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Government The Internet United States

FCC's Net Neutrality Plan Blocks BitTorrent 303

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-of-course-it-does dept.
master_p writes "The FCC's formally issued draft net neutrality regulations have a huge copyright loophole in them; a loophole that would theoretically permit Comcast to block BitTorrent just like it did in 2007 — simply by claiming that it was 'reasonable network management' intended to 'prevent the unlawful transfer of content.' The new proposed net neutrality regulations would allow the same practices that net neutrality was first invoked to prevent, even if these ISP practices end up inflicting collateral damage on perfectly lawful content and activities."
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FCC's Net Neutrality Plan Blocks BitTorrent

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  • Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Logical Zebra (1423045) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:36AM (#30932958)
    Obviously, the only use of Bit Torrent is illegal file sharing. /SARCASM
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:41AM (#30933018)
      US Postal system shut due to the ease of transfer copyright material as anonymous.
    • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:59AM (#30933258) Homepage Journal

      The irony in all this is that legal file sharers will be harmed, while people torrenting stuff illegally will simply find solutions that are harder to distinguish from normal traffic.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hh4m (1549861)
        Nothing will happen to torrents, relax. The market is always controlled by the consumers, in some way. So if there is demand for it, someone will come around and make providing it their business model. Just look at cannabis...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Nothing will happen to torrents, relax. The market is always controlled by the consumers, in some way.

          Indeed it is, so long as we don't relax. If we do relax, just assume it'll all go our way, and go back to our couch-potato existence, it'll be controlled by the corporations, not the consumers.

          Just look at cannabis...

          Yes, look at it. Look at the basic human rights which are robbed of people whose only crime is partaking in a substance which may, in the very worst case, harm only themselves. Ask yourself why that is, especially if the consumers are in charge.

      • by slifox (605302) *
        What people will start doing is paying for two ISPs: one locally for raw data access, and one remotely as an unfiltered endpoint onto the internet.

        If Comcast really wants, all they will see from customers is one encrypted, very high throughput connection

        They can't exactly block VPN connections like this, as business users are required to use VPNs more and more often
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MBGMorden (803437)

          There are already torrenting services like this (Seedm8.com I think - don't want to visit that link from my work machine).

          Effectively you can manage your torrents on that system with a web interface. Upload a file to their server and tell it to seed and it'll seed for you. Or, upload a torrent and it'll download it to your account on the remote system via P2P services where you can then download directly from their server and then delete the file.

          To your ISP you're not using P2P at all.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 28, 2010 @12:36PM (#30935056)

        stop telling me what i can do on the interent and where I can go, I paid my $40 this month

    • Thanks for adding in the word SARCASM at the end. If you hadn't done that I would have thought you were being serious. /JOKE

    • I told you so (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bonch (38532) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @01:12PM (#30935894)

      Every time a net neutrality article comes up, I ask the same question--how is handing control of the internet over to the government somehow better than what we have today, as if the government is some incorruptible entity that does everything right? Giving it to the government makes it susceptible to lobbying from groups like the RIAA, and I knew torrent traffic would be the first on the chopping block.

      This is sad but funny. Out of some alarmist political agenda scaring people about a problem that doesn't even exist, naive people were demanding that we give the government control of the internet, taking it away from ISP sysadmins based on the usual anti-capitalism arguments. Well, have fun, because you're getting what you want...government control of your once-free internet.

      • Re:I told you so (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JPLemme (106723) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @01:52PM (#30936710)
        The alternative is an Internet controlled by the ISPs, which can simply be paid by the RIAA and their friends to shape traffic as they see fit. The only way to prevent people with deep pockets from controlling your network access is to own the network yourself. Hell, if I remember correctly your "naive people" were demanding government interference BECAUSE the ISP sysadmins were blocking paying customers from using P2P protocols -- with no government involvement at all. When you're paying to use somebody else's network you're at somebody else's mercy, period, full stop.

        P.S. Don't interpret this post as a defense of government involvement.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by T Murphy (1054674)
        The support for net neutrality comes from the idea that things aren't too bad right now (Comcast has had issues though, I'm sure there are other examples too), and we would like to keep it that way, if not make it better. If we wait for things to get worse, we all know it will be far more difficult to get back to where we were.

        I wrote to my congress representative supporting net neutrality, and the response was that she wants to minimize government regulation, and let the market sort things out. I agree
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        taking it away from ISP sysadmins

        Damned straight. Keep in mind that this is the bare minimum that ISP sysadmins have done, so it's not as if the new legislation has caused any more harm than no legislation.

        Presumably, it does prevent some of the more egregious things that corrupt ISP sysadmins could have done, and explicitly stated that they planned to do, such as charging twice for the same bits (once to you, once to Google), prioritizing traffic based on business relationships (Skype goes up, SIP goes down, or vice versa), and so on.

        I'm

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:39AM (#30932982)

    Is this just protocols or also destinations?

    Could your ISP block websites which it considers to be involved in copyright infringement?
    Might it even only allow you communicate with a whitelist of IP's?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Z00L00K (682162)

      Of course the ISP can block whatever they want, but they can't control everything or they will have no customers.

      Bittorrent will if blocked be replaced by something more sneaky when it comes to filtering data. So it's not really useful to block it.

      • by Bakkster (1529253) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `nam.retskkaB'> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:26AM (#30933594)

        Of course the ISP can block whatever they want, but they can't control everything or they will have no customers.

        Competition only works to prevent this kind of stuff when it exists.

        This is the cruz of why America needs regulation like this. Because of the local monopolies, you may not have another choice for ISP. At best, you have the choice of DSL, Cable, and Fiber and each from exactly one provider. At worst, you may have only cable provider for broadband internet. Thus, the providers know that they have a captive public, very few users would voluntarily forego all internet access overall to protest their ISP blocking some of their usage. They can do whatever they want, their customers have nowhere to go.

        • by hany (3601) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:32AM (#30933706) Homepage

          If I understand and remember correctly, regulation is the culprit of your current local monopolies. So you want more regulation to solve that?

          If you want "customers" to be able to "go somewhere else", you need to create some competition. I think you can get that if you allow anybody to put fiber in the ground with only regulation being "do not destroy our property" and "the net gain for us - customers - have to be positive too".

        • by bonch (38532) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @01:16PM (#30935998)

          Uh, so what competition does the government have? You want to replace a few choices with one giant one?

          No, we don't need regulation like this. We need less government interference in our lives. Say bye to torrent traffic and hello to government lobbying from the RIAA and MPAA to block all kinds of things, with the cooperation of the current pro-DMCA administration.

          Seriously, are people fucking dumb? You want to give the government the power to regulate the internet? How could that end any other way but badly?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sjames (1099)

        Of course the ISP can block whatever they want, but they can't control everything or they will have no customers.

        Unless they are either the only game in town (common) or the other ISP in town is just as bad (nearly universal in the U.S.).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by harl (84412)

      They could but they will fail. The list of perfectly legitimate destinations will always be longer than the white list. Their customers will continuously be bounced from sites. The word of mouth and PR would be disastrous. Sure you can

      If you block protocol they just tunnel it through a different protocol or encrypt the protocol.
         

  • We told you. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:39AM (#30932996)

    We told you that any government-mandated net neutrality was going to be a lot of fun.
    But alas, people continue to live with their idyllic, dog-like trust of government, politicians, and bureaucrats, and didn't listen.

    Not to mention the whole net neutrality debate was mostly paranoia anyway. The real solution is for local governments to do something about the monopolies they grant telcos, but it's always easier to pray that god (the government) saves the day.

    • Re:We told you. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:41AM (#30933012)
      Right... Because if the gov't didn't do anything, this would somehow be better?
      • Re:We told you. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sinning (1433953) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:44AM (#30933056)
        If there were true competition in the market, the government wouldn't need to do anything. People would flock to the ISPs that give them the best service rather than flocking to the monopoly that offers service in their area.
        • Re:We told you. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:58AM (#30933244)

          I don't know about you, but I live in NYC, have a choice of at least three different providers (two cable, one DSL, maybe more since I last checked). The policies imposed are nearly identical between the three, and, as in the case of Comcast, I have no doubt that the stated policy and the de facto policy differ. Exactly which one am I supposed to "flock" to?

          • Re:We told you. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by blueg3 (192743) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:01AM (#30933288)

            You're supposed to flock to the theoretical Libertarian ideal that provides exactly what you want at a reasonable price. Barring that, stick with something you don't like and complain on the Internet that government regulation must be responsible for the situation.

            • ShadowRangerRIT said:

              I don't know about you, but I live in NYC, have a choice of at least three different providers (two cable, one DSL, maybe more since I last checked). The policies imposed are nearly identical between the three, and, as in the case of Comcast, I have no doubt that the stated policy and the de facto policy differ. Exactly which one am I supposed to "flock" to?

              blueg3 said:

              You're supposed to flock to the theoretical Libertarian ideal that provides exactly what you want at a reasonable price. Barring that, stick with something you don't like and complain on the Internet that government regulation must be responsible for the situation.

              Or you could write letter to the president and your representatives telling them that net neutrality means that all traffic is dealt with neutrally, and that they would be violating our rights by assuming all bit-torrent traffic is illegal. And you could write to editors at various publications in hopes of raising awareness. And you could contribute to the EFF. And you could even run for office or support those candidates who support your point of view. And you could start

              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by blueg3 (192743)

                But that might actually be effective, which doesn't seem to be the tactic people tend to go with.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              And you flock to your theoretical government ideal of government for the people, by the people. Now THAT'S something to laugh at. A business can be dealt with by mass consumer action. A government can only be dealt with [censored by Department of Homeland Security]

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Tacvek (948259)

              All too true, although in the case of internet, phone, and television options, blaming specific government regulations (as opposed to government regulation in general) would largely be correct. Ideally the grandparent would have far more than three high speed options.

              In the ideal case, NYC Cable Co-op, would own the cable, and all 6 or so cable companies nationwide would offer service over it, since they could, all having the exact same costs associated with offering service, which NYC Cable Co-op sets be a

          • by mdmkolbe (944892)

            I have no doubt that the stated policy and the de facto policy differ

            Which is why a true economic free-market requires informational transparency (and usually more than 3 options). If you can't predict the outcome of your potential choices with some level of certainty, then acting like a free-market rational actor become hard.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by gumbi west (610122)
              libertarians don't really talk about monopolies much--especially situations where the obvious optimal policy is for one company to have a monopoly. That is situations like electricity distribution, firehouses, et cetera. It is not even clear to me that the optimal policy in telecom isn't for the government to run the whole show because while this ologopoly system we have now does make for faster connections, it also makes for crazy high bills.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by socrplayr813 (1372733)

            And the 11.5 million New York State residents who do not live in NYC all have the same (or similar) options? I think not. Not to mention all the people that don't live in on the (densely populated) east coast. A huge portion of this country lives in suburbs or even the so-called country. Cities are not the beginning and end of discussion.

            I live in upstate New York (for you folks that don't know what that means, I'm roughly a 30 minute drive north of Albany, near Saratoga Springs). Personally, I have th

          • Re:We told you. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@wor f . n et> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @12:14PM (#30934580)

            If there were true competition in the market, the government wouldn't need to do anything. People would flock to the ISPs that give them the best service rather than flocking to the monopoly that offers service in their area.

            I don't know about you, but I live in NYC, have a choice of at least three different providers (two cable, one DSL, maybe more since I last checked). The policies imposed are nearly identical between the three, and, as in the case of Comcast, I have no doubt that the stated policy and the de facto policy differ. Exactly which one am I supposed to "flock" to?

            I've come to the conclusion that competition fails once an equilibrium has been reached. Take a competitive market, say, gas. In most urban areas, gas stations are a dime a dozen, and each intersection probably has two or three. Yet, you'll find for blocks on end, every gas station has the exact same price, maybe wavering a tiny bit. And that prices always seem to jump in unison, and fall very slowly. Yet this can exist without any form of price cartel among stations.

            Simply put, what happens is a station wants more profit, so it bumps up the price. Each station nearby sees that, then decide they want more profit, so they bump up their price in short order as well. There may be times when one station refuses to cooperate and keeps prices low, but the other stations get business simply because the price difference isn't worth having to drive to the other station when you're already at the more expensive station. But eventually they'll give in and raise their price too since there doesn't seem to be any harm to business.

            Same goes for Internet service. One ISP comes in, implements stupid policy. Other ISPs see stupid policy, also see no mass exodus, and end up implementing same stupid policy to increase profits.

            Instead of the ideal that everyone gets the best price and best features, we end up with harmonization of competition - everyone has the same policies, everyone has the same speeds, and there's not much to be gained by dropping prices or increasing service, so you might as well go and enjoy the same profits everyone else does.

            Seems to have happened with other products, like netbooks. Other than clearance, netbooks seemed to hover around $300 on the low end, yet you can get netbooks more expensive quite easily. Even counting the fact that a third party artificially limits the specifications, the price on netbooks hasn't seemed to have dropped, other than getting a better one for $300 now than $300 got you last year.

            • Re:We told you. (Score:5, Informative)

              by Alarindris (1253418) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @03:09PM (#30938634)

              In most urban areas, gas stations are a dime a dozen, and each intersection probably has two or three. Yet, you'll find for blocks on end, every gas station has the exact same price, maybe wavering a tiny bit. And that prices always seem to jump in unison, and fall very slowly. Yet this can exist without any form of price cartel among stations.

              Simply put, what happens is a station wants more profit, so it bumps up the price. Each station nearby sees that, then decide they want more profit, so they bump up their price in short order as well. There may be times when one station refuses to cooperate and keeps prices low, but the other stations get business simply because the price difference isn't worth having to drive to the other station when you're already at the more expensive station. But eventually they'll give in and raise their price too since there doesn't seem to be any harm to business.

              This really cracked me up. First of all, the profit made on gas at a gas station is about 3% at it's best, the supplier gets 5%-7%. Secondly, There are laws stating that we can't be more than 2 cents away from our closest competitor, we can only change prices once every 24 hours, and there is a cap on how much the price can go up per day (I think it's 6 cents, but this isn't really ever an issue). All of this went info effect during the oil crisis.

        • Re:We told you. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gad_zuki! (70830) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:09AM (#30933374)

          >People would flock to the ISPs that give them the best service rather than flocking to the monopoly that offers service in their area.

          Newsflash - this isnt happening. Turns out no one wants to invest in another set of wires to your home, so ISPs tend to fall into basic duopolies or monopolies. When both Comcast and AT&T decide to slow down torrents or competing VOIP, which they have done, then there's really no one else to go to. Thus, the demand for legislation.

          What the "free market over all" kiddies dont understand is that there are natural monopolies and duopolies. Not everything falls into the 'marketplace' model of having lots and lots of competitors fighting over your dollar.

        • Re:We told you. (Score:5, Informative)

          by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:15AM (#30933450) Homepage

          If there were true competition in the market, the government wouldn't need to do anything.

          Absolutely. As we all know, it's only government intervention that causes a monopoly or cartel to form in the first place. Left to itself, a market would never do this, because companies are far too nice and dumb, and would rather compete fairly for equal shares of the market than bribe and blackmail their customers to completely screw over and crush their competitors.

          Also, my doorbell just rang - it's Alyson Hannigan, naked and horny. Riding a pink unicorn. It's OK though - she brought her Evil Twin along for you.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Abcd1234 (188840)

          If there were true competition in the market...

          And if magical fairies existed, we could all fly to never-never land.

          Hint: If the world doesn't work the way you want, passing laws and regulations as if it did results in *broken laws and a broken system*.

        • Natural monopoly (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jonaskoelker (922170)

          If there were true competition in the market, the government wouldn't need to do anything.

          Right. But there won't be.

          Last mile wiring is a natural monopoly: there's a high cost to burying the fibre that goes to your house. Most likely you're only going to be a customer at one ISP. If you want, say, five competitors, that means four unused wires.

          That means each ISP has to charge each customer on average at least five times what it cost to bury the fibre.

          It would be much more effective to bury one set of wires, have one organization maintain that set of wires, and then let different companies co

      • Re:We told you. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by fusiongyro (55524) <faxfreemosquito@yahoo. c o m> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:49AM (#30933124) Homepage
        Actually, it was better. Consumers put up a big fuss and Comcast changed their policy. Do you think they're likely to respond that well to their customers' rage once they have governmental backing for their anti-consumer policies?
        • by ClintJCL (264898) <clintjcl+slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:52AM (#30933160) Homepage Journal
          Do you think the government involvement somehow reduces the value of customer rage?
          • by BronsCon (927697)

            Unfortunately, yes, it does.

            Fortunately, I'm starting to see more and more citizen rage as a result.

        • by sorak (246725)

          Actually, it was better. Consumers put up a big fuss and Comcast changed their policy. Do you think they're likely to respond that well to their customers' rage once they have governmental backing for their anti-consumer policies?

          Hold on.....right now, they can get away with whatever the hell they want, and they folded under bad publicity. So, when this proposal is released, it will say that they can do whatever the hell they want. And you think they will respond to customers by saying "we know you're pissed, but the government said we can't be fined over it"?

          I know Comcast has bad customer service, but they aren't _that_ bad.

      • by selven (1556643)

        It's not that the government should do nothing, the government should take control of the infrastructure and let any company provide internet service over it. That would create competition, and would be better than government-mandated net neutrality and the status quo.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JWW (79176)

        Yes it would be. We are now faced with ALL ISPs being FORCED to block bittorrent.

        Before some companies were choosing to block bittorrent and getting bad press because of it.

        Now government regulation could screw everyone and there will be nothing we could do about it.

        It appears that the government getting involved in net neutrality could make things much much worse.

        It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly adept the government is at taking something the people want, working on it, and then delivering somet

    • by mikael_j (106439)

      The problem isn't that it's government-mandated, the problem is that it's mandated by a government that doesn't fear the voters and will gladly let itself be bought by wealthy special interest groups.

      Unfortunately more and more governments are adopting this view of the world...

      /Mikael

      • The voters are the ones that vote in the politician in the first place. The "blame big business" schtick is just an easy way for voters to excuse their own ignorance and poor voting behavior.

    • Question for you... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by copponex (13876) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:59AM (#30933262) Homepage

      Do you think you'll get more of a response if you write your senator or the CEOs of Comcast and AT&T and Verizon?

      If there were no regulation against monopolies, internet service would almost certainly be in the hands of one. They wouldn't ask anyone for permission to block any protocol, they would just do it. (CEO Bob wants another 10% to the bottom line? No problem... shut down port 25 and double the price of mail storage.) Not to mention the fact that without serious investment by DARPA, the internet may not have existed in the first place.

      When a functioning democracy is in place, you can affect change with your vote, and it barely costs you anything except your time. That's supposed to be the equalizer for corporate power, since you're not going to have as much money as anyone in the Fortune 10,000 (if there is such a thing). When there's not even a mechanism in place to reign in business shenanigans, they just have to hold back enough so there aren't riots. Unless they can figure out a way to make money from riots.

      We are supposed to be a constitutional republic, which holds everyone equal in the eyes of the law, which should be written by the society as a whole -- not just the rich and powerful. This is specifically due to the abuses of the monarchies and churches and companies that dominated society at the time of our founding, and continue today. Once again, the answer to a non-functioning democracy is a functioning one. Throwing away the government check to corporate power won't do anyone a damn bit of good, except for the people who own the corporations.

    • MindlessAutomata, that is an excellent point. Break up the ISP oligarchy and return control to the consumer and you need not involve government. Although, government will become involved because the telecom weenies will start crying unfair competition. They will start spewing their hypocritical rhetoric.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gad_zuki! (70830)

      They already have the right to block all torrents if they pleased. They are privat companies with very few regulations. Companies already block copyright materials via DMCA take down requests. These guidelines change nothing, except put in some sane rules regarding the payola tiered web companies like Comcast want to put in. Im sure your anti-government screed is very convincing to young republicans, I mean libertarians, but this all looks like a lot of fearmongering from the eff.

      • Im sure your anti-government screed is very convincing to young republicans, I mean libertarians, but this all looks like a lot of fearmongering from the eff.

        DMCA

        Mmm-hmmm....

  • by Tei (520358) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:40AM (#30933008) Journal

    Stupid. As people will just change protocol, so.. what will you do? repeat your strategy? then enter on a tecnological battle where you ban thinks that "look" like suspicious "bad" traffic. How much time will this war need to result on a almost totally broken internet where all applications that need reliable latency fail for not apparent reason?

    Do not start trowing rocks, if you live in a cristal house, concast.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:41AM (#30933014)
    You expected "net neutrality" regulations to call for actual neutrality? Of course it was going to have some caveat in it to allow ISP's to regulate traffice the government doesn't want to flow.
    • by slifox (605302) *
      This reminds me of a perfect quote from one of my favorite shows, "Yes, Minister" -- a show that is a hilariously accurate depiction of beaurocracy...

      "...but I thought we were calling the whitepaper 'Open Government'?"

      "Yes, well... always dispose of the difficult bit in the title -- it does less harm there than in the text!
      It's the law of inverse relevance -- the less you intend doing about something, the more you have to keep talking about it"
  • well... (Score:3, Informative)

    by polle404 (727386) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:47AM (#30933092)

    Here you go, your neutrality regulations,
    bought and paid for by your local, friendly *AA.

    no no, no need to give thanks, they're here for you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Shakrai (717556)

      bought and paid for by your local, friendly *AA.

      What, you didn't think that all that Hollywood support for the Democratic Party came without strings attached, did you?

  • by ZombieRoboNinja (905329) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:48AM (#30933102)

    I'm guessing this is less an unintentional "loophole" than a very intentional concession to the lobbyists who are writing this bill.

    The only reason Congress cares about "Net Neutrality" is that some big tech companies like Google are lobbying hard for it, while big service providers like Comcast are lobbying against it. But since neither group actually cares about your right to use BitTorrent, the RIAA lobbyists are free to stick in some extra restrictions like this.

    I'm ever so glad the Supreme Court thinks these corporate groups should have even MORE influence over our elections.

  • by Psyborgue (699890)
    They're so much better. Aren't they? Aren't you glad this is left up to the government now rather than individual service providers? Aren't you glad you won't have a choice anymore?
    • Re:Yay Democrats (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DaMattster (977781) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:59AM (#30933254)
      Trouble is, the democrats always want start with a compromise. When you are in a debate cum argument, you never start with a compromise. You do your best to get your way in totality. This is where the republicans succeed, they are ruthless and merciless about pushing their views and only seek bipartisanship when they have exhausted all possible angles.
    • Umm... You do have a choice. The FCC is setting the minimum floor of neutrality. ISPs can still compete on raising that bar, even though they won't (and despite your utopian fantasies, would not have done so without FCC regulation either). Not to mention that this is an FCC draft; the Democrats have only marginal influence over the outcome of a draft produced primarily by civil servants.
  • Someone has to say it: The more things change, the more they stay the same. If torrents and other "legal" P2P sharing is allowed to be blocked, what is the point of this entire legislation? My impression of the FCC was that it was supposed to promote and ensure fairness amongst the telecom and internet providers. I was sincerely hoping that the FCC would grow a spine.
  • by nweaver (113078) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:57AM (#30933230) Homepage

    The key word here is: " unlawful transfer of content"

    The reason BitTorrent has not suffered the fate of Napster is that there is significant noninfringing uses, ranging from Linux ISOs to public broadcasting to companies like Vuse which use BitTorrent for purely legal, liscenced content.

    Thus you could do blocking of specific torrents under this proposed regulation, but you couldn't block all bittorrent.

    It is questionable to include, because I don't like the idea of copyright enforcement in the wire (its too easy to abuse), but the headline is wrong: this would not block BitTorrent.

    • by PolyDwarf (156355) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:07AM (#30933342)

      Let's do a little thought-excercise here.

      Comcast Guy 1 : Oooh, I see User Joe is running BitTorrent.
      Comcast Guy 2 : Why, I think you're right. Let's ban his ass.
      Comcast Guy 1 : Now, wait just a minute, Comcast Guy 2.. We don't know whether it's legal or not.
      Comcast Guy 2 : Hmm... You may be right about that. Let's ban him anyways, and see if he complains. After all, he might be pirating valuable NBC programming, like the Tonight Show with Jay Leno! And if we don't stop him now, we will cease to be!
      Comcast Guy 1 : My God... you're right.

      Seriously, do you think, in any plane of the multiverse, that Comcast would do the research to find out if the torrent the user was sending was legal, as opposed to block now and ask question later? Especially with them getting into content ownership, as well as being a content deliverer?

      Let's take a look at the DMCA, and see how often companies that send DMCA notices really care about doing the research, and how often it backfires on them. Well, it does backfire on them from time to time, but are there actual consequences beyond Slashdot laughing at them?

      No.

      • The bigger question I see is HOW would they find out whether or not what he's downloading is legal? The only way to know is to invade his privacy.

        Personally, I don't want my traffic blocked or my privacy invaded. I want option C, which has yet to pop up anywhere in a concrete form.

    • by Thaelon (250687)

      But see, they're just going to call it unlawful, then block it. It doesn't matter one whit whether it is or not.

      It's up to your to prove it isn't. Of course it'll take 18 months to resolve.

    • by perlchild (582235) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:34AM (#30933748)

      The way I read this, net neutrality means they not only can't block traffic without proving that it's unlawful, but traffic not proven unlawful should be allowed to block other presumed lawful traffic(pipe saturation). I mean I've not seen anything in there that's not just a fancy way to call QoS. Of course QoS with a 1kb/s class is no fun, and almost blocking it... but unless the legalese actually defines a minimum QoS as "blocking" it's not legally blocking... Also, if a provider like comcat can give a QoS of 10kb/s, and assign all youtube traffic to it unless youtube pays, we're back to the "paying twice for the same traffic" case.

      On the other hand, the FCC cannot do what network neutrality proponents most want it to do: mandate network (mostly backbone, but also edge in some cases) upgrades.

      So it's mostly a catch-22.

      I think the only thing that would work is a law that says a network cannot discriminate by source, target, protocol or source/target ports without proof of wrongdoing is the only thing that would work. Of course, the providers would scream that they can't. What they mean is that they can't without admitting just how poorly provisioned their networks really are.

      As per your arguments they can't block... The idea is for a law to tell them what they can't do to unknown traffic. Known unlawful traffic, well they already have other laws for them, they don't need to QoS it, except to protect other customers. If they send the FBI to the tracker's location, you can be sure the torrent won't be on long, in that case though, they need to have(well so far, although they've been exceptions) a lot more evidence than just an overloaded network...

  • So bit torrent gets blocked? The neat thing about innovation is that it out paces legislation. There will be another technology that will come out to replace bit torrent in P2P that will defeat Comcast's Great Firewall.
  • It could work almost identically to BitTorrent and no sane ISP would block HTTP.

    Anyone interested in working on a FOSS implementation, PM me.

  • When they were going after P2P networks like Napster and Kazaa, you could argue the merits of what the technology could be used for versus what it was actually being used for.

    However, BitTorrent sees very widespread legitimate use that you can't argue with. And honestly, in those legit cases, blocking BitTorrent won't reduce network traffic, but instead shift it back into the FTP/HTTP client-server model, instead of allowing BitTorrent to distribute the load among people who already have the data.

  • by Ant P. (974313) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:08AM (#30933360) Homepage

    If they block bittorrent, they'll suddenly have millions of WoW players at their main offices with pitchforks and torches demanding to know why they can't update...

  • Does the regulation mention BitTorrent, or is this just the author's interpretation?

    Any time someone says "Law X would let Person Y do Z by claiming A, B, and C", take it with a grain of salt. Sure, they can claim that blocking BT is a reasonable restriction, and then it would be up to the courts to decide if it really is. If the court decides not, then blocking BT is illegal. Anyone can claim whatever they want; and look how well that worked for SCO in the long run.

    Might the court reach the wrong conclu

  • by TheSync (5291) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @03:04PM (#30938520) Journal

    Who could have predicted that more government regulation of the Internet might have a downside?

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