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FCC Seeks Comment In Comcast P2P Investigation 82

Posted by kdawson
from the put-it-in-neutral dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The FCC has officially opened proceedings investigating Comcast's use of Sandvine to send RST packets and 'throttle' P2P connections by disconnecting them. The petitioner, Vuze, Inc. is asking the FCC to rule that Comcast's measures do not constitute 'reasonable network management' per the FCC rules and to forbid Comcast from unreasonably discriminating against lawful Internet applications, content, and technologies. If you want to weigh in on these proceedings, you can use the Electronic Comment Filing System to comment on WC Docket no. 07-52 any time before February 13th."
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FCC Seeks Comment In Comcast P2P Investigation

Comments Filter:
  • by yincrash (854885) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @08:48AM (#22065724)
    Getting slashdot users to comment to the FCC, smartest idea EVER.
    • by techpawn (969834)

      Getting slashdot users to comment to the FCC
      I was thinking the same thing... I was also trying to decide if the "put-it-in-neutral" dept. was meant for our comments or commentary on the Comcast P2P thing...
    • by AndersOSU (873247) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @08:54AM (#22065770)
      I tried. For some reason I lose my connection to the FCC after only a few seconds...
      • by FudRucker (866063)
        Soon the FCC will suffer the effects of being slashdotted and it will be resolved...
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        I tried. For some reason I lose my connection to the FCC after only a few seconds...

        Don't tell me. Your provider is Concast right? ;-)

        I had to ask
  • by cheesethegreat (132893) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @08:54AM (#22065768)
    Posting the link to the public comment filing system was an excellent decision. The problem with these "Public" comment periods is that there are very minimal requirements for advertising the opportunity to comment, and too often the only people who know about it are the parties actually involved in the litigation. Slashdot users are (often) some of the most well-informed and affected members of the community with regards to technology issues, and Slashdot editors ought to ensure that they include information about opportunities to make public comments on ongoing regulatory issues whenever possible.
    • by houghi (78078)
      That would require the editors to actualy read, let alone understand what is written.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Slashdot users are (often) some of the most well-informed and affected members of the community with regards to technology issues

      You must be n... no, that's too easy. Try reading /. at -1 from time to time, you might reconsider your above statement after that.

      • by houstonbofh (602064) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @11:16AM (#22067552)

        Slashdot users are (often) some of the most well-informed and affected members of the community with regards to technology issues


        You must be n... no, that's too easy. Try reading /. at -1 from time to time, you might reconsider your above statement after that.


        Both are correct. We have some of the most well informed, and some of the biggest idiots around. I feel sorry for the FCC since the commenst section isn't moderated. No browsing at +2 for them. :(
    • Slashdot users are (often) some of the most well-informed and affected members of the community with regards to technology issues

      Thanks for the chuckle. You'll want to set your filter to below "+4" sometime; the vast majority of slashdotters are just as uninformed as the rest of the public -- except worse, because we don't /know/ we're just as uninformed.

  • Oh, the trolls are going to have fun with this one.
  • Vuze Inc. = Azureus (Score:5, Informative)

    by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @08:59AM (#22065808) Homepage Journal
    For those interested, Vuze Inc. is made up of the developers of Azureus, the open source bit torrent client. These guys obviously have a stake in what's going on because their newer app, Vuze, has deals with some media organizations to serve their content via P2P.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:08AM (#22065880)
    My complaint turned into:

    "I am a happy Comcast customer and I love P2P blocking! In fact, I wish they would block everything! Piracy is BAD!"

    Think Comcast had something to do with it?
  • All comments are provided in PDF and can only be displayed using Adobe Acrobat Reader software available free from Adobe System, Inc. Additional information is also available on how to install and use the Acrobat Reader in the Getting Started or Acrobat Reader Support links found on this page.

    Apparently, these are some sort of "fancy" PDF's that can only be opened using Acrobat!

    Seriously, though, just say they "can be displayed" not "can only be displayed" -- you think they could at least get that right.

    • by Chris Burke (6130)
      Seriously, though, just say they "can be displayed" not "can only be displayed" -- you think they could at least get that right.

      True, but I think it's fair to say that for anyone who actually needed to be told that, "can only" is basically true.
    • I liked this part better:

      In order to use ECFS, you must have Netscape Navigator 4.0 or higher or Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher. Netscape Navigator is recommended and preferred because of its reliability.
      At least they don't prefer IE!
  • by Danathar (267989) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:09AM (#22065890) Journal
    Although Comcast has the right to throttle and manage their network connectivity, forging packets will probably get them in trouble. IANAL
    • The question is, do they have the "right" to throttle specific applications, or visits to specific (i.e. competitor's) offerings? For example, Comcast, as you may know, offers their own email system - if it's ok to throttle certain kinds of traffic why would it not be ok to throttle access to non-comcast email? I also believe Charter was throttling bittorrent traffic - it suddenly got smooth as silk when the FCC begain investigating Comcast.
    • Yes, but just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Just because I can piss on your granda's grave doesn't mean I should.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by budgenator (254554)
      If that is what they were doing I would be more generous, but they are advertising unlimited high-speed and they are blocking 24/7. If it were just during peak usage periods then I'd consider it network management because I'd be getting unlimited high-speed most of the time rather than none of the time.
  • Deja Vu (Score:5, Interesting)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:16AM (#22065946)
    These companies are ostensibly throttling bittorent and other P2P services because they eat up too much bandwidth. And rather than improve bandwidth or set up a new pricing structure (abandoning the silly pretense of "unlimited" usage), they are taking a more heavy-handed and secretive approach.

    When I though about this, though I got a sense of Deja Vu. I can't remember the particulars, but wasn't there a similar controversy back when people first started using modems over their phone lines? I seem to remember the telcos rasing a stink and saying something like "this was not what the phone lines were intended for, it's eating up too much of our resources" or something to that effect and threatening to sanction or even cut off heavy modem users. Of course, we know how that one turned out, but can you imagine what the world would look like today if they had followed through, cracking down on modem use and crippling the internet before it even got started?

    • Re:Deja Vu (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:48AM (#22066310)
      Streaming and downloadable video and audio are my primary form of entertainment. I also use services to download games. Everything I download is legal - some of it is paid for, and some is made available for free by the content providers. This month, I got the call from Comcast saying that I had to use less bandwidth, or risk being shut off for 12 months. I asked how much I should be using, and they refused to give an answer.

      Comcast is discriminating against more than just P2P users. I'd be happy to meet their specified usage limits, if they would specify them, or use a different plan if they would define the limits of each option.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by elrous0 (869638) *
        That's what REALLY pisses me off about these companies. It would be one thing if they would just publicly state their limits and at least allow users the option to pay more for bandwidth. But the fact that they try to advertise these services as "unlimited," then give you the boot when you try to use it (while refusing to tell you what the limit even is) is nothing less than outright consumer fraud.
    • by Inda (580031)
      "And rather than improve bandwidth or set up a new pricing structure (abandoning the silly pretense of "unlimited" usage)..."

      A new pricing structure will never happen. Bandwidth is so cheap that 'normal' users would only pay $1 a month. 90gb costs me $25... Not going to happen.
      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        All they would have to do would be to add an asterisk to their existing plans and specify "*Up to 100GB per month" at the bottom. They wouldn't have to give users at the bottom a discount, just let power-users know what the upper limit actually is and allow us the option to buy more bandwidth if we wish.
    • by sloth jr (88200)
      Yup, it does eat up too much bandwidth - because broadband providers count on oversubscription of their services coupled with actual rates that don't saturate their network. They seem to be content offering you a connection at an advertised speed - unless you actually try and use it at that advertised speed, which p2p seems to do a reasonably good job of.

      On the face of it, it seems reasonable to suggest that broadband providers actually provision their network to allow simultaneous full-speed network traffi
      • by techpawn (969834)

        Yup, it does eat up too much bandwidth - because broadband providers count on oversubscription of their services coupled with actual rates that don't saturate their network.

        Time Warner is the big (only?) cable provider in this area and after canceling their Television service they told me I could get a higher speed connection at the introduction rate for a year. Fine with me, I live in an apartment and they set up accounts by address/name so when I move in 9 months I'm under the impression that I become a n

    • Re:Deja Vu (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Alsee (515537) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @12:59PM (#22069020) Homepage
      These companies are ostensibly throttling bittorent and other P2P services

      No, Comcast was absolutely NOT throttling.

      What Comcast was doing was impersonating their customer and sending a fraud "hang up" command to the other end of the connection, and also impersonating the other end of the connection to send a fraudulent "hang up" command to their own customer, killing the connection from both ends.

      US Law Computer Fraud and Abuse act [cornell.edu]
      TITLE 18 PART I CHAPTER 47 Section 1030 Paragraph (a)(5)(A)(i)
      [Whoever] knowingly causes the transmission of a program, information, code, or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally causes damage without authorization, to a protected computer;
      Paragraph(a)(5)(B)(i)
      loss to 1 or more persons during any 1-year period (and, for purposes of an investigation, prosecution, or other proceeding brought by the United States only, loss resulting from a related course of conduct affecting 1 or more other protected computers) aggregating at least $5,000 in value;

      And where Paragraph (e)(8) defines:
      the term "damage" means any impairment to the integrity or availability of data, a program, a system, or information;

      Comcast was in fact knowingly transmitting fraudulent commands with the intent and effect of "impairing the availability of data", and considering that they did so to a VAST customer base it trivially exceeded an "aggregate value of $5000" even on the most conservative per-customer estimate valuation.

      As far as I can Comcast hit a bullseye on an explicit criminal statute. Forget about FCC diddling over whether this was or was not "reasonable network management", as far as I can tell this should be a damn CRIMINAL case.

      -
      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        As far as I can Comcast hit a bullseye on an explicit criminal statute. Forget about FCC diddling over whether this was or was not "reasonable network management", as far as I can tell this should be a damn CRIMINAL case.
        Assuming that the imprisonment penalties can't really be applied to a non-corporeal corporation, what is the "fine under this title" repeatedly referenced in subsection (c)?
      • by jimsum (587942)
        It depends on the definition whether Comcast is throttling or not. Comcast is indeed killing a connection, so there is no way to say they are "throttling" the connection. But, you can't forget there is a bittorrent client running on this computer, which notices when a connection is reset and automatically tries to reconnect. Every time Comcast kills a connection, the bittorrent client tries to establish a new one; so when Comcast eventually allows a connection to live, at that point the bittorrent client
    • by slapout (93640)
      Yeah, I remember that. I also remember some of the telecos turning around and becoming ISPs!
  • Dear FCC.... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    While you are at it, can you please deliver a nice deadly blow and announce that Public Airwaves like FM and Tv bands will not have any encryption nor "content control" allowed on them. Also announce that if you broadcast it for free, you give UP the right to sue anyone over that content as it was recorded over the air. I.E. if someone shares that episode recorded off their local TV station and it is intact with commercials, you cant do squat to even stop them from sharing it.

    I'm hoping for some sanity,
    • Plenty of content providers and software publishers have extremely open licenses. But what you're describing would strip GPL, BSD, and other licensing from anything that is transmitted via Bittorrent or public FTP sites. It can't work because people will turn around, at least in the software world, and proprietize these public broadcasts under your "we won't sue you" doctrine.

      I think you need to go back and work on that idea a bit more.
  • by pla (258480) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:18AM (#22065978) Journal
    FCC Seeks Comment In Comcast P2P Investigation

    Why, so they can ignore it again?

    The public who understands it, opposes it. The rest of the public has no clue what they even asked (though would oppose it if they did). And the FCC will still side with the three comments from guys like Rupert Murdoch.
    • Pretty much it. Comments without a fat check behind them are not even worth the bits they are carried on. It's should be obvous to anyone that anytime a carrier tampers with the traffic on its network in any way they should lose thier common carrier status.

      • by compro01 (777531)

        It's should be obvous to anyone that anytime a carrier tampers with the traffic on its network in any way they should lose thier common carrier status.
        cable providers have never had common carrier status. DSL providers used to have common carrier status, but they don't anymore.

        what they should lose is their DMCA safe harbour status.
        • I don't see what makes you think this: companies have *lost* common carrier status, or been shown not to have it, when they exerted editorial control over user material and then failed to prevent other inappropriate behavior and were held responsible for it. But that doesn't mean the whole industry doesn't have common carrier: why do you think this?
    • by tychovi (1221054)
      exactly, and I'll be pinning my hopes to the monkeys... (both sets)
  • by ironwill96 (736883) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:19AM (#22065984) Homepage Journal
    Now, let's be honest. We get some...insightful...commentary posted here on the site, so I can only imagine what comments submitted to the FCC are going to read like.

    Slashdot users have been known to be confrontational at times, and I can't imagine that we will be doing our case any good by submitting nasty, derogatory comments to the FCC. I'm also with the conspiracy theorists that Comcast could just block the connections to that FCC page with some unfortunate "network packet loss" so keep people from submitting comments.

    I guess we're screwed either way, since I doubt the FCC will do anything meaningful once Congress finishes neutering them after their "SuddenOutbreakOfCommonSense".
    • Slashdot users have been known to be confrontational at times, and I can't imagine that we will be doing our case any good by submitting nasty, derogatory comments to the FCC
      Yes, because the rest of the internet won't submit derogatory comments.... Comment away my friends...comment away...
    • by faloi (738831) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:41AM (#22066220)
      You're absolutely right, we're in a lose/lose situation. The FCC might decide the whole thing is garbage, which it is, and threaten some action against Comcast. Congress, who coincidentally get a lot of money from the entertainment industry, might move to block them. The entertainment industry, who coincidentally believe they're losing a lot of money due to teh evilz of bit torrents, will be happy and might see if other carriers are willing to do the same thing.

      The best hope to get this stopped early is for people with a large sustained user base to get the legitimate uses of bit torrent out in the open and in the public eye. Vuze, Blizzard, and Bit Torrent (obviously) have a pretty big stake in the whole thing.
    • by esocid (946821)
      Good thing I just submitted it at work. Suck on that comcast.
  • by ironwill96 (736883) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @09:31AM (#22066082) Homepage Journal
    I actually looked up some of the comments filed so far and it looks like the FCC needs to employ a spam filter of some sort.

    Apparently the FCC is in need of purchasing some new life insurance: Submitted Comment [fcc.gov]

    They also need to buy some new cell phones from Hong Kong!: Submitted Comment [fcc.gov]

    Luckily, there are a few good comments such as this set of form letters (read: petition) found here: Submitted Comment [fcc.gov]

    Ok, there are a few good comments there at least, I like this Rome analogy here: Submitted Comment [fcc.gov]
  • Like blocking port 25 on home connections? It seems to me that ISP's do a lot more service restriction just in general these days then they used to. I miss the good old days of having a shell account.

    Now, GET OFF MY LAWN!
    • by phoenixwade (997892) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @10:33AM (#22066912)
      blocking a port is somewhat different from packet sniffing and insertion. In the port 25 case, they ISP isn't really blocking it, just blocking out of network access - port 25 is reserved for the ISP s email servers. There is some justification for it, convenience of their users (the vast majority of whom use the ISP's mail servers) and some basic spam blocking. For the minority, it's trivial to open up a different port (587 or 2525 maybe?) for email and use that - it's done all the time. Inserting/blocking and falsifying packets is something else entirely. The only justification is that the ISP wants to throttle back traffic, that isn't in favor of an in-network service that most of the ISP's clients would prefer to use, and, since Comcast enjoys monopoly status in some areas, there isn't a way for the client to vote with their feet.
      • by LakeSolon (699033) *
        Regarding port 25: Some of my providers were kind enough to set up a non-standard port, but not all. It's still a pain for devices that use various networks (laptops, phones). When I'm at home I can use Charter's mail server for outgoing mail, but of course they don't allow me to send mail from outside their network so I have to revert settings when I'm connected via public Wifi. When someone visits my place with a phone or laptop and uses my WiFi, they get an error unless they change their mail server sett
        • Most of them allow authenticated mail services from outside: you might check your provider's services. This helps prevent spammers from using them as an open relay, and email worms from blowing their customers off the net or spewing worms that overwhelm their mail servres andn imperil their customers' systems.

          As much as my friends loathe it and scream about violations of their freedoms, I think we have to live with this one as a basic spam andn worm blocking technique. It does interfere with people who want
    • by KookyMan (850095)
      I tried setting up a STMP server on my connection and ran into a different set of problems. I had no problem connecting to smtp.comcast.net, or any other mail server on port 25. What I did have a problem with is the fact that apparently my IP is registered in a database as a Residential IP. No mail servers would accept mail from me on that basis, forcing me back to using comcast's mail server. (I was getting bounced mail messages from the receiving servers.)
  • http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/email.html [fcc.gov] At the bottom of that page you'll see an example of a completed form sent from an individual. It says:

    Dear FCC,
    I don't want to pay more for my phone. Please remove the surcharge and let competition rule. Thanks.
    John

    You would think that if that is one of their biggest complaints, so much so that they include it as an example of how to properly fill out a form, then they would at least consider getting rid of those pesky surcharges.

  • Simply put, Comcast should not be charged for this. DuranBUT instead, all of their local monopolies should be declared NULL and VOID. IOW, allow real competition in. Right now, we have a gov. create oligopoly and it leads to horrible service and outlandish rates. I know. I am on comcast for TV/Net, and qwest for phone. There is a real reason why they are bottom rated!
    • Right thing???
      Are you crazy?

      First there will be an investigation.
      Next, comcast will donate $254,323 to Senator Joe Lieber*gay*.
      Then, the said senator will tag along a provision with "Funds for schools" stating that throttling a P2P network is legal as long as the carrier has "reasonable" doubts the traffic is illegal.
      Fourthly, comcast and FCC will "settle" this out of court for an undisclosed sum (which is equal to zero).
      Fifthly, Vize would suddenly find its internet and physical cable is not available.
      Sixt
  • by QCompson (675963) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @10:52AM (#22067170)
    Big money/Corporations = Kevin Martin is all ears
    Concerned citizens = Kevin Martin hears nothing

    If Kevin Martin can ignore the public outrage about relaxing media ownership rules that he witnessed personally at several town hall meetings, he'll have no trouble ignoring a bunch of public comments on the internet. He's a corporate lapdog. This Comcast "investigation" is merely a formality and a complete joke.
  • Cox is doing the same thing, sending out reset messages to kill the connection for seeders. According to DSL Reports, they starting doing this sometime in Mid-November. I haven't tried to use P2P in a while, but I just tried to download something over P2P yesterday and couldn't break 60kB/s on a well seeded torrent. I have been able to get up to 500kB/s in the past. I'm down in San Diego.
  • Does anybody find it odd that the FCC website recomends Netscape as their browser of choice and then sends you to a link which forwards to http://netscape.aol.com/ [aol.com] that has no means of downloading Netscape? Then when you dig further you find this article [netscape.com] recomending migrating to Mozilla Firefox.

    Really can we trust the FCC to get anything right? Also am I the only one who was confused by that page that is supposed to describe how to comment?

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