ISP Bizarrely Warns Customers That Torrenting Could Disable Your Smart Thermostat

Digital pirates who illegally download and share copyrighted material could be in for a chilly winter, or something like that. Not because of hefty fines, mind you—though that is always a possibility when it comes to file sharing copyrighted content—but due to throttling that could impact the functionality of smart thermostats, among other Internet-connected gadgets, an ISP has been warning some customers.

The letter comes from Armstrong, a private cable, telecommunications, and Internet service provider operating in the Northeastern part of the United States. It has around a million broadband subscribers, some of which are being warned of the consequences of repeated illegal downloads. While it's not clear how many people have received the letter, it seems that Armstrong is focusing on customers who have multiple infractions.

"Please be advised that, if Armstrong receives additional notifications of infringement connected With your Zoom Internet Service, Armstrong will remove you from your current service level and place you at the lowest service level. This will allow you to access email, but limit your speeds and affect your ability to upload or download material to the internet or use other file-sharing capabilities," the letter states.

Nobody wants to have their Internet service throttled, though to drive the point home, Armstrong spells out some of the implications of degraded Internet speeds, including the inability to control a smart thermostat remotely.

"Please be advised that this may affect other services which you may have connected to your internet service, such as the ability to control your thermostat remotely or video monitoring services," the letter continues.

On the surface it seems a bizarre thing to specifically point out smart thermostats, though keep in mind the location. Armstrong serves customers in the Northeastern section of the U.S. where winter has brought with it snow and cold weather. Messing with home heating can have all sorts of implications, from frozen pipes while away on vacation to chilly pets.

Customers who have been accused of piracy and had their service throttled can regain full service (and control of their thermostats) by answering some copyright questions and reading educational material on copyright infringement.