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ISP Giant Compares Its Filtering with a Busy Signal

Lawyers and privacy groups are reportedly “circling the waters” over Comcast, who stands accused of using an aggressive kind of traffic shaping that impersonates individual P2P users and compels their computers to automatically disconnect.

Comcast’s actions are perfectly permissible under the terms of use described in its contract with customers, which states that Comcast reserves the right to “refuse to upload, post, publish, transmit or store any information or materials, in whole or in part, that, in (its) sole discretion, is … undesirable or in violation of (the) agreement.”

However, many are concerned that Comcast’s actions with regards to BitTorrent traffic – that is, impersonating users’ computers – may not entirely be legal as many states have laws regarding impersonation. In the state of New York, for example, section 190.25 of the penal code describes the crime of “criminal impersonation in the second degree,” in which one may not “[pretend] to be a representative of some person or organization and does an act … with intent to obtain a benefit or to injure or defraud another.”

While legal grounds may be shaky at this point, the EFF has reported that it has received numerous calls from various firms that are considering legal action.

Meanwhile, Comcast has adjusted its response. The original response, says Brad Stone of The New York Times, seems to have caught Comcast’s PR department off-guard. The new response reads, “Comcast does not block access to any Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services like BitTorrent … we have a responsibility to provide all of our customers with a good Internet experience and we use the latest technologies to manage our network so that they can continue to enjoy these applications.”

The reality, however, is more complicated says Stone. Speaking on anonymity, a Comcast internet executive told The New York Times that Comcast was indeed manipulating traffic, through data management technologies designed to conserve bandwidth. As part of that process, the company will attempt to delay P2P traffic to preserve other users’ quality of service. He described the process as being akin to the busy signal in a phone call: users are perfectly able to hang up and try again later.

“In cases where peer to peer file transfers are interrupted,” writes Stone, “the software automatically tries again, so the user may not even know Comcast is interfering.”

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By Alexstarfire on 10/23/2007 5:08:35 PM , Rating: 2
I second that. Heaven forbid they do what they are supposed to do and improve their network as they get more customers. All these ISPs want to do now is keep the same bandwidth and just suck money from people. That's not right. I know not all ISPs are like that, but the big ones are. I want to be able to download as much as I want/can, for what I am paying. We may not have the most outrageous prices for internet service, but we certainly don't have the best either. I want what I paid for. What's the point in paying $60 a month for a 6MB connection if I can't even use it to get what I want, legal stuff.

P2P is gonna be around forever since it doesn't require the use of huge servers. May not give you the absolute fastest speeds, but it cuts out the huge costs associated with owning and operating a server. When some companies, or people, can't afford to own a server with TONS of bandwidth then this is the best option.

If they'd just improve the damn network with all the money we give them then not only would we end up with better service overall, but I'm sure that they would end up providing more customers with more bandwidth, faster speeds, in the long run. Of course that requires a lot of hard work, and we all know that "hard work pays off in the future, laziness pays off now" as my T-Shirt says.

By DigitalFreak on 10/23/2007 5:12:37 PM , Rating: 3
aka - Having their cake and eating it too.

By tdktank59 on 10/23/2007 5:40:06 PM , Rating: 2

Ive got comcast and ive had it for about 4+ years now...

The next best thing in our area is i belive dialup... so its a pain in the ass if we want highspeed since dsl isnt even offered in our area...

Im still waiting for Fios to come into my area...
But i wont get my hopes up... Ill probably not get that until i move for college and get it installed into my house where im going...

Anyways ive been noticing that the p2p downloads are going hell of a lot slower than they used to... On average before i used to get around 300+ kbs on each file now im lucky to get 20kbs...

I hope comcast is brought to court and looses big time...

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
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