LEAKS: Insider Tells Us There's Proof Comcast Contracts BitTorrent Sabotaging To Sandvine

In the reports about Comcast’s disruption of traffic between customers using the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol, it’s alleged that Comcast outsources the traffic meddling to a third-party company called Sandvine. Publicly, and in an internal talking points memo leaked exclusively to The Consumerist, Comcast refused to comment on having any relationship with Sandvine.

A Comcast insider tells us, however, that in the Comcast trouble-shooting system there is a list of third-party vendors. Sandvine was on the list.

UPDATE: Damning Proof Comcast Contracted To Sandvine

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  1. NaughtyBitsGLiF says:

    Must be a Comcastic day today!

  2. therethinker says:

    I don’t get what’s the big deal. Are they really this much against BT? Is it worth all this?

    Can we all omni-carpet-bomb them somehow? Get 500 of us to do it?

  3. darkclawsofchaos says:

    @therethinker: thats brilliant, and if we all do it the same time, it could crash their servers, kinda like when the GTA servers crashed when the site first went up. the only problem is coordination

  4. bradanomics says:

    So I guess they are telling the truth when they say “We aren’t throttling BitTorrent”. They are telling the truth because Comcast isn’t doing it, Sandvine is. Nice.

  5. olderbudwizer says:

    Like other ISP’s, they USE or deploy Sandvine software in their network management tools. True, they don’t block access to torrents – what Sandvine does is recognize the patterns of bit streams and other characteristics of peer-peer flows, and based on the parameters the ISP has set it slows down your connection to a dribble. Most users get so fed up they give up – or the torrent program you’re using senses the throughput problem and drops itself. Their response is what my grandmom used to call “a little white lie”.

  6. Buran says:

    @bradanomics: If a work for hire is done for you, you’re in control of it. Just ask musicians these days…

    So no, they’re still lying.

  7. cobaltthorium says:

    What the fuck. They get accused, they lie. The AP story comes out, everyone hears about it, so they lie. Congress hears about it, so they lie. Insider tells the truth, I wonder what they’re next move is.

    I don’t care if the customer in question doesn’t know “what a bittorrent is”, they’re still going to get pissed off because they’re being lied to. Are they aiming for their feet, or do they assume their customers are just that stupid?

  8. delphi_ote says:

    @cobaltthorium: Neither. Comcast is a monopoly in so many places, they just don’t care.

  9. bradanomics says:

    @Buran:

    They are factually telling the truth. THEY (Comcast) is not doing the throttling. Sandvine is. Is Comcast responsible for it getting? Yes. But are they actually physically doing the throttling? No.

  10. m0unds says:

    this has been discussed on the broadbandreports forums for months.

  11. fairweather says:

    Hiding behind semantics is certainly not the best way to profess innocence.

    I’m personally more concerned with the methodology they employ, where to carry out this alleged (who are we kidding) disruption, they would need to impersonate their own user’s communication signatures.

    Net neutrality is one thing, but forging packets is quite the slippery slope.

  12. mconfoy says:

    the only part i hate of comcast is just their fucking guts. the rest i like.

  13. Buran says:

    @bradanomics: You didn’t get what I was getting at, I think.

    My example means that if you do a work “for hire”, you are acting in their name. They own your work, they can do what they want with it, you cannot control it. Because you have been directly paid and directly hired to do it by another entity, legally it is their work.

    In other words, Comcast IS responsible and is the one doing this.

  14. @therethinker: Why not just a mass exodus of customers similar to what I suggested before? Sudden loss of revenue is the only way to light a fire under the ass of a monopoly like Comcast.

    Here, I’ll re-iterate it once more:

    “Well, for some reason, threatening a company with loss of service is the only way to get them to budge. Posting it to a consumer support site seems to help even more as this has proven. And for those of us in monopolies when Comcast may be the sole provider of internet service, make the switch over to dial-up. If a company realizes that you’re actually willing to sacrifice all that bandwidth for better customer service, even if it means (God forbid) going to America Online, they will practically do whatever you want since it’s money out of their pockets.”

  15. twentysixzerozero says:

    I live about an hour and a half from Philly and Comcast is blocking seeding in my area. I can download fine, as a matter of fact I am getting great speeds sometimes well over 400Kb/s. The problems start when the file is downloaded and you are just seeding. I have plenty of peers but cannot connect to one. Thats when I fire up my VPN and I can seed with no problems.

  16. jerkius says:

    stop breaking the law and comcast will stop fucking with your internet connection. how hard is that?

    dont bitch and whine to me, you caused this to happen. your downloading of pirated material caused this to happen.

  17. enthreeoh says:

    Here’s a press release I found linked from a digg comment, Sandvine claims Comcast as a customer on April 8th.

    [www.sandvine.com]

  18. enthreeoh says:

    Here’s a link to the source since the sandvine link was just unresponsive for me.

    [www.reuters.com]

  19. Corydon says:

    1) Jerkius has a point. Yeah, BitTorrent has some legit uses. Yeah, there are a few people who ONLY use it for legitimate purposes. That’s how they stay in business: by skirting the law. But the vast majority of stuff that’s getting traded is pirated.

    2) My reading of the article was that Comcast wasn’t interfering with downloads, but just preventing people from flooding the upstream channel when others take stuff from them (I may be wrong). Now, I’m not a real geek, and I’m certainly not a lawyer, but that sure sounds like running a server to me, which is forbidden by the TOS for residential service.

    3) I think all the heavy BitTorrent users could vanish from Comcast’s userbase and Comcast would actually come out ahead. Yeah, they lose your $40 a month, but on the flip side, if you’re in the top 10% of users, that’s some big savings in bandwidth. I don’t think you’re going to pressure them that way.

    4) All that being said, Comcast has really shot themselves in the foot over this. They should have come right out and said what they’re doing, and why it’s good for the vast majority of their users (which it seems to be). Instead we get the denials, which just makes them look shady. Someone in PR needs to be fired.

  20. Buran says:

    @jerkius: Thank you for making unfounded assumptions about what other people are doing. Not. C’mon, you can do illegal things with http as well. So by your logic anyone who browses the web is a criminal.

  21. Leria says:

    I have to agree with Buran. jerkius is making a big assumption that what people download with Bittorrent is copyrighted works that they can get where they live.

    Personally, I limit myself to only downloading things that: 1. Aren’t available in the United States (Japanese games) and 2. Aren’t available at a fair price (most music, movies and games are not this, but I don’t download them because I would rather keep ANY popularity from them, to get the message through to the makers).

  22. Scortch says:

    I wonder if Comcast is getting a kickback from the RIAA and MPAA to do this? I mean we have already saw where the RIAA has hired outside help to do some nasty stuff.

    Yes, even though Sandvine is the creator of this software, it IS Comcast doing it as it’s their servers that’s running it.

    They are not throttling or blocking. It’s sabotaging the connection. Sending fake resets to each computer making it think the other end sent it, which aborts the p2p connection.

    That should be illegal. Pretending to be another computer in order to sabotage your connection.

    I don’t use Bit torrent and I know there is illegal activity going on on it, but there is also legit stuff going on and Comcast stooping to the level of scum to stop the illegal part isn’t right.

  23. anasa says:

    Anyone who plays World of Warcraft uses BitTorrent. Legally. Legitimately.

    Blizzard uses BT technology to serve patches and updates.

    IF what you’re doing with BitTorrent is illegal, then Comcast/RIAA/MPAA should seek legal recourse, NOT fuck over the people who might be using it legit (WoW, Linux downloads). Especially since the people who use BitTorrent all the time will realize what’s going on, and take steps to end-run around it anyway.

    Bottom line, all Comcast is doing is pissing people off. They’re not actually gaining anything.

  24. LinearBob says:

    JERKIUS, Are you aware of Ubuntu Linux? One of the ways in which Ubuntu is distributed is via BitTorrent. My ISP (Sonic.net) allows a reasonable upload speed for their DSL service. I have limited my upload speed to 30 KBytes per second, maximum, so I won’t choke Sonic or anyone else. But please understand that my seeding Ubuntu Linux Desktop 7.10 is a way of helping others download a copy of the 695 MegaByte ISO image in a reasonable time. Downloading Ubuntu is the preferred method of distribution of software that is perfectly legal to distribute. So far, in the past few weeks, I have uploaded about 15 GigaBytes consisting of small pieces of of the ISO image of Ubuntu Linux Desktop 7.10, after I downloaded the 695.8 MegaBytes file for my own use.

    You might want to try Ubuntu for yourself. Just go to the Ubuntu web site and look for the Downloads page. On that page, look for the Ubuntu 7.10 Desktop BitTorrent. When you click on the link, you will download a small executable from the Ubuntu web page. When you run that executable, it will start downloading the 695.8 MegaByte ISO image file. When your download is complete, you can use your CD burner software to burn the ISO file to a CDROM. That disk will be a “Live CD” of the Ubuntu Linux 7.10 Desktop and you can use it to try Ubuntu before you install it, or you can use it to legally install Ubuntu Linux 7.10 Desktop into as many machines as you want.

    By the way, while you are downloading the ISO, you should know that you will also be “seeding” and uploading the parts of the ISO file you already have to others who do not yet have them. THIS activity is precisely what Comcast is blocking by sending their fake Reset messages.

    So what is so illegal about uploading a perfectly legal file, even at a slow speed, that Comcast has to poison the file transfer with fake Resets?

    I think you should think again about your relationship to your ISP. It seems to me that you must be happy being like a cow. Periodically you click on a “Purchase” button, type in a credit card number, a shipping address, a billing address, and then you click on OK.

    If on-line shopping is all there is in your life on the “Net”, than you and a dairy cow have a lot in common.