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Comcast Sued Over P2P Blocking 268

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-us-pirate-music-at-a-reasonable-speed dept.
CRISTAROL writes "Comcast has been sued by a California resident for blocking BitTorrent and other traffic. 'John Hart describes himself as a Comcast customer who has seen performance hits when using "Blocked Applications" targeted by Comcast's traffic management application, Sandvine. In his complaint, Hart says that Comcast severely limits "the speed of certain internet applications such as peer-to-peer file sharing and lotus notes [sic]." Comcast accomplishes this by "transmitting unauthorized hidden messages" to the PCs of those using the applications.' The lawsuit comes on the heels of an FCC complaint over the same issue."
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Comcast Sued Over P2P Blocking

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  • by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @10:49PM (#21359163) Homepage Journal
    I'm not suggesting that this is the correct solution to the problem, but the thing you are describing is a "telecommunications common carrier", and extending that status to Internet access seems to be what you want.

    -Peter
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @11:16PM (#21359355)
    This story was broken by the Wired blog Threat Level, then re-written by Ars Technica hours later with no real attribution as to where it found the story. http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/11/comcast-sued-ov.html [wired.com] Please reward good journalism with attribution and traffic, instead of giving it to sites that make a habit of following on other outlets' stories without adding to the story.
  • Its about time... (Score:3, Informative)

    by deAtog (987710) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @11:54PM (#21359639)
    While not directly affected by Comcast's filtering policy, I for one hope this guy wins and sets a legal precedent on which other lawsuits against ISPs/OSPs can be based. As a student currently attending The University of Akron who resides on campus, I look forward to the day when EFF or ACLU pursues action against The University of Akron for violating student's rights in the same manner that Comcast has violated the rights of their customers. Shown here are some logs highlighted to show some of the filtering that is being done to students residing on campus. [uakron.edu] Not only is The University of Akron filtering Bittorrent traffic but also HTTPS, SSH, VPN, IMAP, NTP, and as well as many others that I may have missed. This filtering is not only intrusive to students that require secure access to remote resources, but is also counter productive to new innovation. I am appalled by the actions this, and many other, public institutions have taken towards the treatment of students and their rights online. For reference, the 130.101.239.250 address shown in the logs is that of my server. It is on 24 hours a day so feel free port scan it if you like. I suspect you won't be able to determine which ports are open due to all inbound traffic being blocked by the University as well.
  • Sandvine (Score:4, Informative)

    by kbahey (102895) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @12:27AM (#21359891) Homepage
    Sandvine is a local company here in Waterloo, Ontario. It has been a high flyer and a media/investor darling of late.

    The local newspaper had an article [baheyeldin.com], which I blogged about a few days ago, on Sandvine's technology and how it is involved in the Comcast debacle.
  • by grcumb (781340) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @12:52AM (#21360069) Homepage Journal

    Nobody really wants ISPs to be common carriers. Part of being a common carrier is that you are required to be content-agnostic. Think about what the Internet would be like if ISPs couldn't block customers for spamming, spreading worms, DoS attacks, etc.

    With all due respect, that's not really accurate. I wrote a 'Net Neutrality For Dummies' column [livejournal.com] in our local weekly, so I won't repeat myself unnecessarily. Suffice it to say that nobody minds having traffic rules. What we don't want is to have traffic rules that get selectively enforced according to the whims of a given Internet provider.

  • by jroysdon (201893) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @04:46AM (#21361455) Homepage
    The 'hidden' messages are spoofed (by Comcast) TCP RSTs (pretending to be sending packets from the bitorrent peer) which essentially stop the traffic until a new TCP session is built. Comcast calls it "delaying." Sounds more like a denial of service attack.
  • Re:Pay to steal (Score:2, Informative)

    by Pi Is A Rational (1106177) <emoaddict15 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday November 15, 2007 @09:16AM (#21363389)
    Fool. Change your filter from -1 to 0.
  • by Catiline (186878) <akrumbach@gmail.com> on Thursday November 15, 2007 @10:26AM (#21364433) Homepage Journal

    You are correct, and that is (according to statements provided by whistle blowers) what Comcast is doing: to wit, they block any upload greater than a few megs (2MB? 3?) from within Comcast's network to any server outside of it.

    The problem, however, is that people with "more legitimate" network connections than P2P -- such as the Lotus Notes mentioned in the summary, VPN connections, or file upload to public services (YouTube et.al.) are NOT going to be remaining in the local Comcast network, and their service is being disrupted as well.

    Really, the problem is that for Comcast, upload bandwith is more expensive/scarcer than download bandwith, but they sell their customer base the promise of "unlimited" bandwith, and now people are discovering interesting, new ways to utilize home upload bandwith....
  • by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday November 15, 2007 @10:43AM (#21364723) Journal

    Seriously?

    He made this same argument in another story about Comcast and stopped replying to posts when people asked him to name a few ISPs that do this.

    While I'm sure there are small remote ISPs that NAT their customers by default (and by remote I mean remote... think Alaskan wilderness), it's not even close to being a standard practice in the United States and the number of people affected by it are so small that it hardly bears mentioning.

    A few people have claimed that AOL does it. They didn't used to (over a decade ago I had them... always had globally valid IPs when I went outside of AOL and used internet apps), but it might have changed for all I know. In any case, I'd hardly call AOL an "ISP".

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