Skip to main content

AT&T Crippling Flashmob Organizer Backtracks

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.

Follow us on Twitter for more tech news and exclusive updates here.

  • thesmokingman14
    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!
    Reply
  • thesmokingman14
    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!
    Reply
  • Pei-chen
    Of 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.
    Reply
  • sunflier
    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.
    Reply
  • tommysch
    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
    Reply
  • tommysch
    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.
    Reply
  • jcknouse
    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.
    Reply
  • B-Unit
    Besides, if you can call and browse at the same time, calls shouldn't be affected right? Just data availability.

    Dont TXT 911 tho...
    Reply
  • bourgeoisdude
    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.
    Reply
  • itadakimasu
    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.
    Reply