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Comcast 'Blocks' an Encrypted Email Service: Yet Another Reminder Why Net Neutrality Matters ( 105

Zack Whittaker, writing for ZDNet: For about twelve hours earlier this month, encrypted email service Tutanota seemed to fall off the face of the internet for Comcast customers. Starting in the afternoon on March 1, people weren't sure if the site was offline or if it had been attacked. Reddit threads speculated about the outage. Some said that Comcast was actively blocking the site, while others dismissed the claims altogether. Several tweets alerted the Hanover, Germany-based encrypted messaging provider to the alleged blockade, which showed a "connection timed out" message to Comcast users. It was as if to hundreds of Comcast customers, Tutanota didn't exist. But as soon as users switched to another non-Comcast internet connection, the site appeared as normal. "To us, this came as a total surprise," said Matthias Pfau, co-founder of Tutanota, in an email. "It was quite a shock as such an outage shows the immense power [internet providers] are having over our Internet when they can block sites...without having to justify their action in any way," he said.

By March 2, the site was back, but the encrypted email provider was none the wiser to the apparent blockade. The company contacted Comcast for answers, but did not receive a reply. When contacted, a Comcast spokesperson couldn't say why the site was blocked -- or even if the internet and cable giant was behind it. According to a spokesperson, engineers investigated the apparent outage but found there was no evidence of a connection breakage between Comcast and Tutanota. The company keeps records of issues that trigger incidents -- but found nothing to suggest an issue. It's not the first time Comcast customers have been blocked from accessing popular sites. Last year, the company purposefully blocked access to internet behemoth for more than 13 hours.

Comcast 'Blocks' an Encrypted Email Service: Yet Another Reminder Why Net Neutrality Matters

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  • Hanlon's Razor (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Notabadguy ( 961343 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @05:49PM (#56249103)

    Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

  • When contacted, a Comcast spokesperson couldn't say why the site was blocked ...

    Everyone knows you call Comcast Customer Support to get answers.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When I use Comcast, I use a VPN.

  • Under The New Rules (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    An ISP has to disclose any traffic shaping. The fact that Comcast would not comment shows to me that it was a mistake. Net neutrality hasn't even expired yet but even if it did, this still would be illegal without disclosure if done intentionally.

    • by jd ( 1658 )

      Cutting the cables of rivals is also illegal, and Comcast has been in court for it.

  • The headline "Comcast 'blocks' an encrypted email service: Yet another reminder why net neutrality matters"

    followed by "Now imagine your favorite websites getting blocked by your internet provider in the name of net neutrality."

    Does TFA present substantive information supporting this conclusion?
    Does TFA itself make the leap of asserting Comcast blocked Tutanota?

    Yet there is the headline and intentional smearing and weasel conflation of Comcast and Net Neutrality to fit pre-ordained narratives and stoke outr

  • Maybe the site was only partially blocked. Which raises the question when can we know a site is actually wholly blocked...
  • This will be an interesting situation. I've worked in networking for more years than I would like to say. And the mantra is: The network is broken. There is a number of reasons this connection could have had an issue and it has nothing to do with blocking traffic. DNS services, multiple routes converging, new hard installed, there is a number links in this chain. I just want to see now how many times this will come up. What will an ISP have to do to "prove" there is no blocking? Would you trust what

  • Yes! This type of abuse is wrong and something should be done about it.

    This is monopolistic behavior. If Comcast had to compete with anyone (WHICH THEY DO NOT!) they would never be able to get away with this sort of behavior.

    Look, we've been down the road of more and more regulation before. How well did that work to prevent the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe? How about the Housing Market collapse of 2008/2009? I know setting up a group of regulators who big business can easily cozy up to makes you
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Jut ran into an issue today with accessing web sites. Determined it was a DNS issue. When I switched my DNS server to (google), the site was available from my browser.

    Ended up on the phone with support for two hours trying to convince them it was their DNS server issue, and not my browser, router or modem issue.

    • Why bother? Leave it at and wait for them to sort it out. Every couple of days, switch back to their DNS and see if they untossed the domain salad.


      Broken DNSSEC at the gov't.

  • This is shoddy reporting at best. Hiding behind the quotes on "block" is below cheap shot level. Where are the useful questions? Were any other sites affected? Did anyone take a traceroute anywhere? Why do any work when you can pull in clicks with a sensationalist headline and spurious conclusions?
  • by mbaGeek ( 1219224 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @10:11AM (#56251981) Homepage

    to point out the obvious. Whatever the problem was, it wasn't because of "Net Neutrality" legislation. Or if Comcast weighs more than a duck - then Net Neutrality matters!

If a thing's worth having, it's worth cheating for. -- W.C. Fields