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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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RE: I'm really torn on this.
By Alexstarfire on 10/23/2007 7:34:37 PM , Rating: 2
Well, if you got people that are only surfing and emailing then I doubt they have a 6MB connection or so anyways. Those are the people that benefit from having the 384mbps DSL lines. They are plenty fast enough to do surfing and emailing without tons of latency issues. They can also download files like 10x faster than dialup. It also costs about as much as dial up too.

The 6MB users and such are paying for this extra bandwidth. What's the point in having it if you can't even utilize it. My games don't need it, my surfing doesn't need it, my emailing doesn't need it. The only place I need it is for downloads. There are so many things that I can't download on the internet that it's not even funny. The only other places to get these things are P2P programs. You limit that and it can kill a lot of stuff.

I'll have to watch my download speed on bittorrent though. If they are consistently lower than what they normally are I'm gonna tell my dad to change our service. I'm not gonna be part of this throttled internet crap. Who are they to tell me what I can download and where I download it from when I AM PAYING THEM?


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