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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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  • skul what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by seanadams.com (463190) * on Friday November 30, 2007 @09:27PM (#21540287) Homepage
    Never ascribe to skulduggery that which can be adequately explained by asshattery.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      Seems like jackassery to me.
    • by domatic (1128127)
      But if they're engaging in fucktardery?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sumdumass (711423)
        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.
        • by cuantar (897695)
          This constitutes further proof that the large ISPs are living in the past.
          • by sumdumass (711423)
            Comcast has a history in this. Time Warner pulled some shit like this in the past. I remember getting a letter informing me I was above the average usages. It didn't say anything about disconnecting me but I thought it did and called back raising hell.

            You would think they don't understand the concept of "Average". so I explained it to them.

            And now that I think about it, you are right.
            • If the bandwidth is legal I don't see how they can cut your connection off. Lets say you were doing some project that requires sending lots of packets then what? So is other providers better than comcast.
    • by QRDeNameland (873957) on Friday November 30, 2007 @11:00PM (#21540879)

      Never ascribe to skulduggery that which can be adequately explained by asshattery.

      I believe that's known as "Shitcock's Razor".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2007 @09:29PM (#21540295)
    I think the problem may be due to their new cable modem hookup diagram [ripway.com].
  • by bizitch (546406) on Friday November 30, 2007 @09:35PM (#21540343) Homepage
    Here is the official load of crap you get if you bitch about it to them .....

    -- begin bunch of shit ---

    Thank you for contacting Comcast Cable Mark.

    Thank you for writing to us in response to reports about Comcast's
    efforts to manage peer-to-peer traffic on our networks.

    Mark, we have posted new FAQs on our Web site making clear to our
    customers the steps we are taking to protect the customer experience for
    all of our customers. You may access content related to this issue in
    the FAQ section of http://www.comcast.net/ [comcast.net]

    First, and most importantly, you should know that Comcast does not block
    access to any Web site or application, including peer-to-peer services
    like BitTorrent. Our customers use the Internet for downloading and
    uploading files, watching movies and videos, streaming music, sharing
    digital photos, accessing numerous peer-to-peer sites, VOIP applications
    like Vonage, and thousands of other applications online.

    Mark, we have a responsibility to provide all of our customers with a
    good Internet experience and we use the latest technologies to manage
    our network so that you can continue to enjoy these applications.
    Peer-to-peer activity consumes a disproportionately large amount of
    network resources, and therefore poses the biggest challenge to
    maintaining a good broadband experience for all users, including the
    overwhelming majority of our customers who don't use P2P applications.

    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.

    Mark, network management is absolutely essential to provide a good
    Internet experience for our customers. All major ISPs manage their
    traffic in some way and many use similar tools.

    Comcast believes we have a responsibility to our customers to provide
    this service. Network management helps us perform critical work that
    protects our customers from things like spam, viruses, the negative
    effects of network congestion, or attacks to their PCs. As threats on
    the Internet continue to grow, our network management tools will
    continue to evolve and keep pace so that we can maintain a good,
    reliable online experience for all of our customers.

    I understand you have some questions about Comcast's policies. You can
    view all of the Comcast Subscriber Agreements and Policies by visiting
    the Comcast Online Customer Support Center at http://www.comcast.net/terms/subscriber.jsp [comcast.net]

    On this site you will find the Subscriber Agreement, the Acceptable Use
    Policy, and other policies relating to your Comcast Service. You can
    also view our Privacy Policy Statement at http://www.comcast.net/privacy/index.jsp [comcast.net]

    Links to the Privacy Statement and Terms of Service are located at the
    bottom of every page at www.comcast.

    -- end bunch of shit --
    • 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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jnana (519059)

        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 tam

        • by cuantar (897695)
          The second way of reading it in your post is exactly how I understood it initially.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 01, 2007 @01:02AM (#21541511)
          They don't interfere with your downloading, they interfere with your uploading. You can download to your heart's content at full speed - I've seen my 7Mbit Comcast cable connection spike as high as 20Mbit for more than 30 seconds, while downloading particular things with 500+ seeders online. This is difficult with Windows due to the built-in connection limit, but it's very easy on Linux or Mac. I can download folders larger than 6GB in less than three hours, with an avg. speed roughly being around 700 - 750KB/s.

          It's when you go to make an upload connection to another peer. BitTorrent wouldn't work at all (uploading or downloading) if Comcast just shot your upload connections down from the start; instead, they kill it after 30 seconds. I've timed it hundreds of times, from the time I announced to the tracker - it's always almost exactly 30 seconds. Unless you hammer the tracker with manual announcements or have a client that's smart enough to reconnect the peer "just to see" if it "really wanted to reset", you can't upload more than for 30 seconds at a time without either hammering the tracker, or taking excessive measures (it's been discovered that reconnecting the client as if it were just announced, upon being dropped, while causing somewhat odd client behavior, will work around the problem).

          This is a serious issue if you're a member of invite-only torrent sites where you don't get to download unless you've uploaded enough; it's also a serious issue if a lot of Comcast customers happen to use your BitTorrent-distributed product.

          The "quality assurance" cover is completely bogus - that's not what's going on. First of all, they're not hampering my upload speeds, they're dropping the connection completely after a set amount of time. How, exactly, does my uploading stuff on BitTorrent affect other customers' experience? Increase the bandwidth bill maybe, but that's not what's going on... they could easily throttle the speed down, but that's not what they're doing.

          I used to work for an ISP. Uploading doesn't hamper other customers' experience - downloading does. I think it's more plausible that they're being paid to screw up private BitTorrent trackers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BillX (307153)
        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...
    • by seanadams.com (463190) * on Friday November 30, 2007 @09:40PM (#21540379) Homepage
      -- begin bunch of shit ---
      bunch of shit, Mark.
      Mark, bunch of shit.
      bunch of shit.
      Mark, bunch of shit.
      bunch of shit. bunch of shit.
      -- end bunch of shit ---


      But you've got admit, it's pretty cool how they address you by name throughout this carefully composed, personal email response made Just For You.
      • But you've got admit, it's pretty cool how they address you by name throughout this carefully composed, personal email response made Just For You.

        Yes, it's impressive how Comcast has turned the art of lying to one's customers into a fully automated process.
      • by krbvroc1 (725200) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @12:46AM (#21541417)

        But you've got admit, it's pretty cool how they address you by name throughout this carefully composed, personal email response made Just For You.
        Except his name is Steve.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by FutureDomain (1073116)

        But you've got admit, it's pretty cool how they address you by name throughout this carefully composed, personal email response made Just For You.
        And here's the code that'll help you make your own personal email response Just For You. $pathetic_letter =~ s/Dumb Customer/Mark/;
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by AySz88 (1151141)

      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.

      Their technical excuse (see this George Ou blog post [zdnet.com] .) is that this is true - with current modems, cable cannot handle the number of simultaneous transmits required by, for example, torrent uploads. Like Ethernet on a shared wire, they say, cable modems send out requests to transmit on a bus, which can collide repeatedly and require lots of retransmission attempts, which apparently causes runaway queuing problems.

      Personally, I don't really care whether the excuse true or not - I don't have empathy for

      • by sumdumass (711423)
        They are going to have to upgrade anyways just to compete with traditional DSL. I'm getting 8 megs at a site I admin and we saw spikes of 10 meg. The service rating is for 8 megs though. This is on standard copper through ATT/SBC business service.

        That site used quite a bit of bandwidth in VOIP and VPN traffic too. Never once has an issue with it.

        But, I guess a question might be, if their excuse is true, then why isn't time warner having the same issues and doing some of the same things. I havn't heard of ti
      • by davidsyes (765062)
        "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."

        The weasely bastards....

        Notice the:

        "but rather manage the network in such a way that this activity does not degrade the broadband experience for other users."

        IOW, they are degrading YOUR (P2P) experience, but not the other, obedient (l)users.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by vixen337 (986423)
      The funny thing is, I got this exact same response in reply to a question about them blocking an UPLOAD from me. Then I replied to say that wasn't really my question, could I get their form letter for uploads and I got a form letter back that said I was asking about a feature that wasn't supported. Huh?

      It's obvious their tech support is not read. I called and I also got a load of bull about downloads that sounded scripted. I understand about downloads, but how is that stopping my uploads?

      I'm switching p
  • 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.
    • 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?

      • by Kamots (321174)
        My speculation would be that he's refering to something in the anti-spam laws that make it illegal to forge who an electronic communication (in this case the RST packet) is from. Impersonation of a third party for arguably malicious purposes... mmm... sounds like something that could well be illegal to me.

        Like you however I am interested in hearing what statutes would apply... I'm just more convinced that those statutes are out there.
        • by sumdumass (711423) on Friday November 30, 2007 @11:41PM (#21541077) Journal
          While it is popular to claim something is illegal when the statement should be more like It should be illegal, I would be more along the belief that something like fraud or something along those lines.

          I looked but couldn't find the a law on a federal level but saw a few state laws in passing that include using the Internet to commit fraud and causing the interruption of Internet services in that act. Now suppose that their interference can be considered defrauding you of services they sold you and suppose that interfering with the data streams was the method for doing this, even though it is on their network, I imagine something could be twisted enough to apply.

          I look at it this way, Suppose you purchased a printer that printed 20 pages per minute. Says so right on the box and on the printer itself. Now, when you get home, you find that you have to buy the turbo module at a cost more then the printer in order to get that advertised performance. And when you complain, they tell you that it is done this way to protect their supply network. What sort of laws apply? Suppose that you have to feed the paper manually one sheet at a time and push a button after it is started without the turbo module which could be similar to having to monitor and restart your torrent or whatever.

          Now, what sort of laws would apply, would they be criminal or civil in nature, and seeing how comcast is a regulated entity, is there a state oversight organization that fields complaints already. In ohio, the public utilities commission has some oversight of time warner I think. I have used them in the past to help get complaints again Cell phone providers taken care of. I think it probably is illegal in some way under some laws. I just don't know the specific ones or if I am correct in that assumption. But the oversight necessary might already be there.

          Comcast sells the Internet, not some Internet like service. Their willful failure to deliver reliably might not sit well with local regulators either. At minimum, they should be forced to be honest and up front about their tampering with P2P applications before you purchase their service. and where there are no other options because of Comcasts government granted monopoly, there should be a way around it.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Kamots (321174)
            I'm thinking that you're not understanding what Comcast is doing. (Given your choice of examples)

            Lets look at what happens with WoW updates.

            Lets say that you're one of the first one's trying to do a WoW update, so your updater (which uses bittorrent) contacts Blizzard's servers. Comcast then sends you a packet pretending to be from Blizzard saying that Blizzard doesn't want to talk to you.

            That's forgery.
            • by sumdumass (711423)
              It is along the same lines as I listed. You have this thing that doesn't work as advertised, the Internet. Accept in this case, they are representing someone else in the process.

              And yea, I know what it was doing, the problem with using analogies is that you can never be exact enough to represent something as true as it really is. But we have fraud, the denial of service that comcast advertises when they sell the service and the reasons for the denial is because of Comcast, not any third party.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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 eno
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by terrymr (316118)
        I believe they are stretching definitions to the limit if not beyond :

        "The duty to carry does not mean that a carrier is never justified in refusing to provide service. It is well established that "if goods are not of the character that the carrier transports he may refuse carriage." Gorton, Supra at 109. Yet, the reasons for refusal are very limited and related to potential damage to other's goods, or to unreasonably high risks for the carrier in its capacity as insurer, or are beyong the reasonable capaci
      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by UncleFluffy (164860)

        would you care to tell us what is illegal about it?

        I don't know about the OP, but my argument would be that they're advertising an "Internet" connection, but violating RFCs left right and centre. If I purchase Internet service I expect it to behave as advertised - i.e. comply with the protocols which define how the Internet behaves. Anything else seems like fraud to me.

      • NY Sec. 190.25 (Score:3, Informative)

        by Joe U (443617)
        NY Sec. 190.25

        S 190.25 Criminal impersonation in the second degree.
            A person is guilty of criminal impersonation in the second degree when
        he:
            1. Impersonates another and does an act in such assumed character with
        intent to obtain a benefit or to injure or defraud another;
        Not a real stretch. If they just enforced QoS, then it wouldn't be an issue, the issue is pretending to be the end user's system.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MobyDisk (75490)
        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 m2943 (1140797)
      They are illegally interfering with their customers' service and don't have the guts to do it outright themselves.

      It's their network; they can send or not send whatever packets they want.

      They can also just cancel your account.
  • 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.
    • by Entropius (188861)
      I think that if they're injecting packets into their customers' data streams, we should be injecting packets into theirs, right?

      Quality of service is important, so just to ensure that their service is up and running, we should ping -f -s 10000 it, don't you think?

      ***

      In essence, Comcast is executing a denial of service attack on their customers' traffic with a third party. That traffic does not belong to them; they merely carry it. Isn't this illegal under some sort of computer-sabotage law?
      • by m2943 (1140797)
        In essence, Comcast is executing a denial of service attack on their customers' traffic with a third party. That traffic does not belong to them; they merely carry it. Isn't this illegal under some sort of computer-sabotage law?

        Why would it be illegal? It's their wires. It's not even a contractual violation. You signed an agreement with them which specifically prohibits you from sending P2P traffic and allows them to take any steps they like in order to protect their network.

        If you want to do P2P file sh
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Fragrantly violating the network standards...

      I think we might have had the same guy install our cable! Tell him I said 'hi', next time you see him.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Vellmont (569020)

      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.

      Why? Just ignore all RST packets for bittotent ports, and timeout any connections. Do it at the NAT level, and you don't have to modify the OS. It leads to some extra open connections, but big deal. Comcast can just plain old block the connections anyway, the only reason they're not is because it takes more router resources than they have.
  • Silver lining? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Loki_1929 (550940)
    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" Steven
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Entropius (188861)
      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
    • Re:Silver lining? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday November 30, 2007 @10:16PM (#21540623)

      How is it a silver lining that Congress may reconsider Congressionally mandated Federal control over the internet in the United States?
      Because they've got a pretty good track record so far.
      Net neutrality was the rule of the land until just recently.
      It is not something new, it is a return to the way it was only a few years ago.
      In 2005 the SCOTUS ruled [wikipedia.org] that broadband internet was an "information service," and not a "telecommunications service." Thus freeing broadband ISPs from the laws that have enforced "network neutrality" for telephone service for decades.
    • by QuantumG (50515)
      The US has pitiful competition in Internet service. I'm surprised that antitrust laws have not come into effect yet. Actually, no, I'm not surprised, because individuals can't sue companies for antitrust violations.

      • by sumdumass (711423)
        The providers for the Internet are the same providers in most cases that enjoyed government granted or imposed monopolies in another utility area.

        The monopoly situation is sort of built in from the ground up and proving rather difficult to get rid of.
  • 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.

    • by Entropius (188861) on Friday November 30, 2007 @10:29PM (#21540715)
      Well, one way to do it:

      1. No ISP shall give preferential handling to, modify, fail to deliver, or alter the content of traffic based on either its source, the protocol over which it is carried, or its content.

      Exception: If a quality-of-service mechanism becomes widely used over the Internet, such as setting a time-critical flag on certain traffic (online gaming, VoIP, etc.), ISP's may give preferential handling to traffic so flagged, as long as:

      a) the mechanism for requesting a higher QoS for certain traffic is widely known and available, such that anyone can use it;

      b) the preferential treatment given to time-critical content is given equally to all traffic claiming to need a higher QoS without regard for its source, the protocol over which it is carried, or its content;

      Exception: Traffic which is clearly and unambiguously malicious may be dropped. "Malicious", in this case, means either:

      a) It is intended to interfere with the correct operation and control of the recipient's equipment, if the recipient of the traffic is a customer of the ISP. This includes, but is not limited to, denial-of-service traffic and exploit attempts. However, an ISP must honor a request in writing by a customer to cease filtering inbound malicious traffic to them.

      b) It is generated by a program running without the consent of, and against the wishes of, the owner of the sending computer, if the sender is a customer of the ISP.

      c) Such traffic consists of unsolicited commercial email, and the customer has requested that the ISP filter inbound email to remove spam.
      • c) Such traffic consists of unsolicited commercial email, and the customer has requested that the ISP filter inbound email to remove spam.

        Don't make it spam-specific. Make it possible for the consumers to opt-in to very specific and clearly defined filters -- that is, if it claims to filter spam, it will not also filter bittorrent. And make sure that's opt-in, not opt-out, so that unless people are specifically requesting some sort of filter or shaping, they don't get it.

        But yes, it is pretty easy to defi

        • Reminds me of calling my ISP and asking them to unfirewall port 25 in/outbound to/from my IP block because I was running my own mail server. Their network tech did a quick "do you actually know what you're doing" quiz (lol) and we agreed on simple firewall parameters we could both agree on. I don't mind ISPs filtering, I just want to be told about it and be allowed to have a different service for myself.
    • The biggest problem you may have here is that there are two competing definitions -- the real one, and the ones the ISPs made up.

      The real one goes: ISPs shall be neutral with respect to network traffic. This is really, really, ridiculously, ludicrously simple: you put a router between your customer and the Internet. You do not put any firewall or packet shaping rules there.

      There's a lot of ways to be more specific and less possible to poke legal holes in it. But that's the part of it that's as simple as, fo
    • by sumdumass (711423)
      A simple law that said it is illegal for a internet service provider or operator to discriminate or manipulate the traffic one the net in any ways that deny the customer the service level they paid for.

      You would have to add that they cannot discriminate any peer traffic based on a payment other then a standard minimum generally in use for all peer providers.

      Peering is the concept of routing your information over networks that don't belong to you or the recipient of your data in order for it to get to the in
      • by cdrguru (88047)
        Problem is, the ISPs are going to get paid. They are offering below-cost connectivity today to build market share. This isn't going to continue much longer. They see Google with a few extra billions and think there is some of that to go around.

        Unfortunately, that probably isn't the way it is going to work either.

        What I would be worried about is the $399 ISP bill, long before I worried about Comcast getting some money from Google.
    • by bendodge (998616)
      I am personally against the current form of net neutrality. I think that government intervetion is almost always bad. The ONLY regulations that should be passed:

      1. All backbone providers must allow other providers to connect to them on a naked pipe.
      2. All providers must use standard protocols*.
      3. Providers may only throttle data/bandwidth based on protocol, not orgin/destination.

      *I'd leave defining "standard" up to ICAAN, with these additional rules:
      1. The protocol must be open - anyone can see how it works
  • by toadlife (301863) on Friday November 30, 2007 @09:55PM (#21540473) Journal
    Check out this article [zdnet.com] posted by George Ou at ZDNet a couple of weeks ago.

    The reason Comcast is doing this is because the shared node topology of Cable can't handle all of the connection requests. Similar to a bunch of Windows 95 boxes running NETBUI on a large non-switched network, bittorrent causes a a ton of contention. The result are packet storms which end up taking everyone out.

    Of course Comcast won't say, "The reason we do this is because our entire infrastructure is shit and needs to be replaced." The stockholders wouldn't like that.
    • by dpilot (134227)
      Then tell us what you're really doing and why you're doing it.

      Let's grant that what they say is true, and that they need to do what they're doing. Then tell us. Stop the CRAP about "We don't block bittorrent," but instead say, "For these reasons, bitborrent will cripple our network, so we're taking these steps."

      Extra points on guidelines on how to set up bittorrent to not cripple the network.
    • by bagboy (630125)
      >>because the shared node topology of Cable can't handle all of the connection requests.

      Umm, sorry to maybe enlighten you and some others, but the public Internet - as a whole - is a shared node topology. If all connections on the big "I" tried to pull all of their available bandwidth, all at the same time, you would have "Severe" congestion and retransmits, very much like the shared-node of broadband cable. Fact is ISPs build on a shared-node concept for bandwidth oversubscription. You just can't
      • by Wordplay (54438)
        Yeah, but in this case I think the problem is that there's nothing keeping a broadcast packet coming from one system from going to all the other systems in the neighborhood, or wherever the share is. I remember when cable modems first came out, ARP storms were a big problem, and you'd also get fun stuff like seeing your neighbor's shared directories (which use/used netbeui broadcast protocols) because there was absolutely no partitioning or routing that kept you away from your neighbor's packets.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by toadlife (301863)
        Ok,

        From the article that I linked to that you obviously failed to read:

        Cable modems have a crappy upstream protocol. When it wants to send, it sends a request to send packet to the controller, and waits for a reply that gives it a time slot. But the RTS packet is sent in a contention slot, such that any two stations sending RTS in the same cycle will collide, and then nobody gets to transmit. The more data you have queued at the cable modem, the more likely a collision.

        The network is physically large, with a long propagation delay relative to the size of the collision window. And when collisions start to happen, they ripple as more and more stations have data queued for transmission. So the only way to make this protocol stable is to actively limit the amount of data queued at the cable modem for upstream delivery, and only way to do that for Torrent is to stifle connections at the TCP level. I've tried to scheme up a better way to do this, and there isn't one.

    • by davidsyes (765062)
      Well, maybe their "STOCKholders" ought to be forced into being "SHOCKholders".... (thru an ISP anew...

      would be nice if Google acted as an ISP and GAVE away the service for ads... Run comblasts ass right out of business.... Every comcast Customer gets a FREE Google service for 3 years; then $15/month after that...")
    • Dude, you're full of it. If someone at Comcast believes that, they're an idiot.

      That's all there is to it.

      Cogeco cable up here in Canada handles file sharing loads just fine, the problem is overselling of bandwidth and 24hr bandwidth users.

      What high speed Internet providers /should/ be doing is splitting packages between burst and dedicated speeds more clearly for consumers. "Guaranteed* 1Mbit, burst to 15Mbit" is what they want you to buy, so that's what they should call it, not just 15Mbit (max) or whate
  • by Futurepower(R) (558542) <MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com> on Friday November 30, 2007 @09:59PM (#21540495) Homepage
    Comcast continues to deny [comcast.net] they are blocking or discriminating with traffic. (See "Hot Topics" in the middle of the page.)

    See this nonsense [comcast.net] linked from that page:

    Question: "Do you discriminate against particular types of online content?"

    Answer: "No. There is no discrimination based on the type of content. Our customers enjoy unfettered access to all the content, services, and applications that the Internet has to offer. We respect our customers' privacy and we don't monitor specific customer activities on the Internet or track individual online behavior such as which Web sites they visit. Therefore, we do not know whether any individual user is visiting BitTorrent or any other site."

    I guess that is called "plausible deniability". Comcast management apparently assigned that question to someone who is so ignorant that he thinks BitTorrent is only a web site, and clearly doesn't understand the issues. I suppose that later Comcast management can blame the denial on a confused lower level employee.

    I was talking to a Comcast repair technician yesterday who came to replace a poor quality, non-functional cable modem. He was very uncaring. I suppose that is the Comcast culture. It must be miserable to work there.

    You can't see it with Slashdot's HTML rendering, but whoever typed that reply for Comcast is back in the days of the typewriter. He or she used two spaces after every period. That made sense when all type was monospaced. I wonder if I visited Comcast headquarters, would I see horses tied outside?
    • Question: "Do you discriminate against particular types of online content?"

      Answer: "No. There is no discrimination based on the type of content. Our customers enjoy unfettered access to all the content, services, and applications that the Internet has to offer. We respect our customers' privacy and we don't monitor specific customer activities on the Internet or track individual online behavior such as which Web sites they visit. Therefore, we do not know whether any individual user is visiting BitTorrent or any other site."

      That is a very carefully crafted response. in their response they subtly defined BitTorrent as a "site". and they're saying the don't monitor what sites you visit. that may well be true, but they are skirting the issue. likewise, they are subtly trying to redefine "Online content" to mean "http[s+]://*" and they don't filter based on *Content*, so that's true

      • by Culture20 (968837)
        Set up a script downloading OS isos from a mirror site to /dev/null and see how long before they discriminate.
    • by Culture20 (968837)
      Umm, everyone's supposed to use two spaces after a period, and one after a comma. HTML being stupid with white space doesn't change that.
      • It's a legacy of mono-spaced fonts (like on a typewriter). Single spaces after periods on a page of mono text make it hard to read. Variable-width fonts don't have that problem.

        Of course, I was taught to double-space, so I still do out of habit.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      I still use two spaces after all my sentences. I imagine anyone that started typing before the internet was all hip and cool does the same. When I was typing up documents in highschool using wordperfect, my teachers expected our documents to be formatted correctly, with 2 spaces after the periods, and proper paragraph and sentence structure. I can't believe that using 2 spaces after periods is seen as an antiquated practice.
      • It's antiquated partly because we are supposed to let the font designers design the look of the font, and not mess with it.

        The two spaces after a period method is antiquated also because it prevents you from doing an efficient search for accidental typing of two spaces between words.
        • by Joe U (443617)
          It's antiquated partly because we are supposed to let the font designers design the look of the font, and not mess with it.

          So, paragraph, line and page breaks are out too? Double spacing is a logical delimiter.

          The two spaces after a period method is antiquated also because it prevents you from doing an efficient search for accidental typing of two spaces between words.

          I'm guessing there's at least one person here who can do a regular expression to find accidental typing of two spaces where sentence delimi
  • First post! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Friday November 30, 2007 @09:59PM (#21540497) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if Comcast can deliver this on time...
  • by Carbon016 (1129067) on Friday November 30, 2007 @10:02PM (#21540519)
    This can be done in virtually all clients..for example, in uTorrent, set Encryption to "Forced" in your preferences. This isn't 100% foolproof but it seems to help a lot of Comcast users, among others with throttling and other P2P blocking measures forced on them from their ISP.
  • by pfbram (1070364) on Friday November 30, 2007 @10:16PM (#21540619)
    I'm a fan of YouTube (who isn't), but hadn't logged into my account for awhile and forgot the password when I tried commenting on a video. I had a reminder sent to my comcast e-mail account a day or two ago -- and it's been about 36 hours, and it never arrived! Assuming something was hosed with my YouTube account, I decided to create a new account, still no activation e-mail sent.

    I then changed my YouTube preferences to my GMail account, and the confirmation e-mail arrived within like 2 minutes. No surprise, since Google owns both GMail and YouTube. But my curiosity was now aroused, so I changed the e-mail preferences on YouTube to my work account (I'm an open source programmer at a Big-10 university). Again, the YouTube confirmation came within like 2 minutes or so.

    I logged into comcast.net under my main subscriber e-mail account today -- and deactivated ALL spam/filtering on that account. I then went back to YouTube and switched preferences back to my comcast account. It's been about 4 hours and, of course, there's been no e-mail from YouTube.

    Anyone else notice this oddness between YouTube / Comcast? It irked me enough to create a little web site of it this afternoon, and post it on my blog as well (http://paulbramscher.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]).
  • by Skapare (16644) on Friday November 30, 2007 @10:20PM (#21540653) Homepage

    Use IPsec. Not only can they not tell what your packets mean (only where they are going and came from), but they cannot forge an RST since that also needs to be encrypted with the association key.

    So they could do a man-in-the-middle attack on a simplistic key exchange done over IPsec. But that would require far more resources (they have to get in the middle of each connection) than they appear to be willing to use (RST forgery is about the cheapest form of net interference there is). So I think even minimal IPsec would bring this blocking to and end until such time as they want to invest in whatever it takes to mount an attack on IPsec. Then we just use a strong key infrastructure and end that.

    If the protocol involved understood the work to be done (e.g. how many bytes to be transferred), it could also re-establish a new connection if the existing one got dropped, and resume the transfer ... until done or one end decides to not do this anymore.

  • There is already a law to apply here....take away their common carrier status. As soon as they discriminate among content, they SHOULD lose their common carrier status, and can be sued out of business the first time they DON'T block hate speech or kiddy porn. THERE is a law that applies. It never gets applied because they pay politicians.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Secrity (742221)
      ISPs and cable TV providers in the US are not common carriers, Comcast doesn't have common carrier status. If ISPs were common carriers there would be no net neutrality issues.
    • by pavera (320634)
      Only the TELCOMS have/need common carrier status.

      Cable companies don't get that.
  • by NynexNinja (379583) on Friday November 30, 2007 @10:36PM (#21540765)
    All one has to do is look at the main competitor to Comcast, which is Verizon, and look at how they do the same type of stuff. They block outbound SMTP traffic except to their smtp servers...
    • 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
  • by Yossarian45793 (617611) on Friday November 30, 2007 @10:38PM (#21540781)
    Can't you just write a iptables rule to drop RST packets destined for your bittorrent port? You could even get clever about it and drop RST packets that come out of the blue, but allow repeated RST packets to pass, so that connections that have really be reset on the far end can be closed.
  • So, if they start injecting RSTs into the stream, they obviously are monitoring the contents of the stream, know that it's p2p traffic, and are rewriting the contents on the fly (you could say "moderating" the packets). Does this affect their common-carrier status if they just interfere/slow down a transmission that happens to contain illegal material but permit it to (slowly) happen?
  • I think capitalism will be Comcast's undoing, assuming that consumers start to get annoyed with the diminished results, and begin to express their discontent.

    Other DSL providers will naturally begin try and use the fact they don't interfere with the internet as a selling point. Assuming this happens, the only places that may be affected are any in which Comcast has a monopoly by being the only source for DSL.

    My only fear is other DSL providers will see that Comcast is getting away with tactics like this, an
  • Which other ISP's are involved in this phuckery?
    I'm a new Satellite customer (wildblue) and bit torrent appears to have
    similar issues. Mainly with keeping a connection. Once BT starts to pick up speed
    its like it gets disconnected and starts scraping again. Does this sound like a RST aswell?
    I'm not sure if my issues are with the ISP messing with me or Satellite just having horrible latency and packet loss. Anyone know?
  • Wondering why Comcast is still doing this even after having been "outed" over the last few weeks? Simple: they don't care. If you get fed up and leave for one of their competitors, just to show them, think they'll miss you? They'll be high-fiving around the office as soon as you go. You're costing them money by maxxing out your use of the service. They want you to leave. The best way to get you to do that is to keep giving you crappy service and lying about the reasons for it. If they lose the heaviest 1% o

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