Legal dangers of hacking?

by rickrump on Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:08 pm

Since you all have products that expose the circuit boards of companies, e.g. Tweet-a-Watt, have you done any research on the legal position of producing instructions on how to "hack into" commercial products?

I am working on an idea of hacking a wireless security system to have an Arduino gather information from the control board and present it - possibly remotely - in a better format than a siren and a bunch of blinking LEDs. It dawned on me that this might expose me to some legal action.

Comments?

Rick
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Re: Legal dangers of hacking?

by richms on Tue Sep 21, 2010 9:27 pm

Nothing they can really do.

Correct use of the trademark to identify the product you are modifying.

Not violating any IP of theirs like some hacks like replacement firmwares etc.

May be violating the EULA of the user that does the hacking, but that's not illegal and probably is not enforceable either.

However if you are hacking a wireless security system, you may no longer be able to claim it as an approved system to get insurance discounts etc.

There are some DMCA issues with breaking stuff to do with restricting access to protected content, and that has been attempted to be applied to people doing ink cartridge hacking but you would have to look at the outcome of that since I lost interest in it.
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Re: Legal dangers of hacking?

by mitpatterson on Tue Sep 21, 2010 10:38 pm

also if it is anything wireless, the FCC might be able to get on you if you get reported, since it does have something to do with wireless communications.... it still surprises me that ladyada never got a warning or letter from the FCC for a certain jammer
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Re: Legal dangers of hacking?

by richms on Wed Sep 22, 2010 1:24 am

Also if there was a problem with mods of this type to things, then most car magazines would be up the creek with what they document which is really no different to what Limor does with the kit for the tweetawatt.
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Re: Legal dangers of hacking?

by tinsmith on Sat Nov 27, 2010 1:35 am

mitpatterson wrote:it still surprises me that ladyada never got a warning or letter from the FCC for a certain jammer


That would be why the images in her thesis of people going "hey why doesn't my cell work" are staged. It's using the device which would be legally problematic, particularly as it was framed in an academic context.

Protections on data are a little weird, conceptually. Some might even say that they can be inconsistent and harmful to the public interest. The schema for physical stuff is usually that you can have it be (a) a trade secret, in which you don't tell it anyone and hope they can't figure it out before you've made a tidy profit, or (b) you patent it, publishing ostensibly unique aspects for the public information in exchange for a temporary legal monopoly on exploiting the information.

It doesn't really work out that way, but then again the system was set up when the population was much less and when major research labs were rare to nonexistent. The system works great if we're talking about individuals or small handfuls of people working on budgets attainable by small handfuls of people. It breaks down quickly if it's expected to cover everything from individuals to entities like transnational corporations with resources exceeding that of most small nations (and a few large ones).
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