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Government The Internet United States

FCC's Net Neutrality Plan Blocks BitTorrent 303

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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  • 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 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.

  • Re:We told you. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:51AM (#30933142)

    You mean except for the simple fact that Comcast didn't actually change their policy despite saying they would?

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:12AM (#30933420)

    Did IPv6 include a flag in the IP header to mark the content as "Illegal"? Maybe we can use a reserved flag in IPv4 for the purpose?

    That way they can see what traffic is legit and just block what isn't. Simple :-)

  • by Hailth ( 1479371 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @12:39PM (#30935126) Journal

    AT&T never checks to see if my torrent traffic is legal. I can't participate in the Star Trek MMO beta because the only way to reliably get the client, without slamming the beta's patch servers, is using a torrent. I'd rant about how frustrating this all is, but they're about to disconnect me again for two minutes until I stop trying to not steal a game I was invited to play.

  • Re:We told you. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tacvek ( 948259 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @01:01PM (#30935672) Journal

    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 able to recover the costs of the cable. Since in a Co-op the the company would be responsible to the very people who use it, it would be effectively required to charge only what is needed to cover costs.

    DSL is actually a rather poor model though, since the DSLAMS are distance limited, and each company needs equipment at that location, meaning that additional competitors for DSL may end up raising the cost. But if we replaced twisted pair phone-lines with optical fiber, then we could achieve a similar set-up to cable, where each company only needs to have equipment at a small number of locations in the city, and we could perhaps get as many as 10-20 internet-over-fiber companies.

    That would result in say 16-26 different internet offerings, which means that there is a damn good chance the services would deliberately choose to differentiate themselves, giving users a real possibility of actual choice.

    Now, I will admit that that is all theoretical, and I may have missed one or more practical considerations, and that further, it really seems like there is no good way to transition to such a system from the current mess even assuming such a system is a good idea. (I tend to think it is, but that is hardly proof that it would work).

  • Re:Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Propaganda13 ( 312548 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @02:17PM (#30937310)

    US Postal system shut due to the ease of transfer copyright material as anonymous.

    Nice try but the postal services serves to deliver parcels from and to a person. A better example would be the illegal liquor runs during the US prohibition. They clearly delivered illegal goods but the vehicle used can also be used for the delivery of legal goods. Now if your roads are full of vehicles delivering illegal liquor because it is cheap and well invigorating, to the point that ambulances can't get to hospitals, you'll have to take action. Be it by the inspection of the vehicles, widening the roads, or simply by prohibiting all vehicles who transport anything that smell like liquor - yes, by installing a sniffer. Otherwise, you as the transportation secretary, will get complaints from people who are trying to get to the ball game on time.
    I'd say, widen the roads but there's a faily high price to pay for that especially since this may not resolve the problem but only provide temporary relief until even MORE vehicles begin to carry illegal liquor.
    I think everyone needs to be pragmatic and avoid dealing in absolutes.

    US Postal system analogy works ok. Generally, the US Postal service doesn't know if the package is copyrighted material and if the original sender is the copyright holder. USPS could delay and even open packages of certain types. Original senders can be anonymous using drop boxes.

  • Re:Well... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by OeLeWaPpErKe ( 412765 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @02:58PM (#30938372) Homepage

    And what if Comcast claimed that transferring bittorrent content puts unreasonable stress on the network ? It certainly puts higher-than-normal stresses on the network, and it necessitates massive capacity upgrades (like any other p2p application used to share large files) ?

    Bittorrent is a lot heavier on the net than, say http (and if you compare it with email or nntp, dear God is it heavier). Making a network capable of serving large amounts of bittorrent traffic therefore necessitates price rises on all customers, to pay for the extra infrastructure and links.

  • Re:I told you so (Score:3, Interesting)

    by T Murphy ( 1054674 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @06:15PM (#30942392) Journal
    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 with her sentiment, but I disagree that we have a competitive market. If communities owned the network so ISPs have equal access, we could have plenty of companies to choose from, and a demand for net neutrality would encourage some of those companies to cater to our interests. That is not the case right now, so government regulation is the best thing we have. There is a better chance of making the ISPs agree to net neutrality than getting them to agree to open up the market.
  • Re:I told you so (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @06:44PM (#30942862) Journal

    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 not saying I agree with this decision, but it sounds like you're saying, "See? The government didn't do it perfectly this time! THE GOVERNMENT ALWAYS LIES TO YOU AND YOU SHOULD TRUST THE FREE MARKET INSTEAD ALL THE TIME FOREVER." I don't see how that follows.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson