We presume that if AT&T believed the protest was illegal, they would have used that word in their statement about Chokehold.

Also for the record, from our point of view this is all just a joke that has spun out of control and gained a life of its own. We didn’t think anyone would actually do this. But now it’s on Twitter, and some kid has set up a Facebook group and it already has 1,600 fans. There’s even an opposition group on Facebook set up by critics of Operation Chokehold. They’ve only got 17 fans, but still.

The point is, I’m not sure we can stop this thing.

Anyone else think he sounds kind of like one those kids who advertised his or her birthday party on Twitter or MySpace and then realized what mistake it was when 400 people showed up and trashed the house? Yeah, me too. Read the whole post here.

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Top Comments
  • 23 Hide
    thesmokingman14 , December 17, 2009 12:29 PM
    TH is correct. There is nothing that is illegal about using your cell phone the way it was meant to be used. Besides, if it was illegal, you can bet that AT&T would have said it in their notice to him and the public. Although the attack seems similar to a DDoS attack, instead of one user inundating the servers, it's everyone using their phones at the same time to prove that the service is under par. It freedom of speech. GO FLASHMOB!
  • 21 Hide
    sunflier , December 17, 2009 12:36 PM
    Quote:
    Also for the record, from our point of view this is all just a joke that has spun out of control

    In other-words I don't want to go to prison.
  • 18 Hide
    tommysch , December 17, 2009 12:41 PM
    It is perfectly legal, AT&T are the one shoving Data plans down everybody s throat so they cant complain their slaves are using their phone accordingly.

    It has nothing to do with a DDoS from a legal standpoint, they are not bots, they are willing AT&T chained customers. The guy is merely using his 1rst Amendment rights.

    Down with AT&T
Other Comments
  • 23 Hide
    thesmokingman14 , December 17, 2009 12:29 PM
    TH is correct. There is nothing that is illegal about using your cell phone the way it was meant to be used. Besides, if it was illegal, you can bet that AT&T would have said it in their notice to him and the public. Although the attack seems similar to a DDoS attack, instead of one user inundating the servers, it's everyone using their phones at the same time to prove that the service is under par. It freedom of speech. GO FLASHMOB!
  • 21 Hide
    sunflier , December 17, 2009 12:36 PM
    Quote:
    Also for the record, from our point of view this is all just a joke that has spun out of control

    In other-words I don't want to go to prison.
  • 18 Hide
    tommysch , December 17, 2009 12:41 PM
    It is perfectly legal, AT&T are the one shoving Data plans down everybody s throat so they cant complain their slaves are using their phone accordingly.

    It has nothing to do with a DDoS from a legal standpoint, they are not bots, they are willing AT&T chained customers. The guy is merely using his 1rst Amendment rights.

    Down with AT&T
  • 14 Hide
    tommysch , December 17, 2009 12:44 PM
    Pei-chenOf course it is illegal. In the US it is illegal to block cellphone signals. How is blocking 80 million people access to emergency service not illegal? Stun like this won’t hurt the organizer or hipsters who participated. It will hurt those in car accidents, trapped in a fire or robbed.


    Nobody is talking about blocking any signal whatsoever. It is not the responsibility of the end user to keep the network up. They are acting within the normal boundaries of the stupid dataplan contract they signed.
  • 9 Hide
    jcknouse , December 17, 2009 12:53 PM
    Pei-chenOf course it is illegal. In the US it is illegal to block cellphone signals. How is blocking 80 million people access to emergency service not illegal? Stun like this won’t hurt the organizer or hipsters who participated. It will hurt those in car accidents, trapped in a fire or robbed.


    Under FCC regulation, it is prohibited to willfully and maliciously interfere with a signal.

    Under law, it is illegal to cause damage to one's systems or devices with intent.

    It is NOT illegal for a bunch of people to get on AT&T's network and send tons of data which cause it to be maxed to capacity.

    Otherwise, they would be filing suit against superbowl organizers, the City of New York for their New Years Eve celebration in the Times Square area, etc.

    Now if they were hacking AT&T's system and specifically targeting some of their routers or muxes on their fibre network, that'd be different.

    Personally, I think it's stupid to try and "flood" their network with data. AT&T is just going to make money from it with people who go over their plan.

    Go with the cheapest plan on the phone you can, and use it sparingly. Then get out at the end of the contract, and write the President/CEO of AT&T and tell them why they're losing your business.

    If you want to hurt a business bad? Stop spending money with them, and they will go away.
  • 6 Hide
    B-Unit , December 17, 2009 12:54 PM
    Besides, if you can call and browse at the same time, calls shouldn't be affected right? Just data availability.

    Dont TXT 911 tho...
  • -8 Hide
    bourgeoisdude , December 17, 2009 12:57 PM
    This would be amusing, if it weren't for the distinct possibility of preventing emergency phone calls via 911 and the like. If I were using AT&T, I wouldn't participate for that reason.

    Sure, you could argue it was AT&T's fault for your neighbor dying because the ambulence didn't get there in time, but even Sprint/Verizon/etc. would have network problems if every cell phone user in the area decided to use their phones at the same time.
  • -9 Hide
    itadakimasu , December 17, 2009 1:01 PM
    it would be illegal if you organized such a thing... it's going to hurt ATT users as much as ATT... I'd definitely give jail time if somebody disrupted millions of peoples service.
  • -6 Hide
    zelannii , December 17, 2009 1:12 PM
    TommySchIt is perfectly legal, AT&T are the one shoving Data plans down everybody s throat so they cant complain their slaves are using their phone accordingly. It has nothing to do with a DDoS from a legal standpoint, they are not bots, they are willing AT&T chained customers. The guy is merely using his 1rst Amendment rights.Down with AT&T


    Sorry Tom, knowingly participating in an organized protest that blocks access to public, municipal, or government services without first acquiring a permit IS most certainly against the law.

    Note the first ammendment protects speech and freedom to assemble. 1) speech is not unlimited. Vocally inciting a riot IS against the law, and successful challenges against that have been upheld by the supreme court. 2) since there's no organized assembly, and no permit issued for such, that clause does not apply. This has also been backed by the supremes.

    Participating in this event is tatamount to KNOWINGLY PARTICIPATING in an action that causes financial distress and denial of access to services. There can be clear financial lines drawn and numerous civil and criminal penalties will be brought down on those confirmed to be participants (and don't think for a minute that would be hard to do). AT&T also could simply issue a statement, via free text directly to all AT&T devices that the use of high bandwidth apps during that time period is forbidden, and doing so will void your contract with penaties, and then anyone who does participate, AT&T kicks from the network, and sends a big bill for their prorated balances.
  • 4 Hide
    Pei-chen , December 17, 2009 1:12 PM
    As mentioned earlier, hipster don't care they are hurting other people. Their woman's jean is so tight it is cutting off oxygen to their brain.

    This attack is no different than asking people to turn on all their electrical appliances and bring down the power grid or open all the faucets and deprive other of water. No network is designed to carry maxima theoretical load. You wouldn’t want to pay for the bill to build something so wasteful and inefficient.
  • 5 Hide
    bourgeoisdude , December 17, 2009 1:17 PM
    itadakimasuit would be illegal if you organized such a thing... it's going to hurt ATT users as much as ATT... I'd definitely give jail time if somebody disrupted millions of peoples service.


    Well, it wouldn't be illegal to participate--you're just using your phone as designed. Even if it were illegal, unless you were stupid about it (bragging on twitter/facebook about how you helped take the ATT network down, for example), how could they prove you were downloading that data and talking on your phone for the purpose of bogging down the network? Organizing it, as you point out, could be a different issue.
  • 0 Hide
    bydesign , December 17, 2009 1:17 PM
    To AT&T maybe (jailtime). In this country data service is not a right.
  • -4 Hide
    doc70 , December 17, 2009 1:18 PM
    The whole thing is pointless, you'll only get a crappier service for the duration of the whole thing.
    When you have issues with the network just complain as much as you can about it and have everybody do the same , zelannii has a point there.
  • 2 Hide
    Someguyperson , December 17, 2009 1:19 PM
    1600 vs. 17 I love how half of all of the fans opposing this are posting on this board today! I mean, there are enough people in that group for a basketball team and a half!
  • 1 Hide
    ravewulf , December 17, 2009 1:19 PM
    Well, if people are pissed enough they will definitely go ahead with it regardless if it was intended to be a joke (and that does seem to be the case). It's your own fault for not having a decent network, AT&T.
  • 2 Hide
    kategra84 , December 17, 2009 1:28 PM
    I can only imagine what the charges will be ? :

    Mr Smith browsed the web with his iPhone and dowloaded 200 mb of music of iTunes! This is a crime, we can not permit such a terrorist atack on our great nation. All customers that made more than 128 KB of trafic are accomplices to bringing a national service down, a service that the lives of our great american citizens depend on (cuz we are inteligent).Do not be fooled by right this people havehave. They only have the right to pay for theyr data plans!
    Long live AT&T !

    wake up !!!!!!!!!
  • 3 Hide
    dtm4trix , December 17, 2009 2:09 PM
    this whole thread is bleh!
  • -5 Hide
    dtm4trix , December 17, 2009 2:09 PM
    this whole thread is bleh!!
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