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Comcast Continues to Block Peer to Peer Traffic 283

Posted by Zonk
from the seems-to-have-a-hyperinflated-sense-of-self dept.
narramissic writes "A report released Thursday by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) finds that Comcast continues to use hacker-like techniques to slow down customers' connections to some P-to-P (peer-to-peer) applications. The EFF said that Comcast appears to be injecting RST, or reset, packets into customers' connections, causing connections to close. 'The investigators say that their tests confirmed an earlier one conducted by the Associated Press that showed that Comcast is interfering with BitTorrent traffic. BitTorrent is a protocol used to efficiently distribute the online transmission of large files, and some entertainment companies have partnered with its creators to distribute its content online. Comcast has said that it doesn't block BitTorrent, or any kind of content.'" If you're the type that always looks for a silver lining, Comcast's skulduggery may be pushing Congress to reconsider Net Neutrality.
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Comcast Continues to Block Peer to Peer Traffic

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  • by X0563511 (793323) on Friday November 30, 2007 @09:39PM (#21540365) Homepage Journal

    It is important to note, however, that we never prevent P2P activity, or
    block access to any P2P applications, but rather manage the network in
    such a way that this activity does not degrade the broadband experience
    for other users.


    So, they are not even coming close to telling you the truth!

    How exactly sending RST packets to peers doesn't fall under "prevent P2P activity" I don't understand.
  • by explosivejared (1186049) <hagan DOT jared AT gmail DOT com> on Friday November 30, 2007 @09:45PM (#21540409)
    It's far more sinister. They are spoofing packets by impersonating a p2p node. They are illegally interfering with their customers' service and don't have the guts to do it outright themselves.
  • Should be shot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by norton_I (64015) <hobbes@utrek.dhs.org> on Friday November 30, 2007 @09:46PM (#21540411)
    People who inject fake RSTs into network streams should be shot.

    This will lead to non-compliant network stacks which attempt to detect "bogus" RSTs and ignore them. And that cannot be allowed to happen at any cost.

    It is fine for them to drop packets. It is a dick move, of course, when they sold people the bandwidth and don't let them use it, but TCP/IP is designed to deal with packet loss, and treat it as congestion. Fragrantly violating the network standards that allow communication between different networks to interoperate is literally trying to destroy the internet, and cannot be tolerated.
  • Silver lining? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Loki_1929 (550940) on Friday November 30, 2007 @09:48PM (#21540427) Journal
    How is it a silver lining that Congress may reconsider Congressionally mandated Federal control over the internet in the United States?

    If there's one thing Congress and the rest of the Federal government have proven time and time again it's that the only thing they're good at is spending money. Everything else they try to do (ie. all the stuff they spend the money on), they can't help but fuck it up. Never heard the phrase, "Good enough for government work"?

    If you're in favor of Ted "Series-of-Tubes" Stevens and his band of merry men handing over control of the internet to the F "OMFG A DECISECOND FLASH OF BREAST!" CC, then I have to ask, why do you hate the internet?

  • by mdmkolbe (944892) on Friday November 30, 2007 @09:55PM (#21540469)

    Define "net neutrality". I don't want high-level goal oriented stuff. I want to know exactly what such a law would look like because frankly I'm skeptical that any net-neutrality law wouldn't just be full of vagueness, unintended consequences or be so limited as to be useless.

    Just saying "make the networks fair" doesn't make a good law, but that is all I've heard from the NN people. I want to be behind NN, but I can't as long as it is so ambiguous.

  • Re:Silver lining? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Entropius (188861) on Friday November 30, 2007 @10:00PM (#21540509)
    If there's one thing Congress and the rest of the Federal government have proven time and time again it's that the only thing they're good at is spending money. Everything else they try to do (ie. all the stuff they spend the money on), they can't help but fuck it up. Never heard the phrase, "Good enough for government work"?

    I think the interstate system, the university system, the Park Service, the management of national forests, public libraries, and a lot of other things work pretty well, and don't mind spending tax money on them at all.
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday November 30, 2007 @10:06PM (#21540559)

    They are illegally interfering with their customers' service

    Since you've been modded up to "5, insightful"- would you care to tell us what is illegal about it? Extra credit for references to specific federal or state laws or regulations.

    And, more specifically, if it is illegal, why this is (supposedly) pushing Congress towards net neutrality laws?

  • blockquote> i>And, more specifically, if it is illegal, why this is supposedly pushing Congress towards net neutrality laws? /i> /blockquote> For an overview check the wiki [wikipedia.org]

    Currently it is only violating net neutrality principles and is only a tort violation. So legality tends to depend on the judge. I come down on the side that is not QoS and patently violates net neutrality. So to me it is illegal and if I were a judge I would strike their actions. The reason it is pushing Congress is enough decent Congressmen like my beloved Rick Boucher (proud constituent of the 9th VA District) have decided to make this sort of thing statutory and not up to any fickle judge.
  • by merreborn (853723) on Friday November 30, 2007 @10:16PM (#21540625) Journal
    I'm not sure comcast is *that* sad to see you go. Their entire business model is based on overselling their bandwidth. Their favorite customers are those that pay $50/mo for internet access, and then only check their email.

    People like you and I, who actually use most of the bandwidth advertised, make Comcast little, if any profit. If all the heavy bittorrent users followed your example, comcast may well be able to cut their costs enough (with all the bandwidth savings, etc.) that they could stay just as profitable, if not more so.

    Think about it. They're already *cutting off* subscriptions of the heaviest users -- they're obviously not concerned about losing that business.
  • by jnana (519059) on Friday November 30, 2007 @10:18PM (#21540647) Journal

    It looks to me like Comcast is trying to mislead people into believing that they're saying:

    We don't interfere with P2P activity at all, so these accusations are completely baseless!

    But if you read the words carefully, you can see that following bullshit interpretation is a possible (albeit not the most likely) interpretation:

    We don't completely prevent P2P activity altogether such that you cannot ever download anything (completely) via P2P

    Which is fully compatible with the observed behavior of their tampering with it enough to cause problems and greatly reduce transfer speeds and increase transfer times for whole files, but it still being possible to use P2P apps for what they're intended for (albeit with much more hassle).

  • by BillX (307153) on Friday November 30, 2007 @10:35PM (#21540749) Homepage
    Simple, they just use disingenuous, lawyerly weasel words. They don't "block" the traffic outright (since some percentage of the packets are allowed through), they just interfere with it. It's like saying that to prevent people using my driveway to make u-turns, if I grease the road 100ft before and after it such that the cars trying to pull in just slide past, I've made it damn difficult to u-turn there but haven't technically "blocked" access to the driveway...
  • Re:skul what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Friday November 30, 2007 @10:42PM (#21540793) Journal
    That would indicate the old school way of doing things. Invisible and moving bandwidth caps and stuff like that. You know, Because when they tell you that your buying a 3 meg/second connection that is always on and you do something to always be using it, you have somehow robbed them.
  • Re:Good for them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Al Dimond (792444) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @12:42AM (#21541397) Journal
    Although you're marked as a troll, you're stating the honest opinion of lots of people and the opinion that shapes policy of many companies. So I'll bite. I think your characterization of BitTorrent users, looked at by the numbers, is probably true. While there are people using torrents to distribute content that's both legal and non-commercial (Free Software, for example), it probably makes for a pretty small percentage of the total. But that doesn't matter. The Internet is a network of peers. That's how it was designed, and I believe that's how it ought to stay. The more rights to communicate are gated by money and elitist policies the fewer voices contribute. You need to pay big bucks to get a fat pipe, but you shouldn't need to pay big bucks to get all the protocols. That's what the Internet means on a technical level. If you're not selling me that, you're not selling me Internet access, you're selling me "Web and Email access". If you want to offer that as a product, go ahead. But it's *not* true Internet access.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 01, 2007 @12:43AM (#21541401)
    You are still getting your file. Therefore the activity is not prevented, although the usage is being throttled.

    The AUP that every Comcast subscriber signs allows them to do this. If a customer is not happy with it, they should switch to DSL or get their own T1, or something to give comcast some real incentive to 'fix' the problem rather than just complain about it.

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @01:09AM (#21541543) Homepage
    FCC policy statement (FCC 05-151) August 5, 2005 [fcc.gov]

    (1) consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice;(2) consumers are entitled to run applications and services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement;
    I think inserting RST packets into the data stream would violate rule #2, and if the content is legal they are also violating rule #1.
  • by davidwr (791652) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @01:29AM (#21541641) Homepage Journal
    Blocking-by-default services which are abused by robots and which provide no value except to those who should know enough to ask for them makes a lot of sense.

    These days, that's outbound mail, outbound SMB/Windows-networking, and all inbound ports other than DHCP-related ports. However, any customer who needs to should be able to log into their ISP account and say "I run IRC, turn on relevant ports," "I run eDonkey, turn on relevant ports," or "I run XYZ, turn on relevant ports" or even "I'm an expert and I'll take responsibility for my own security, remove all protection and feel free to suspend my account at the first sign that any of my computers sends more than ___ messages in ___ period of time or is otherwise causing harm."
  • by Findeton (818988) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @06:37AM (#21542749)

    Please. Please, I'm ever so curious - do show me an "invite-only torrent site" with ratios that distributes all this legal torrent traffic everyone's always talking about. thelinuxisobay.org, perhaps? (Yes, I know TPB is not invite-only) or perhaps linuxisonoid.com?

    Forgive me, but if you're bitching about it screwing with your ability to illegally obtain things, my sympathy isn't all that high.

    Let me remember that downloading copyrighted material was, once upon a time, legal, and it was the industry, with the opposition of society, who illegalized it (yes, your democracy is crappy sometimes). They are criminalizing millions of americans, they are criminalizing a behaviour that is found natural and good by society. Basically, the industry is trying to adapt society to the industry's needs, when it should be the industry who adapted itself to society's needs. It's illogial and anti-democratic to prohibit a behaviour that an enormous amount of society does regularly and most of the people accepts as something good.

    You know? It freaks me out, because i'm spanish and here IT IS ABSOLUTELLY LEGAL to download or upload any copyrighted material, if you're not doing it for profit. Our particular RIAA and MPAA are pushing very hard to ban it but we won't allow it happen, not in Spain. And i can't help to think that if they finally win and downloading copyrighted material is banned, although at this moment 99.9% of our society knows it's a good thing to share culture in a non-profit basis, after some years, it would be easier to find people like you. They would have really won if that happens, because what they want is not banning downloading, what they want is to adapt society to their prehistoric economic model. I won't let them ban it in my country, because when i read you i see what we'd become, we'd start to fear sharing culture.

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