The FCC announced that it will investigate complaints against Comcast for disrupting BitTorrent traffic. Then again, it wasn’t a formal announcement, it was in response to a question posed by Consumer Electronics Association’s CEO Gary Shapiro in an interview before a live audience during the big electronics expo. “Sure, we’re going to investigate and make sure that no consumer is going to be blocked,” is what FCC Chair Kevin “Pretty Boy” Martin said exactly. “Sure” is not a word one uses to make a strong statement. He may have just been playing to the crowd. C’mon, it’s CES, he knew if he said otherwise he could find a bunch of geeks sitting on his car in the parking lot looking to “reformat his harddive,” if you know what I’m saying.
The elite cyber-squad freedom fighters of the The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released findings today that Comcast does indeed meddle with peer-to-peer file sharing. They’re also giving away some software you can install to test your own ISP. The FCC still has yet to respond to complaints and reports of Comcast’s interference.
Net neutrality advocates are gathering momentum to take Comcast to the woodshed for an old fashioned populist beating. Comcast believes that deliberately destroying connections to the popular communications protocol BitTorrent amounts to “reasonable network management,” which the FCC permits. Advocates figure if they can’t ride the net neutrality pony to Congressional passage now, it will forever lie dormant in the stable munching on BitTorrent packet hay.
Advocacy groups and legal scholars filed a network neutrality complaint with the FCC today against Comcast, asking the government to issue a temporary injunction against the cable company that forces it to “stop degrading any applications. Upon deciding the merits, the Commission should issue a permanent injunction ending Comcast’s discrimination.” More importantly, the complaint asks the FCC to classify any blocking of peer-to-peer file sharing as a violation of the agency’s Internet Policy Statement, “four principles issued in 2005 that are supposed to ‘guarantee consumers competition among providers and access to all content, applications and services.’”
Trent: I’ll admit I had an account there and frequented it quite often. At the end of the day, what made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world’s greatest record store. Pretty much anything you could ever imagine, it was there, and it was there in the format you wanted. If OiNK cost anything, I would certainly have paid, but there isn’t the equivalent of that in the retail space right now. iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me.
Are you a Comcast user? Try visiting torrentfreak.com. Let us know if you’re allowed to see the page or if you get an error. A reader told us Comcast is blocking it but we want to check it out first. Update: looks like this is an isolated incident. Carry on.
Comcast told its employees to not comment when customers ask about recent reports in an AP article that it contracted BitTorrent sabotaging to a company called Sandvine, or to even discuss that a relationship exists between the two companies. Too bad that Barron’s financial magazine reported back in April that the two are in bed together:
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.
You may get customers who are contacting us with regard to several articles which were published recently, accusing Comcast of blocking or otherwise filtering customers’ Internet traffic. An in-depth AP story suggests Comcast is hindering our customers’ ability to use BitTorrent, a peer to peer file sharing program. If a customer contacts us to inquire about this, please use the following talking points.
Comcast is in heavy PR-spin mode this week following last week’s reports that they spoof customers’ computers to cancel peer-to-peer connections, and have been blocking corporate users from sending large attachments via Lotus Notes (that blockage was “fixed” last week, around the time this story broke). Comcast says that they don’t “block” anything but rather delay requests, and that it’s only done to improve overall performance for their customers.
Comcast uses its own computers to masquerade as those of its users in order to disrupt and throttle internet traffic—specifically the peer-to-peer kind—whenever it chooses, according to nationwide independent tests carried out by the Associated Press. A Comcast rep dances around the charge by saying that the company doesn’t “block” access to anything—but he makes no mention of throttling or disrupting connections to shape traffic, probably because if he did, he’d have to admit to it or blatantly lie.
Comcast is reportedly stabbing at the heart of the file transfer protocol BitTorrent by preventing users from seeding torrent files. Seeds are completed BitTorrent downloads shared with other users; without seeders, the BitTorrent protocol does not work, much the way a garden can’t grow without seeds. Comcast’s draconian throttling solution utilizes a program from Sandvine that affects all files distributed through BitTorrent, regardless of whether the shared file is an illegally downloaded movie, or a legal distribution of Linux. From TorrentFreak: The throttling works like this…