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Europe's 'Net Neutrality' Rules Fail to Ban BitTorrent Throttling ( 81

Europe has finally agreed on a set of net neutrality rules. According to a report on TorrentFreak, these rules offer improvements for some individual members states, various activist groups and experts. But the current language would also allow ISPs to throttle BitTorrent traffic permanently if that would optimize overall "transmission quality." From the report (edited):"Europe's new net-neutrality rules should ban throttling BitTorrent, but they don't. They leave ISPs a loophole," said Holmes Wilson of Fight for the Future (FFTF), one of the driving forces behind the Save Net Neutrality campaign. "ISPs can say they're doing it for 'traffic management' purposes -- even when their networks aren't clogged, because the rules say they can throttle to 'prevent impending network congestion,'" he adds. In addition to file-sharing traffic, the proposed rules also allow Internet providers to interfere with encrypted traffic including VPN connections. Since encrypted traffic can't be classified through deep packet inspection, ISPs may choose to de-prioritize it altogether. In theory, ISPs may choose to throttle any type of traffic they want, as long as they frame it as a network congestion risk. "So if your ISP is lazy, or wants to cut corners and save money, they can throttle BitTorrent, or VPNs, or Bitcoin, or Tor, or any class of traffic they can identify," Wilson says.
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Europe's 'Net Neutrality' Rules Fail to Ban BitTorrent Throttling

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  • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2016 @12:44PM (#52413973)

    There's a difference between bandwidth hogs and bandwidth abusers. I prefer they could spend a little effort to discern the difference.

    • stupid finger, that's supposed to be an O not an S

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      Looks more like regulatory capture to me. We gave the government the power to determine the details of net neutrality, which is to say we gave them the power to throttle traffic the government doesn't like, since the ISPs will throttle everything the government lets them.

      Copyright lobbys dump cash on government officials, and suddenly it's OK to throttle BitTorrent. This is my surprised face.

    • by guises ( 2423402 )
      What's the difference between bandwidth hogs and bandwidth abusers? The two terms seem pretty similar. Admittedly though, I haven't spent much effort to discern the difference.
  • Sounds like that's what Europe got.

    The laws I hate the most are those which claim (by their name) to protect something and are actually craftily written to do the exact opposite.

    Another win for moneyed interests by lobbying.

    There are many examples. This is one of them.

    • It's the same net neutrality we have.

      They can implement QoS. If they can implement QoS they will prioritize some traffic.

      Net neutrality says they can't prefer their own voice service over other voice services. It says nothing about making all packets the same priority.

      Q: Who would have guessed that giving government authority to regulate a complex issue would have unintended consequences?

      A: Many of us. We were called corporate suckups for not supporting giving government more power.

      • Well, someone was to set the rules. Government or Corporations.

        Yes, this result is not perfect, but it is way, way better than what we'd have if we let corporations decide what packets to prioritize instead.

        • Clearly, you like bad rules and government power.

          Competition can and does solve this problem. But that would cut government power, so no chance of that.

          • What competition? There is now a competition between ISPs? Where?

            In most areas, there is a monopoly or at best a duopoly, simply because running an ISP requires a lot of customers to be viable.

            • Where you likely have 1 DSL, 1 cable, 4 4G networks (sold through a dozen channels) and 2 satellite (consumer level ISPs). Plus several more expensive, higher bandwidth wired options.

              ISPs were viable 20 years ago, the market will support 4 or 5 today. The market has grown.

              The price/data you pay is much lower than it was even 10 years ago. Prices that have been driven down by competition.

          • Clearly, you like bad rules and government power.

            So, in a choice between "throttling BitTorrent" vs. "throttling BitTorrent and video providers who don't pay 'protection money' to the cable company" you prefer the latter?

            'Cause those are the choices. Magical non-existent "competition" is not a choice. Imaginary benevolent ISPs who don't throttle anything is not a choice.

            • Competition gets me more bandwidth for the same price, pretty much every year.

              I posted the list of ISPs in most areas. There is clearly competition. If there wasn't, we'd all still be paying $20+/month for dialup. The only reason anybody ever cuts prices is competition.

  • by CajunArson ( 465943 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2016 @12:47PM (#52413987) Journal

    Net Neutrality is a word that's used & abused to mean everything these days, including calls to make it illegal to charge for bandwidth usage (imagine how much Hummer H2 owners would like "gas neutrality" to make sure Prius owners pay just as much as they do).

    In this case, it would only really be a violation of a stricter definition of "net neutrality" if there were select content providers that were given unfettered bittorrent access with no limits while other non-preferred sources were being throttled. If you want to throttle the whole stupid protocol to keep the network operating for useful purposes and don't make specific carve-outs for "preferred" users then it's not a violation of net neutrality.

    Bear in mind that if you want any throttling of bittorrent to be made illegal, it's hard to see how preventing DDoS attacks at the network level or even filtering Spam could be considered legal.

    • by CBravo ( 35450 )
      And maybe spamfiltering should be forbidden at that level. Because the entry in that field for companies is very hard. You can't buy your own spamfiltering for Google, Hotmail or ISPx. And something else is at play too: ISPs don't give much for your email. They rather overblock than underblock. It is often seen as a cost only. 50% of ISPs do a poor job at filtering.

      One example: I would like a DMARC test in my spamchecker. Good luck convincing your ISP if they don't have it.

      But to come back to your ar
    • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

      it's hard to see how preventing DDoS attacks at the network level

      I believe the vast majority of DDoS attacks could be trivially blocked outbound from the source if ISPs performed egress filtering on their end-user networks that check to make sure the packet leaving their network has a source address that is inside their network. Many of these attacks involve using spoofed requests to DNS servers and other "reflector" services that return a large amount of data to what it believes is the source IP. It is h

    • by guises ( 2423402 )
      There isn't much difference between allowing the prioritization of protocols and allowing the prioritization of hosts. If you allow the first but not the second, then the ISP just comes up with its own proprietary protocol and gives that special privileges. Net Neutrality boils down to "all packets are treated the same way."
      • Not in any real world governing body it doesn't.

        And it shouldn't, that would be _stupid_.

        Net Neutrality has difficult implementation details. Now we have laws around those details, so mistakes will take decades to fix, if they are ever fixed.

      • That would be awful. It's natural for real-time data like a phone call to have higher priority than a video stream that's buffered far in advance. To not prioritize different protocols would be irresponsible management of the network.
        • by guises ( 2423402 )
          That would be exactly how the internet is now. The fact that Skype calls don't get priority may lead to a bit of stuttering now and then, but if it weren't for that fact then Skype wouldn't exist in the first place.
  • Also funny how a bitcoin logo is being used in a story about bit torrent.

    But that's the technical competence level of the Slashdot "editorial" staff, who once again make the case for why the federal minimum wage should be lowered.

    • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

      "So if your ISP is lazy, or wants to cut corners and save money, they can throttle BitTorrent, or VPNs, or Bitcoin, or Tor, or any class of traffic they can identify," Wilson says.

      • One glancing mention of Bitcoin, despite it using very little bandwidth even for miners, and we get the Bitcoin logo?
        Storing the full block chain takes a not-insiginifcant amount of storage, but not everyone needs to do that (though they should, in my opinion, as that's half of the POINT of Bitcoin). However, the full blockchain only needs a small amount of additional storage (and thus bandwidth) as it grows. It can take a while to download the whole thing when you're first starting, but once you have it

        • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

          It's an issue for new users that choose to get the whole block chain. The more Bitcoin gets popular, the more ISPs get of those users. As you say though, once you have the whole thing, it takes little bandwidth. Maybe the editor just likes to put as many icons as he can on stories.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      People keep complaining about the editors being incompetent. Has anyone considered that there are no longer any editors at all and that it's all just rubber stamping and automation now? Even stories seem to be automatically submitted by particular submitters who run other news sites and blogs. There is little to no human intervention anymore, and the quality of the site shows it.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm not in Europe. But I'd hate if they throttled VPN. I work from home fairly often (one day a week at least) and if they just up and throttled VPN I'd be far less effective at you know - performing my job. It isn't like all VPN access is for pirating or even region shifting (which dammit should be OK). Some of it is just plain WORK. They can't tell the difference - they don't know what the data is in the VPN tunnel. So they shouldn't mess with it.
  • Counterproductive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2016 @12:52PM (#52414051) Homepage

    The only effect that blocking filesharing traffic will have is that people will find ways to disguise filesharing traffic as normal traffic and it ends up adding additional bandwidth overhead for the disguising.

  • "So if your ISP is lazy, or wants to cut corners and save money, they can throttle BitTorrent, or VPNs, or Bitcoin, or Tor, or any class of traffic they can identify"

    Of course, the regulated corporations will tend to outsmart the regulators.

    The only thing that keeps businesses providing good services and offering quality goods is competition...

    • Internet, at least the last mile, is a natural monopoly, or duopoly at best. It doesn't make any sense to have dozens of different companies laying cables to your house and compete to get you as a subscriber. Therefore there will never be real competition.

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        Internet, at least the last mile, is a natural monopoly

        "Natural monopoly" is a myth []. A very convenient myth — for both the monopolists and the government officials seeking to profit from them [] — but a myth nonetheless.

        • The Mises Institute is the very same organization that has, repeatedly, praised Somalia for its lack of a central government and supposedly free market, leading to enormous facepalm for the rest of the libertarian world. Surely you could have found a better link to support your point.
          • by mi ( 197448 )

            praised Somalia for its lack of a central government

            Citation needed.

            Surely you could have found a better link to support your point.

            Why? Because ad hominem is now a valid argument?

            The article [] I linked to — by Thomas DiLorenzo [] — was written in 1996 and has been cited by economists quite often since then [].

            Surely you could have come up with a better rebuttal.

        • You think it would be efficient to have dozens of different water systems going to your house?

          • by mi ( 197448 )

            You think it would be efficient to have dozens of different water systems going to your house?

            Dozens? No. Two or three? Yes. Excluded middle [] much?

            • Two or three would be an oligopoly, just like ISPs in most places. Not a competitive market.

            • And no, two or three water systems wouldn't be anymore efficient than a single one. How is a second or third player supposed to enter the market exactly? Digging in all streets?

    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2016 @01:21PM (#52414329)

      You're cordially invited to start an ISP. Preferably where the likes of Comcast have a monopoly. Please do.

    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      Which is exactly what EU regulations have already achieved. There's a choice of at least 3 ISPs in most places, and that has already solved the problem of throttling a decade ago. Net neutrality would be just an unnecessary regulation when the market is already regulating itself just fine.

  • So they can decide what is congesting the network at will. That is pretty much a free-for-all, and as some said here, the opposite of net neutrality. I can see why the UK wants to leave the EU now: with phrasings like this for "net neutrality" bills, it goes to show how EU legislation has room for improvement on legislation. Shame that the reference nation on the English language is now abandoning the union. Furthermore, I would like to know how this affects users who are using paid for services that inten
  • If an (I)SP prioritizes traffic by type, blocks ports, performs DPI or otherwise fools with bits, then they are not providing an internet service. They should be prosecuted under truth in advertising laws and be forced to call themselves AOL or Compuserve.

    Politicians and bureaucrats cannot count these "service providers" when assessing internet availibility and competition.

  • Europe's new net-neutrality rules should ban throttling BitTorrent, but they don't.

    You idiots still do not get it, do you.

    What Net Neutrality "should" do from the standpoint of those making the rules, is allow compete dictation of what is and is not allowable by government agencies... they same ones that would rather see bit torrent vanish.

    Net Neutrality as a concept is one of the biggest jokes of all time, and the funnies part is the joke is really on those whole clamor for it most, expecting the opposite

    • You think that's worse than ISPs giving their own traffic preferential treatment and throttle all competing traffic?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I was agreeing with you until the end when you gloated about your wealth. Now you just sound like an asshole.

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by SuperKendall ( 25149 )

        The point there is not how well off I may be, but how in general there's a class of people making these rules that are immune from the effects so they literally do not have to care about how everyone else suffers.

        I also say that to explain that I have some distance from the outcome, so that I can be more truly neutral about it than others would be.

        If I came off as an asshole it's because I am extremely pissed off at much of the technical world making everything worse while pretending to make things better.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          But your asshole comment wasn't directed at any cause, and the shock didn't help anything but instead it made me not care what you had said previously. You just gloated that you didn't care because you could afford something others couldn't. It wasn't about anyone else, it was about you showing your own elitism. Now you try to backtrack and downplay the comment by blaming others, but your comment had the opposite affect of what you now claim.

  • To minimize network collisions you build a fatter pipe.

    A more simple rule you will not find.

    Obviously the EU is letting the service providers and entertainment industry write the rules

    • by dave420 ( 699308 )

      It's more to do with an ISP who offers a streaming media service throttling the competition's media services. It's about forcing ISPs with conflicts of interest to ignore those conflicts and act in the best interest of the customer. The EU has nailed that part fantastically, and has helped consumers massively with this legislation.

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2016 @03:07PM (#52415231)

    net neutrality only guarantees that the source or destination of your data does not cause your data to be throttled. if they want to throttle all video traffic, they can do that. what they can't do is throttle video traffic from site X while not throttling it from site Y.

  • by phorm ( 591458 )

    The VPN part worries me more, since there are lots of legitimate uses - even business uses - for VPN's (there are legit uses for BT - such as game updates etc - but there's less of a case than VPN).

    I remember being on Bell in the east (Canada) and noticing that whenever I opened up an SSH connection to work my traffic would slow to a crawl after a short while. Not just my SSH traffic, but *everything* else as well was being throttled. If they're going to start slowing up connection just because they *might*

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