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Networking EU Technology

Europe's 'Net Neutrality' Could Allow Throttling of Torrents and VPNs (torrentfreak.com) 161

An anonymous reader writes: TorrentFreak reports that the European Parliament is approaching a vote on new telecom regulations that aim to implement net neutrality throughout EU member states. Unfortunately, the legislation hinges on a few key amendments, and experts are warning about the consequences should those amendments fail to pass. "These amendments will ensure that specific types of traffic aren't throttled around the clock, for example. The current language would allow ISPs to throttle BitTorrent traffic permanently if that would optimize overall 'transmission quality.' This is not a far-fetched argument, since torrent traffic can be quite demanding on a network." That's not the only concern: "Besides file-sharing traffic the proposed legislation also allows Internet providers to interfere with encrypted traffic, including VPN connections. Since encrypted traffic can't be classified though deep packet inspection, ISPs may choose to de-prioritize it altogether."
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Europe's 'Net Neutrality' Could Allow Throttling of Torrents and VPNs

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  • by melmut ( 968751 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @02:21AM (#50785775)
    If some ISP starts "de-priotizing" all ecnrypted traffic, they'll soon have 95% de-priotized, which will make it useless anyway.
    • Whether the governments like it or not, the use of VPN and encryption is on the rise by businesses around the world

      My companies, for example, rely on VPN and encryption for all inter-office data traffic, and if EU starts to de-prioritize VPN and/or encrypted traffic many business communication will be hit

      • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @03:48AM (#50785971)

        Whether the governments like it or not, the use of VPN and encryption is on the rise by businesses around the world

        . . . it's not just businesses . . . but governments, as well, who use VPNs.

        So when those Eurocrats in Belgium realize that their VPN is being throttled, they will suddenly change their minds.

      • My companies, for example, rely on VPN and encryption for all inter-office data traffic, and if EU starts to de-prioritize VPN and/or encrypted traffic many business communication will be hit

        That's okay. You simply make "unthrottled encrypted traffick" a feature offered for business-class connections. Private persons don't have secrets unless they're terrorists.

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @02:28AM (#50785793)
    So they de-prioritize things. That's fine. The competition between ISPs is enough to have some cater to the edge cases. So long as they don't sell a "prioritized" VPN service above what anyone else can provide on their network, I would be happy with the "problems" listed in the summary. They aren't problems, and are fair and equitable.
    • Re:Not a problem (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kangsterizer ( 1698322 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @02:37AM (#50785817)

      Not sure how thats not a problem. Its always how this starts. grab a part of it. then fuck up everything over time.

      You will not know if torrent, your game, your mail, or http traffic needs to be throttled. They will decide on that and make the numbers say anything they want to get a financial advantage. That's what they do.

      • Re:Not a problem (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @02:56AM (#50785849) Journal

        It depends on your definition of 'net neutrality'.

        1 - Every packet is of equal weight and value, irrespective of content
        2 - Every packet is of equal weight and value, irrespective of source or destination
        3 - both of the above

        Where bandwidth demand is greater than availability - i.e. 6pm on a Sunday on residential networks - something has to give.

        I'm very comfortable with my ISP choosing not to take option 1 if it means that packets for online gamers get low latency, video streams don't buffer and web browsing remains interactive. If that means someone's Linux distribution takes another two minutes to download, then that's a reasonable use of the available resources.

        Where I dig my heels in on net neutrality is option 2. If the ISP prioritises its own video streaming service ahead of others, its own gaming service ahead of others, its favourite partners' websites ahead of others, then it's prejudicing the market and acting in bad faith.

        So no, do traffic shaping by all means. It's a reasonable and proportionate approach to assuring quality of service. Just do it for all packets of that type.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          The difference between (1) and (2) is largely meaningless for net neutrality. If your ISP wants to extort money out of Netflix, say, they can just de-prioritize the type of streaming video packets that they use. They will find a way to affect just Netflix and maybe a few collateral minor services based on packet content.

          The only solution that won't be open to abuse is to treat all packets equally. The only solution to bandwidth being exceeded by demand is to add more bandwidth, or to work with content provi

          • I'm tempted to say this isn't a particularly big deal in Europe - if an ISP trys to pull this kind of stunt then the content provider will announce what's happening and folks will just switch ISP. Compare to the US where this *is* a problem because the end users generally don't have a choice of ISP - if the ISP decides to hold Netflix to ransom then Netflix can't just tell their customers to switch ISP.

        • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

          I'm very comfortable with my ISP choosing not to take option 1 if it means that packets for online gamers get low latency, video streams don't buffer and web browsing remains interactive. If that means someone's Linux distribution takes another two minutes to download, then that's a reasonable use of the available resources.

          I'm very comfortable with my ISP choosing not to take option 1 if it means that packets for my Linux distribution download get low latency, my porn movies don't buffer and whatever the h

          • by Cederic ( 9623 )

            Sounds fair to me, but not that I'm not requiring that my traffic takes priority over your traffic.

            I'm asking that quality of service is a core part of the offering, and acknowledging that not all traffic has the same needs.

            If my youtube uploads make your porn movies buffer then that's a bad thing. If your linux download makes my gaming suck then that's a bad thing.

            Ideally we both flood our upstream and downstreams with no impact on each other. Where the ISP identifies that they can't make that possible, ra

            • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

              Where the ISP identifies that they can't make that possible, rather than both of us suffer I'm comfortable with some intelligent prioritisation.

              I'm not. Who am I, you, some network engineer, or some pencil pusher at determining the importance of one packet over another?

              You clearly do want option 1, where your traffic is given priority and fuck everyone else.

              No. I was being facetious with my comment. I want my packets to be treated exactly the same as every other packet. No more. No less. If my traffic caus

          • You don't even benefit from low latency on a Linux distro download as long as the total incoming bandwidth is the same.

        • So no, do traffic shaping by all means. It's a reasonable and proportionate approach to assuring quality of service. Just do it for all packets of that type.

          No. For god's sake, no, don't do traffic shaping, a small handful of important and ultra-well-known protocols (e.g. SIP) aside. Just deliver my goddamned packets, use as much of the link as you can, and serve customers round-robin. Nothing else. ISPs trying to get smart about traffic shaping actually just ruins everything. Any new kind of traffic gets shaped incorrectly.

          • by Cederic ( 9623 )

            So don't traffic shaping, except do?

            We seem to be agreeing.

            • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

              I say Don't do traffic shaping. Why should SIP and RSTP get special treatment. Is my skype call less important? If you allow shaping of even the 'ultra well known protocols' than you effectively choke off innovation.

              So nobody can ever get a better voip protocol out the door because the network treats it like shit so for practical use it ends up being inferior. We have enough issues like proxies and NATs that can't deal with non http protocols in the case of proxies, and NATs that don't handle anything t

            • So don't traffic shaping, except do?

              No. Don't shape streaming traffic. Just throw it into the bulk bin. And don't shape most of the traffic that you claim needs shaping, because it makes the problem worse and not better. Your logical fallacy is moving the goalposts.

          • I'm pretty sure QoS of this kind has been around since the days of dial-up. Your approach only works when equal requirements are placed on packets by all services. This is not the case. Some services work fine when a packet doesn't make it to the destination at all. Others shit themselves when a packet arrives a little too late or in the wrong order.

            Think of it the same as not having your passport sent via regular mail, but rather with tracking and a signature to receive.

          • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
            AQMs solve the issues people have with QoS and traffic shaping. Instead of doing strict prioritizing, sprase flows get strict priority and heavy flows get bandwidth evenly distributed. http://www.bufferbloat.net/pro... [bufferbloat.net]
        • So no, do traffic shaping by all means. It's a reasonable and proportionate approach to assuring quality of service. Just do it for all packets of that type.

          Or they could always do something novel like not oversubscribe their service or build out their infrastructure to actually support what they are selling.

          Traffic shaping at the local network level where the administrators actually know what type of traffic is important to them is fine. Shaping at the provider level is ridiculous as it will always unfairly hinder someone (why should your gaming/streaming/backups/pr0n/etc... be more important than whatever I am doing? Why should whatever I'm doing be more impo

          • by Cederic ( 9623 )

            I don't care how beautifully elegant, lean and efficient my voice communications protocol is, if there's a three second pause between words because some cunt's hogging the bandwidth watching cat videos then we're not talking.

            Investing in infrastructure is sensible, but don't pretend you can design latency requirements out of everything. You can't.

        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          If they're doing all that packet inspection anyway, they can do proper fair queueing. Each customer is assigned their fair share of the total uplink for their area and each queue is allowed to borrow as much as is available from under-used queues.

          Suddenly everyone gets their fair share without regard to what they're communicating with, where it is, or over what protocol. Further, they can keep their fingers out of the payload and just look at the src and dst fields of the header.

    • The problem with the language they used is that any protocol they can't explicitly classify can be assumed to be encrypted. You run the risk of an unencrypted Youtube video getting prioritized over games, or whatever else is using custom protocols.

      They should not be the ones to hold these reins. And I think that's the whole hold-up -- their focus is obviously that they want control, not so much that they want to limit bandwidth. Really, pretty much everyone involved who they consider a bandwidth hog would b

    • That's fine. The competition between ISPs is enough to have some cater to the edge cases.

      Not where I live. We have a choice between 2 ISPs, and I'm pretty damn sure they make illegal price fixing arrangements. Both offer the same packages, pester you with advertisement calls for mobile services and streaming TV bullshit, and have the same incompetent and impotent tech service with a 1/2 to 1 hour call queue.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It's a huge problem because many people don't have a choice of ISP. I can only get Virgin, for example, because my BT line doesn't support ADSL.

    • by delt0r ( 999393 )
      We would get ISP that would advertise that they don't throttle. I get my full 15MB 24/7 here. I can't see why they would start throttling. They are not about to just have half the fiber go dark.. cus profits. Since it won't affect profits. Not using infrastructure you already have doesn't save money.
  • by jjbarrows ( 958997 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @02:40AM (#50785819) Homepage

    If they are allowed to set priorities for different traffic, how is this a net neutrality bill?

    • Sounds Orwellian to me, but that's the default state of the EU.
    • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @04:29AM (#50786037) Journal

      I though net neutrality is frequently confused with QoS.

      Throttling all VPNs is net neutrality. Throttling all VPNs except those provided by the ISP isn't. Net neutrality is about being neutral as to the source/destination/provider, not the protocol. It's to stop the ISPs abusing their service provider positions to make their versions of services better than everyone else's by artificially damaging other people's.

      Don't get me wrong, it's still crappy, but I always thought the point of network neutrality was to level the playing field for service providers, not protocols.

      • While you have a sane view of network neutrality, not everyone subscribes to it. The reality is that different protocols have different foot prints and are not all equal. It makes little sense to pretend that they are -- and when you do handle traffic as if each and every packet was equal and equivalent then you get problems.

        One example is bit torrent. It is one of the most abusive network protocols in use. It is resource intensive (e.g., routing overhead for 1:1 connections like http are far less than that

        • Like I said on another post, the problem is that if an ISP wants to prioritize their own service over others, there's nothing stopping them from trivially modifying an existing protocol, calling it a new protocol, and prioritizing that over other protocols of the same nature.

          The solution to bandwidth hogs like p2p is per-user bandwidth control. If user A is using tiny amounts of bandwidth but user B is using a ton, then you prioritize user A's packets. If someone wants to suck down tons of bandwidth, then

          • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
            Instead of providing the bandwidth paid for, people who roll-over for abusive ISPs by using less bandwidth, should get rewarded by getting priority over those who make use of their paid service. My argument is not against small ISPs, but normal sized ones where bandwidth is a rounding error compared to other costs.
        • While I am a strong proponent of network neutrality as you describe it, there is a case to be made for handling packets different based on who is involved (even if the technical details are tricky).

          No, handling packets differently based on who is involved is pretty much the opposite of neutrality.

          Neutrality should mean that the specific source, destination, and content of a packet (including things like the "protocol" and "port" fields) have no effect on prioritization. Data which can influence prioritization includes the level of service the customer purchased, whether or not the packet must be routed outside the ISP's own network, general statistics about the customer's network traffic like historic

        • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
          On average, P2P is now a small percentage of download bandwidth, but you may have a bias with lots of college students.
      • Throttling all VPNs is net neutrality. Throttling all VPNs except those provided by the ISP isn't. Net neutrality is about being neutral as to the source/destination/provider, not the protocol. It's to stop the ISPs abusing their service provider positions to make their versions of services better than everyone else's by artificially damaging other people's.

        OK, picture this. The ISP comes out with their own proprietary protocol to stream their video service, maybe just a special data format within HTTP packets - after all, a different protocol could technically be at any level of the protocol stack. Their protocol gets prioritized, while the competitors' protocol gets de-prioritized. The ISP is technically only throttling based on protocol, not source/destination.

        The ISP version of Murphy's Law: If it can be abused, they will find a way.

    • by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @05:16AM (#50786109)
      Net neutrality is all about making sure the traffic is not filtered by content, what packet you have on port 80 should not be prioritized because it is coming from cnn.com while the one from say, google.com is throttled because they did not pay an extra fee. It is also about making sure too that the content of the packet is not what decide the throttling, but the functionality and network status. IOW throttling not based on content and origin/destination.
  • How exactly is torrent traffic impactful on an ISP network? they're just routing packets around (okay, maybe you need a larger routing table?), it's the nodes that have to do most of the work. Unless they're using carrier-grade NAT, in which case get IPv6 working you lazy b*s.

    Also, looking forward to seeing http encapsulated VPNs!

    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      1/6 of the downstream traffic and 1/3 of the upstream traffic is impactful on an ISP network because it consumes resources that would otherwise be available for other uses, and/or requires the ISP to invest in additional infrastructure to prevent that traffic impacting other uses.

      it's the nodes that have to do most of the work

      You appear to come from a world that has infinite speed zero latency networks. Welcome to Earth, where we have an internet that requires switches, routers, fibre optics and complex networking.

      • 1/6 of the downstream traffic and 1/3 of the upstream traffic is impactful on an ISP network

        Maybe I missed it, where are those numbers coming from?

        Also, let's say it is 1/6th or even 1/3rd of the traffic, that doesn't say anything about the capacity.

        because it consumes resources that would otherwise be available for other uses

        Ignoring the distinction between traffic and capacity, your argument is "if the traffic wasn't being used for what the subscribers wanted to use it for, it could be used for..." what exactly?

        and/or requires the ISP to invest in additional infrastructure to prevent that traffic impacting other uses.

        Yes, ISPs need to invest in infrastructure to ensure the service level they sell meets the real world wants and needs of the customers they sell it to. And the pro

        • by Cederic ( 9623 )

          Maybe I missed it, where are those numbers coming from?

          Online references located via Google search results. Those were 2013 numbers, more recent statistics may vary.

          The precise numbers don't matter, and actual capacity also doesn't matter. Your question was "How exactly is torrent traffic impactful on an ISP network?" and my response is that torrent traffic is a meaningful percentage of the network use for an ISP.

          Since the ISP invests resources in providing a network, it's pretty obvious that the ISP is investing resources in meeting the demands of torrent user

      • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
        You must be from a planet where Raspberry PIs cost $1.5k because there's no competition. But then you still claim we're getting a good deal because it's still faster and cheaper than an 8086.
        • by Cederic ( 9623 )

          Curious. Where did you read that I claim we're getting a good deal?

          I mean, I'm getting 160Mbps down and 12Mbps up, and within those bounds network performance and availability is excellent. I still pay too much and the upload is too low. It's not a bad deal, but I don't think I've claimed it's a good deal.

          A lot of people don't even have it that good. I acknowledge this. I also acknowledge that if provision of gig links up and down were trivial and cheap, we'd have them.

          • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
            Implied in this. You assume it's impactful. It's only impactful for ISPs that are wasteful and slow. Slow networks are expensive because they go out of their way to do things inefficiently. Fast networks are cheap because they reduce the number of expensive slow layers. If you had to choose between a single chassis that is $2k per customer and supports 5k customers at 1Gb/s with 4Tb/s of uplinks, or a copper node that is $10k per customer and supports 200 customers with a shared uplink of 10Gb. Which one wo
            • by Cederic ( 9623 )

              Slow networks are expensive because they go out of their way to do things inefficiently. Fast networks are cheap

              What the holy fuck. It's cheaper to have a fast network? Shit, all these ISPs, they've been doing it wrong all this time.

              You must be a billionaire, meeting public demand for ever increasing speeds by continually reducing your costs through enhancing your network to make it faster.

              Really?

    • you acknowledge, then dismiss, the most glaringly obvious problem with bit torrent (from a network provider point of view).

      Congratulations, but dismissing it doesn't make the problem go away. It does make it look like you have no understanding of the issues involved. Try working at an ISP sometime (or otherwise gain working, practical knowledge).

  • Err... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EmeraldBot ( 3513925 ) on Friday October 23, 2015 @02:52AM (#50785841)
    The torrent part I agree with: torrenting can be very demanding on the networks, and torrents are not used in applications that require real time. They'll be fine if their file transfers take a little bit longer. The encrypted traffic part though - a lot of traffic nowadays is encrypted, so that hardly helps. Furthermore, I don't think that punishing traffic that is encrypted is very fair: the performance overhead is not that great, and I don't understand the obsession with people wanting to monitor and inspect everything. Even in Germany it's a pitiful state of affairs, though not as bad as the US or England. Watching me browse Slashdot is supposed to further secure the state, ja? I don't feel any more secure, and I doubt anyone else does either. I'm very surprised they are as free with it as they are actually; although all (I hope!) banking sites are encrypted nowadays, if they were to read my bank statements unencrypted, I believe that may expose them to a lawsuit from myself...?
    • Because the ISP can't tell what is being encrypted. Naturally, if torrents are throttled and encrypted streams aren't, then all P2P data sharing will move to encrypted.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Torrents are used for real-time streaming video, e.g. Popcorn Time.

      It's not just that torrent transfers will take a bit longer. ISPs will severely limit them, so that services that use Bittorrent will grind to a near complete halt at times when people want to use them. Lots of services, such as Amazon S3, Vodo, NRK, Blizzard's game distribution system, Wargaming's distribution system, the UK government, research data distribution and the Internet Archive will be affected.

      We have seen it before, it's not jus

    • The torrent part I agree with: torrenting can be very demanding on the networks, and torrents are not used in applications that require real time.

      Depends on HOW they implement this. It's a busy day let's blanket slow all P2P is a dumb way to do it when international lines are clogged but local peers are underutilised. Setting it to a fixed speed is also dumb compared to dynamically adjusting as a percentage of pipe capability. Likewise torrents should be treated equally the same as any larger download, why should my 20MB torrent be slowed but someone downloading a 40MB TIFF file not be?

      This isn't as simple as many people make out. QoS is still requir

  • Net Neutrality is needed in the US because there's essentially no competition. It's a regulation on a monopoly operator.

    Many European countries have competition in the telecoms sector. Any action perceived as unfair throttling will see their customers go elsewhere.

    The problem is, regulation is a blunt instrument. If I want decent broadband speed for Netflix, I don't care if everything else is slower. However, it might be in Netflix's interests to offer ISPs a cut to allow higher broadband speeds for it
  • and start deprecating ALL unencrypted protocols.

    Establish a new connection dispatch service that all all other services would use. All interconnections would first establish a connection to the dispatch, which would establish a TLS or PGP type of encrypted session, and THEN transit information about which service to connect to.

    • Why would anyone switch to encrypted if unencrypted packets get higher priority?


  • It's about time we update bittorrent with better security/encryption and something less easily detectable.

    We will all make our own net neutrality when everything is encrypted and nothing can be prioritised. Pros and cos but it's better than "net neutrality" IMO.
  • The trend is for everything to become encrypted, anyway - so the whole thing will be moot.

    Even our company's website defaults to https and we're not even a tech company. YouTube defaults to https. Google. Farcebook, Reddit. (Slashdot seems to be one of the few that don't).

    If they start throttling a protocol, people will start making it look like https to work around the throttling - use port 443 and TLS 1.2.

  • Really, a bunch of torrenting whiners whine because the proposed regulation acknowledges that ISPs have a legitimate interest in QoS, and that this might impact their download speeds.

    Get in your thick heads: Net Neutrality is not about freedom to download, it is about forbidding discriminating traffic based on the endpoints.

  • It sucks, but is still better than the present non regulation.

  • Again, there's no good reasons for non-encrypted traffic. No one should be having to decide just what bits of their online life they are ok with businesses and governments picking over for information to use against them, and which things they are not ok with that. Especially since humans are the worst at recognizing in the short term what will be relevant to those malignant interests. At what point did we decide that governments have the power to decide whether or when people are allowed to have private
  • This smells of another government attack on encryption, ALL encryption. It seems governments all over are so intent on surveillance that they will break anything to get it.

    And so, what could possibly go wrong with this deprioritization of encrypted traffic?

    - No chance of your banking app sensing problems with traffic and either terminating or restarting sessions? I know, there are few reasons to do that, and none technically sound. Assume, for the moment, that your bank has control over how their app wor

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