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Comcast Sued Again over P2P Throttling 73

Posted by Soulskill
from the facing-a-torrent-of-legal-actions dept.
Dr. Eggman writes "Ars Technica brings us news of a disgruntled Washington D.C. Comcast customer who has filed a lawsuit against Comcast over claims of false advertising. The complaint seeks punitive damages, class-action status, and attorneys' fees. The customer claims Comcast advertised 'unfettered access to all the content, services, and applications that the Internet has to offer.' We discussed a similar lawsuit brought against Comcast by a Californian customer back in November, as well as the FCC investigation into Comcast's practices. While Comcast confirmed reception of the new lawsuit, they declined to comment on it directly. Spokesman Charlie Douglas was quoted saying, 'To be clear, Comcast does not, has not, and will not block any Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services, and no one has demonstrated otherwise.'"
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Comcast Sued Again over P2P Throttling

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  • But... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday February 22, 2008 @03:40AM (#22512552) Journal

    Spokesman Charlie Douglas was quoted saying, 'To be clear, Comcast does not, has not, and will not block any Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services, and no one has demonstrated otherwise.'
    But that's not what they're being accused of.
    Their spokesman gets an A for confusing the issue.
    • Re:But... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by snl2587 (1177409) on Friday February 22, 2008 @03:47AM (#22512580)

      Which is great, at least for Comcast.

      Their greatest strategy is to keep confusing the issue and trying to keep from clarifying differences because otherwise they have no case. Remember that there are still people who think that the internet is "a series of tubes" or the like, and it doesn't take much to get a judge to rule in their favor simply because he fails to understand the difference between "blocking" and "throttling", at least in internet terms.

      • Clearly, their attorneys have opted for the Chewbacca defense [wikipedia.org].
      • by KDR_11k (778916)
        It's not even throttling, it's spoofing (identity fraud?).
      • by clickety6 (141178)
        it doesn't take much to get a judge to rule in their favor simply because he fails to understand the difference between "blocking" and "throttling"

        See people, this is why we need car analogies !
        • by spun (1352)

          it doesn't take much to get a judge to rule in their favor simply because he fails to understand the difference between "blocking" and "throttling"

          See people, this is why we need car analogies !
          Well, yeroner, comcast didn't put the intertruck up on blocks, but it did disconnect the throttle.
      • It IS a series of tubes. If you're trying to explain how the network of interconnected nodes that we call the internet works - a series of tubes is a great straight-forward analogy that damn near everyone can understand. It's an analogy I used to use to explain concepts to grandfathers before that poor sod said it in front of a camera, and it remains true. Other points aside - the series of tubes mocking should stop. -GiH
        • by Lordpidey (942444)
          I completely agree. The "series of tubes" is probably the best and most accurate part of the speech he gave, the REST of the speech is what concerns me, he talks about waiting several days for an internet to be delivered.
    • by Atrox666 (957601)
      All this legal stuff is fine and good but the corporations own the courts.
      In technology we often overlook the low tech solution.
      What ever happened to pitchforks and torches for people like this?
  • ...they just throttle them into oblivion.
    • by NickFortune (613926) on Friday February 22, 2008 @06:36AM (#22513188) Homepage Journal

      Exactly.

      This is why any net neutrality proposal that allows traffic shaping is utterly worthless. Because an ISP can then take any protocol they like and throttle it back to one byte every ten centuries, and then say "...but we're allowed to do traffic shaping, your honour"

      • Isn't the answer to define block on a data particle level?

        "Did X action related to this policy block one or more bits of data? Yes or No."

        Take it out of the adjective "State of zero data throughput".

        • "Did X action related to this policy block one or more bits of data? Yes or No."

          mmm... but I don't think it works like that.

          This is where I wish I had a deeper understanding of networking protocols, but as I understand it, what happens is that that the receiving computer gets so many packets and then signals back to say "my buffer is full - don't send any more until I say so". Under normal use the receiver would then process the buffer contents, and then signal the sender saying, "next packet, please

  • Alternate reality. (Score:5, Informative)

    by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@p ... t ['ay.' in gap]> on Friday February 22, 2008 @04:06AM (#22512668) Homepage Journal

    Comcast does not, has not, and will not block any Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services, and no one has demonstrated otherwise.
    Of course [msn.com] they don't block [arstechnica.com] anyone's traffic [digitaltrends.com]. Why would anyone dare claim they would stoop to such low measures? Why, they're Comcastic [freepress.net]!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mapkinase (958129)
      here is [dslreports.com] the best report of how they do it in details that are more satisfactory to me. tag: Sandvine.
  • ... You'd think by now, instead of fighting all of these legal battles, they'd stop the throttling, instead of opening themselves to more costly law suits.
    • by oyenstikker (536040) <slashdot@sbyrne . o rg> on Friday February 22, 2008 @08:23AM (#22513668) Homepage Journal
      They probably did a cost analysis and determined that it was cheaper to deal with the lawsuits than to upgrade their infrastructure. There is little risk of losing their customers, because in most markets they have no competition.

      You can buy your natural gas from one provider and have it delivered by the one with the local monopoly on the pipes. Why can't we do this with internet connections?
      • by Darundal (891860)
        Yeah, but one does have to wonder, how many lawsuits were they thinking of dealing with? And even though they have a virtual monopoly currently in certain markets, said monopoly is not necessarily permanent, and whatever local groups they have franchise agreements with can decide to terminate their franchise agreement. Also, they might be fined by local authorities. This whole ordeal that they brought upon themselves could have very serious consequences for their future business.
        • whatever local groups they have franchise agreements with can decide to terminate their franchise agreement. Also, they might be fined by local authorities.

          It makes me wonder what we can do to help speed that process along. Maybe suing Comcast and the local government that gave them a monopoly would help?

    • by Blkdeath (530393)

      ... You'd think by now, instead of fighting all of these legal battles, they'd stop the throttling, instead of opening themselves to more costly law suits.

      Yep, you're right. A Slashdotter's analysis of their legal costs versus bandwidth and peering savings gains is more adept than the corporate lawyers and network engineers. You should fire off a resumee.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday February 22, 2008 @06:50AM (#22513236)
    You're arguing with Comcast about the words they used to describe their service? Do you know how that works in the UK?

    Unlimited 1. not limited; unrestricted; unconfined: unlimited trade.
    2. boundless; infinite; vast: the unlimited skies.
    3. without any qualification or exception; unconditional.

    4. (ISP Def. only) Confined within limits; restricted or circumscribed: a limited space; limited resources.)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by sc7 (1141597)
      Nowhere on Comcast's site, does it say "Unlimited". That was taken off years ago.
      • It wasn't the fact that they may have used the word "Unlimited" in their advertising, but that they were arguing over the definition of a word or phrase.

        In the UK at least, they seem to be able to stretch "Unlimited" to mean "Unlimited until you've used 1GB of data per day, in which time your upstream will be LIMITED, your downstream will be LIMITED, and you may be charged for excessive usage of this UNLIMITED (now LIMITED) service (Which, by the way, is LIMITED by the current usage of our backbone which
        • by Blkdeath (530393)

          It wasn't the fact that they may have used the word "Unlimited" in their advertising, but that they were arguing over the definition of a word or phrase.

          In the UK at least, they seem to be able to stretch "Unlimited" to mean "Unlimited until you've used 1GB of data per day, in which time your upstream will be LIMITED, your downstream will be LIMITED, and you may be charged for excessive usage of this UNLIMITED (now LIMITED) service (Which, by the way, is LIMITED by the current usage of our backbone which has FAR less bandwidth than we're selling, meaning you never, EVER get the speed you subscribe for). You could also be cut off for exceeding these LIMITS at any time, but that's ok because we already have the money for this year's subscription! ,,|,,"

          So pay for a connection with an SLA and quit whining.

          Oh, you don't want to pay several hundred or thousand dollars (pounds) per month for a few dedicated megabits? Then why are you complaining? You're getting consumer level service. You get what you pay for. Live with it or shell out for a real connection.

          • You missed the point by so much of a margin you could work as a government Spin-Doctor. Did you even read the first line?
            • by Blkdeath (530393)

              You missed the point by so much of a margin you could work as a government Spin-Doctor. Did you even read the first line?

              The ridiculous semantics of a frivolous lawsuit aren't my concern so much as why the lawsuit was filed in the first place and what the outcome of such suits will be. Do you really think the broadband providers will seriously change their ways and cease all traffic shaping efforts and allow truly unlimited pipes to the Internet at ever increasing speeds? Seriously? Or back in reality, providers will instead collectively change their ways, realize it's not a market they need to worry about grassroots compet

      • by Stray7Xi (698337)
        No but they do advertise as "Internet". RFC's define the internet, and since they are not handling TCP according to the RFC's, I'd argue they're not providing Internet. They're providing access to the Comcast network.

        reset (RST) must be sent whenever a segment arrives
        which apparently is not intended for the current connection. A reset
        must not be sent if it is not clear that this is the case.

        rfc 793

        In fact this is a problem already solved by ICMP packet type 3 (Destination Unreachable) code 13 (Communication Administratively Prohibited).

        But the problem is if Comcast labels it like it is, then applications may start presenting error messages of what it is. If people started get

    • by kellyb9 (954229)

      You're arguing with Comcast about the words they used to describe their service?
      Actually, when they were trying to sell their service to me, I believe they used the word, "Comcastic".
    • by AxoltAl (1155115)
      In Bizarro Cable Company World, UNlimited is to Limited as INFlammable is to Flammable To the cable company there's no difference in the meanings of each pair. As Inigo Montoya put it, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
  • Servers. Last I checked.. hosting your own email, telnet, httpd servers (I'm sure there are others - seems like it's most of the well known ports (1023)) wasn't doable using standard ports - both against TOS and directly dropped into /dev/null. If a judge won't understand/take into consideration the difference between throttling and blocking, I don't give them leeway regarding the loss of needing standard ports.
    • up to 1023.. forgot to do < manually
    • This is regional, unfortunately. I mean, it's good that it works in some places, and if you actually ask a tech, they'll say "we don't allow it," but I run an FTP server at home and it works just fine. I also had a web server up for a short while, but the upload speeds are too slow to make it worthwhile; it ends up typically oversaturating the connection.

      Technically they state that any "server" is against the TOS for the home connections, and that if you need "server" capabilities you should upgrade to
  • Is this going to get federal class action status if out of staters join in with the defendent? If not, count me in to make it federal.
  • I have Cablevision, and I have noticed that I was throttled after downloading torrent files. The interesting thing was that they throttled my upload speed only, which I didn't even notice until I tried to upload a file to a friend of mine and it was capped at 17kb/sec. I guess that isn't as egregious, and definately more surreptitious, which is why they probably have been keeping their throttling under the radar...
  • Yeah right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kimvette (919543) on Friday February 22, 2008 @11:56AM (#22516286) Homepage Journal

    Spokesman Charlie Douglas was quoted saying, 'To be clear, Comcast does not, has not, and will not block any Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services, and no one has demonstrated otherwise.'"


    So please explain to me why Linux distros were PAINFULLY slow to download until I implemented rules on my firewall to block RST packets?

    Tagging this article "getfios"

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