P2P Banned In Antarctica?

from the seems-a-bit-extreme dept

We know that there’s been an ongoing effort by entertainment industry lobbyists to convince politicians (and others) that file sharing and P2P apps are somehow to blame for stupid government staffers accidentally leaking files via those programs. Apparently the propaganda campaign has worked in at least one area: employees of the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) were sent an alert that they need to stop using all P2P programs. The “scenarios” described in the note are the same ones that entertainment industry lobbying group Arts+Labs has been spewing for a few years now. However, rather than assume that the real lesson is that users should actually understand the software they’re using on their computer, and make sure not to use it in a dumb way (such as exposing sensitive documents), the director of IT simply told everyone that while on Antarctica, they must disable any P2P apps on their computer. Hope no one there uses Skype to keep in touch with family…

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Comments on “P2P Banned In Antarctica?”

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Paul Brinker (profile) says:

All internet is P2P, If you follow the rule as written you cant connect to a DNS server because its P2P. I could understand bittorrant being blocked due to low bandwith (no land lines) but can someone tell the powers that be that you cant block P2P because at the most basic level thats how the net works.

Servers are just peers
Clients are peers
Routers are peers (dumb ones)
Printers are too (and one got a letter for downloading anyway)
Most peers are just forwarding points but their at the most basic level a box on the network.

Please for the love of all that is technology, stop the stupidity. Its going to take 20+ years to fix the stupidity when tech savy people finally make it to key goverment jobs.

Allen (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Appreciate the vision of utopia, but when I went to school a DNS client communicating with a DNS server was called “client/server mode”. The server is not your clients peer, it is the client’s server.

I read this as an IT department concerned about costs and security. Bandwidth costs to/from Antarctica cant be cheep. And IT departments paranoid over security are regrettably common.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Are U kidding? You want evidence that getting data to an unpopulated continent is not cheap? AT&T cites cost concerns as reasons we don’t get broadband to rural America!!

There are no undersea fiber cables connecting the metropolises of Antactica to the world. The Interwebs backbone does not make a stop in Antarctica. Geostationary communications satellites are positioned over the equator, and the signals are focused on populated regions, not Antarctica, which is as far away from the birds as possible, at a terrible ephemeris angle which cuts through the maximum amount of atmosphere.

But, you’re right. That’s just speculation. You wanted evidence. I guess I got nothing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Appreciate the vision of utopia, but when I went to school a DNS client communicating with a DNS server was called “client/server mode”.

Two peers operating in client server mode. That’s also the way file sharing programs work by the way.

The server is not your clients peer, it is the client’s server.

No, they are both peers even if one is currently a “client” and the other currently a “server”. Peer to peer means that they make information available directly to one another without intermediary network hosts or servers. This is what Paul meant when he said “at the most basic level that’s how the net works.”

Your confusion just goes to show how many people, like the politicians writing these laws, don’t understand that.

Yosi says:

Actually it's good idea

From IT perspective, it’s very good idea to disable all unnecessary applications.

And the real lesson is not “users should actually understand the software they’re using”. Lesson is that potentially dangerous software should not be there in a first place.

And NO, Paul Brinker, it’s not “All internet is P2P”. This is even technically not correct. Server is not peer (it’s _server_). Router is NEVER peer (it’s just _router_).

Lachlan Hunt (profile) says:

Paul, you’re making a strawman argument. As Yosi said, client/server architecture is not P2P, and no-one ever claimed to want to block that.

Clearly, in context, the USAP are using P2P as a synonym for file sharing applications like BitTorrent, KaZaA, etc. It seems they’re just ignorant of the fact that P2P is just a network architecture with many more applications beyond file sharing, like Skype for instance (Yes, I’m aware Skype can share files, but it’s different from other file sharing apps because requires the sender to do it manually, rather than allowing the recipient to simply request it).

Now, I can understand the USAP wanting to ban file sharing applications from work machines, which is a reasonable thing for organisations to do, for reasons of security, network congestion and bandwidth costs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Don’t know the details, but it seems to me that what’s really at issue is that either employees are connecting their personally-owned devices to the enterprise network–which is an unnecessary risk with or without P2P–or they’re installing unauthorized software on enterprise-owned computers–which means they have excessive user permissions and is also an unnecessary risk with or without P2P.

Sean T Henry (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“employees are connecting their personally-owned devices to the enterprise network” If so then IT has not done there job to prevent security problems and limit excess use of the network. If they are concerned with security they would have a mac address white list only allowing computers on the list to connect.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Um…they live down there too. If you were to go somewhere for a year or two of your life to do scientific research you might bring your personal computer along. I don’t think they can help that the only connection available is the “enterprise network”. Once FIOS or Comcrap are available down there I’m sure they will switch over from abusing the “enterprise connection” with their personal use….

Jay says:

Re: Connection Issues

Because of course, there are no scientific reasons to have a high bandwidth science project…

P2P could reduce the bandwidth if used appropriately. Banning a perfectly legitimate technology does not seem like a great idea when you have a land designed for scientific exploration and intended to share research among different nations. This is also not taking into consideration that bandwidth would not be much of an issue between different teams in different locations in Antarctica. Also weather conditions are not always conducive for meeting other people in person down there so Skype and other options might be a great idea between different scientists who are isolated in remote locations.

Wholesale banning is absurd and serves no practical purpose, but to allow record executives sleep knowing they have one continent locked down and prevented from furthering technical research. These are scientists down there and not groups of pirates or kids. Most of these guys are highly intelligent and you are not allowing them to fully explore or research to their fullest capability. There is no international law on this so I say let them do whatever progresses science in the best manner. If that means a couple of songs might be distributed, that is just the sacrifice needed to progress scientific research.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Connection Issues

Jay, you’re making a lot of assumptions as to what precisely was banned and why it was banned, just like Mike did. The blathering about international law is meaningless…the people who provide the equipment and bandwidth set the policy. Done. And record executives? Where did that come from other than Mike’s head?

Mike made the COLOSSAL leap that the reason for USAP banning P2P file sharing had something to do with the entertainment lobby. Where the HELL is that coming from? This post is scant on details, so who knows. Perhaps there was a legitimate incident which drove this change…it is not at all inconceivable…perhaps even likely given the boredom and isolation down there (form what I’ve read). I can tell you working for 15+ years in and around big corporate and government IT, there are a lot of stupid users who do stupid things even when they have PhDs and are otherwise smart folks…most of the policies I’ve seen are mandated for legal purposes or to prevent unknowledgeable or careless users form impacting themselves and the enterprise environment. The SIMPLEST explanation is that it is these motives – and not some convoluted impact by the entertainment lobby – that are at work. Methinks Mike is going the path of Oliver Stone on this one.

Jay says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:Connection Issues

When you are the only provider in a location there are certain responsibilities and one of them is to act as a dumb pipe and not restrict types of usage beyond overall impact to the network. Yes this is getting into net neutrality area. If this was not a monopoly then yes you have an argument that a company should do whatever is most profitable and not be concerned. As long as there is another choice available with an open internet option- then sure this is not a big problem. However there are no other options and they are restricting the ability of researchers to use a perfectly legal type of connection.

Antarctica is NOT corporate owned! It is not individual country claimed! The purpose of those who stay there is to conduct scientific research for the advancement of all nations. I’m not sure how there can be liability in a location that has no laws for any individual country. That is the exact concern of the entertainment industry. Any pipe in and out of Antarctica has no legal recourse, therefore it is best just to corporate control everything. This is the entertainment lobby at work and it is a restriction on freedom and it can impact our potential research and further-ment of humanity.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:Connection Issues

Jay, you’re way off. USAP ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Antarctic_Program ) is not an ISP for the continent. It is a government agency supporting US government-sponsored activities on the continent. This is not a matter of international law or net neutrality, etc. This is not a commercial enterprise or an international one. Is the US government…just like your local Social Security office.

And, again, your obsession with an entertainment industry conspiracy here is just not supported by any facts I’ve seen.

Jay says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:Connection Issues

Sorry, BobinBaltimore you know very little how the government works. The government never supplies these services directly. Services are always contracted out to a GSA approved ISP or provider. The ISP can choose what to provide unless the government states otherwise in the contract. Contracts are changed on a two to four year basis normally coinciding with the end of the fiscal year. This is a direct intervention when a change like this occurs and it is not in Nov. or in Jan. There has been no OMB directive recently to prevent P2P on ISPs. This smells of DOJ influence from all of the appointed entertainment industry people. There are no direct orders or laws stating that p2p limiting must occur. This is an attack on net neutrality and Mike is correct to call it out.

Yes if it was only prevented at the computer level that is okay because these are government supplied computers, but these scientist may have their own personal computers and there are international scientists using these connections. Therefore blocking on the ISP level is a severe over-reaction. Government computers do not allow root access, therefore installation on these machines should not occur unless hacked. The attack on the ISP is a restriction on personal use and the use from other countries which is a significant issue to be concerned about. Make no mistake this is an attack on net neutrality…

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:Connection Issues

How do you know this is blocked on the ISP level? Again with the assumptions.

All the ISPs I work with with carry everything. The security policies applied to those links is up to the contracting company or government entity. OMB does not set departmental security policy. Neither does GSA…they ensure that service providers and vendors meet standards set generally and by the purchasing department at hand, but that’s it. This is NOT net neutrality, which is the ISP unilaterally making decisions for CONSUMERS as to what flows and how much of it. This may be as simple as a single policy on a stupid redundant pair of firewalls operated by a government-employed network admin sitting in Iowa. You don’t know.

Again, your unfounded assumptions are driving you to unsupportable claims.

Jay says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:Connection Issues

I do know about this. It is not in Iowa and not a unilateral decision. A unilateral decision will never happen in government because it could break contracted terms. Companies working with the government will not take on additional chores or jobs unless required or ordered to do so. ISPs you work with are not government contracted and aren’t the only option in an isolated place like Antarctica. This is not your traditional ISP connection.

In this case the government employees and other researchers ARE the consumers.

You just don’t understand government. Most people don’t so it is not unusual. OMB sets government-wide policy that all agencies are required to follow. They can choose the means of following the directive ordered, but they can’t say no because OMB directives are high level executive orders- sometimes originating from the President. OMB does not set individual policy, but their orders must be written into the policy eventually decided on by the agency.

Also as an ISP contractor you must comply with GSA requirements or otherwise fall off of the GSA approved vendor listing, which will cause you to never get the next contract or lose your current contract. The ISP has very little decision making ability if the government orders a policy change. The government will remove you completely from the bidding unless you follow their requirements. This is why you never change your service unless it is ordered to be changed and why this cannot be any type of unilateral decision.

The government is stepping in and determining ISP use and how an ISP should operate. This is clear as day and you have to be an entertainment industry supporter or anti-innovation to not see this. The order itself linked by Mike is enough to support the claim. Also GAOInsider points out the House Committee meeting in July on this same subject.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:Connection Issues

Hold on now…where are you getting that any of this traffic is BLOCKED? Whether by the ISP or via network routing/security??

All the posted memo does is to REMIND people that it IS and HAS BEEN the policy of USAP to disallow ANY use of internet gaming, P2P or streaming media. And it tells them to uninstall any non-compliant software. There is no change to policy here and I have read nothing that says it’s BLOCKED.

The fact that streaming media is included in the rpe-existing ban says to me that bandwidth is the likely issue.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:10 It's like arguing with a table...

That’s me…Mr. Insider. Deep, deep inside just waiting for the talking points from the lobbyists and lawyers. Must be the case since it’s clearly not possible for anyone to have an honest disagreement with the self-appointed Proclaimers of Truth here on TechDirt. I’ll change my handle to BobInsider. Tom and AC, I bow to your collective outsiderness and intellect.

Actually, the only mistake I made was bothering to read the damn article that was posted. I’m quite aware of current events and I am quickly bechuckled at the rush to conspiracy on this simple, simple matter of enforcing an existing and really very reasonable policy for the sake of bandwidth.

And love the name-calling. Great contribution, you guys!

Jay says:

Re: Re: Re:11 It's like arguing with a table...

I never called you a name. Just made a parallel to something relevant. The fact you are getting called out doesn’t change the facts or your lack of being informed. Current events are not a strong point and this leads me to believe you might not be an insider, just woefully and inadequately informed on the argument at hand…

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:12 It's like arguing with a table...

Jay, you didn’t call me out, you dropped your argument after I exposed it as irrelevant to the topic at hand. You did provide some info on your view of government workings…thanks for that. You also misunderstand the notion of “consumer” versus “employee”…just because an employee consumes bandwidth does not mean they are a “consumer” in the retail sense. You further misunderstood the post thinking that something was being blocked, which it isn’t. Please, O Jay, explain to me how I am not up-to-date on current events and am inadequately informed. Just because you “smell” the entertainment industry’s influence doesn’t make it so.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Connection Issues

Mike made the COLOSSAL leap that the reason for USAP banning P2P file sharing had something to do with the entertainment lobby. Where the HELL is that coming from?

No, not a leap at all. The “examples” used in the letter to people on Antarctica came straight from Arts+Labs PR people. They’ve been sending out the same examples to politicians and the press for a couple years now. The example of Obama’s safe houses “being exposed via Limewire” is one that they’ve been widely promoting.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Connection Issues

Mike, this policy isn’t new. It’s been in place and includes gaming and streaming, which having nothing to do with the entertainment lobby. He included an example from freakin’ ComputerWorld….an obvious and well-discussed example to reinforce an existing policy which certainly appears, by virtue of the inclusion of gaming and streaming, to be bandwidth-related.

You are seeing demons where there are none…get off the hippie sauce! 🙂

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Connection Issues

Mike, this policy isn’t new. It’s been in place and includes gaming and streaming, which having nothing to do with the entertainment lobby. He included an example from freakin’ ComputerWorld….an obvious and well-discussed example to reinforce an existing policy which certainly appears, by virtue of the inclusion of gaming and streaming, to be bandwidth-related.

An example that was sent around to me, ComputerWorld and lots of others by…. Arts+Labs’ PR people. They created that story pretty much out of thin air.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Connection Issues

Okay…..so? Still a massive leap. And the memo is pretty clear that their definition of P2P refers to file sharing. Your injection of Skype was clearly splitting hairs to bolster your weak consternation and conspiracy theory. Normally, you’d tear apart a bridge this weak, so your coverage is very odd. Read Marty’s synopsis below for a much more reasonable, likely and complete explanation of the situation. Or are you an expert on Antarctic research outpost operations, too? 😉

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Connection Issues

Okay…..so? Still a massive leap.

Wait… what? It’s a “massive leap” to go through the following steps:

1. Arts+Labs puts out a series of press releases pushing made up stories about how Limewire is to blame for increasingly silly scenarios.
2. Reporters take those press releases and turn them into articles
3. Gov’t hearings commence about this “threat” of Limewire
4. Gov’t IT people point to such stories and hearings and say “no more P2P”

I think it’s a pretty direct step-by-step deal. No leap at all. In fact, it’s all pretty solid ground.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Connection Issues

Yes, as said before, this is only about a very limited bandwidth situation. One idiot wants to download an episode of Lost and eats the whole very limited data pipe. No one really cares about the piracy question, just to try to assure that the very limited data resources are available for the actual business at hand “scientific reasons”. If you think this is about “record executives” your probably think Antarctica doesn’t exist because you know that the world is really flat.

The South Pole doesn’t even have full-time access to the satellites; they’re often below the horizon.

> P2P could reduce the bandwidth if used appropriately.
No it couldn’t. The bottle neck is the bandwidth of a single pipe, and P2P wouldn’t help that at all.

There’s just not enough spare bandwidth to let every idiot who’s down there for six months to act like they have there own personal cable modem. They don’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Connection Issues

Never heard any complaints before from these guys on p2p. If it was such a problem, you would think that the researchers and others would be screaming about their slow connection down there. Bandwidth is an easy excuse that no one can really look into closely to prove false. Most of these guys know each other and everyone is probably watching that episode of Lost together while the -90 degree weather outside continues. If a little p2p is not getting any complaints, I’d say let it go because these guys are sacrificing a lot just being there. Another good idea is to sue our military for their p2p use while they are getting shot at. There are certain conditions we should probably overlook this kind of stuff even if what is occurring is not quite legitimate. There are levels of priority and most of us would rather let this go if it is not a real identified problem. Should be easy enough to justify if they do have some slow bandwidth complaints. No one will argue the move is not justified as long as those complaints exist…

Overall- Bandwidth = bullsh$t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Connection Issues

No it is more likely from this than any direct complaints.


There are bills being proposed to ban P2P right now. Trials are always best when you have a good excuse and limited population base affected = bandwidth limitations. Don’t be stupid…

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Perfectly Reasonable

There’s no controversy here, in my view. This is a very limited bandwidth situation. As with many corporations and government entities, it looks like the USAP wants to ensure that its (probably very expensive) bandwidth is not used for extraneous purposes. I agree with several above that their use of P2P seems to point to pure-play file sharing, not Skype and other types of services, though we’d need to ask them to clarify. And, frankly, for casual users, it is not at all unheard of for some unintended files to be shared out on some software, especially if it is misconfigured, so it is not inconceivable that this happened and the edict is partly a legitimate reaction to that.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Perfectly Reasonable

Thanks AC. I clearly meant casual users of this software. I live my life in IT, but I am surely a casual user (as opposed to expert user) of many applications. Just because you have a PhD doesn’t mean that you can intuit the configuration instructions for all software applications. Smart people make mistakes.

That aside, my point is that neither Mike nor this article actually reveal what drove the conclusion that this policy was appropriate. So, it’s all speculation, some of it more defensible than the rest.

GAOInsider says:

Re: Re: Re: Not Perfectly Reasonable

This action came from DOJ and congressional pressure. There is congressional pressure to make these changes at the ISP level due to other agency data loss through P2P(entertainment industry and DOJ study). Congress wants to get all ISPs to filter- even eventually on general public and commercial ISPs. This is the start of a net neutrality attack and an attack on P2P.

There was a house committee meeting over this subject in July. This is not normal or reasonable behavior from a government IT shop at this time of the year. To make a change like this right before the fiscal year end is unusual. Changes like this are not usually provided for until the budget is released for the next fiscal year. This was treated as an emergency change.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Not Perfectly Reasonable

“This is not normal or reasonable behavior from a government IT shop at this time of the year.” It may be when you are operating over a satellite uplink to the bottom of the world. Bandwidth there is (likely) extremely limited.

I agree that the entertainment and recording industries are lobbying hard. My point is that people are applying a lot of altered context and grinding axes where there is a really simple explanation given the unqique circumstances of the local.

GAOInsider says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Not Perfectly Reasonable

Laptops issued by this agency do not allow for root control or installation of non-approved programs. This seems like a non-issue on government controlled computers. Limiting bandwidth for others can be performed in other ways. This is an unusual approach to something which is not a frequent problem. Bandwidth limitations are always over-hyped for funding reasons.

Also from the innovation standpoint- as many others have brought up- P2P can save on bandwidth if used correctly. The technology alone is not illegal to use and there are many applicable uses which do not infringe on copyrights. There are many reasons to not believe the bandwidth limitation arguments.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Not Perfectly Reasonable

“There are many reasons to not believe the bandwidth limitation arguments”
Not really. There are many more, and more rational ones, to see that bandwidth likely the main factor. Antarctica is about as close to going to the moon as you can get and stay on Earth. How do you imagine that they move the data on and off the continent, Comcast? What makes you think it’s cheap and easy to have that massive bandwidth you assume they must to the most remote least inhabited place on Earth? You think it’s well funded and they have all the bandwidth they want? Get real.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Not Perfectly Reasonable

I know they don’t, but only in actuality. In Borne Supremacy imagination land they ride Tauntauns and have light sabers.

I know IT people who worked at the Pole recently. They spoke to me personally about bandwidth issues, because I probably cause some of them by helping them get episodes of “Lost”. The satellites they get are basically end-of-life units that they use as much as they can, but have very low capacity. Data usage is tightly monitored and controlled out of necessity, not nefarious attempts to limit your freedom. If you imagine bandwidth is a simple matter and they just get “military satellites”, then you’re watching too many movies. “Many people here think this is just bullsh$t.” Well, many people are whack jobs who don’t have a clue but form opinions anyway. They’re full of crap. In the real world bandwidth to/from Antarctica is heavily limited by geography and money. You think it’s easy? Well then, offer to be the private ISP to the people living there and then they can do whatever they want with you’re bandwidth. A gonna run CAT-5? They will pay you $$$ to download fresh porn, if you give them the opportunity. Then maybe you can afford to move out of your parent’s basement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Not Perfectly Reasonable

How many people are down there. Probably 20 and they are sitting around the same table watching it together. Seems excessive to monitor this type of situation when they can shout across the room and tell the guy to stop downloading lost for a second because something else needs to happen.

It is dumber to create excessive unnecessary rules for the satisfaction of industry rather than any practical purpose. This does illustrate the ridiculous nature of of these circumstances.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Not Perfectly Reasonable

Actually, between the three permanent stations the US operates (McMurdo Station, Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, and Palmer Station) they are capable of supporting a couple thousand residents. See Wiki for McMurdo, as an example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McMurdo_Station . Not sure how many residents there are year-round. Even a few dozen will cause huge bandwidth problems over satellite if abused.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Not Perfectly Reasonable

GAOInsider, this isn’t a change to their policy.

If you read the memo, it is basically a reminder of the policy already in place and a further instruction to uninstall any such software. And, with due respect to your insider knowledge, given that the memo starts out with an example involving software being downloaded and installed and given that the memo states that any such software must be uninstalled, I have to believe that the users in the case DO have the capability to install their own software. Either that or this agency thought it would be helpful to remind people of an irrelevant policy using an irrelevant example and making an irrelevant request to install software that couldn’t possibly have been installed in the first place.

Yes P2P can be used for legit purposes…the memo even says so. But in this case the policy has been and is that P2P, gaming and streaming is prohibited. What’s hard about that? I’d note that the inclusion of gaming and streaming in the policy really – again – points to the issue being bandwidth, rather than the demons Mike is chasing.

GAOInsider says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Not Perfectly Reasonable

I’m not sure what your advocacy toward non-P2P use is or why you care so much, unless you are some type of pro-IP rights industry person.

There is no requirement to send a reminder. That is a very lame argument. Why would they need to remind when it is never done unless politically motivated? Agencies issue statements when a policy change occurs, not when they need to freshen up their personnel on a policy. Internal reminders are just that- internal.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Not Perfectly Reasonable

GAO, you seem to have the axe to grind about P2P. Many others do here, too. I could care less, have used various P2P clients and support net neutrality (where it’s relevant, which is not here).

The point here is that this whole post is about…….nothing! All I’m doing is debunking conspiracy theorists, pointing out that there are very simple explanations for all elements of this story. I UNDERSTAND that this is a politically charged topic with recent hearings and an active lobby, and that the government works in mysterious (actually very obvious, plodding) ways.

This WAS an internal reminder, not a press statement. It was sent as an email to USAP staff. It is a simple policy reiteration probably driven by an event or impact due to bandwidth utilization. It could also be an overzealous yet properly positioned administrator wanting to make a point. Perhaps the entertainment lobby got to him, bought him off, threatened his family or some such thing. The reality of the likelihood of that is slim, but I’ll grant that it could have happened. But it probably didn’t and this just is what it is: an internal reminder memo, fleshed out with some examples someone read in ComputerWorld (or 1000 other blog sites) which was triggered by someone complaining about a lack of bandwidth during some critical operation.

GAOInsider says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Not Perfectly Reasonable

I have a axe to grind over mis-information. Policies are not reiterated without political cause. The reason was the limewire debate this summer. This bandwidth problem has long been resolved since 2003/4. This is the OMB order from 2004 on P2P- http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/memoranda_fy04_m04-26/

Seems a bit unneeded to stress a rule that has been around since 2004 unless you are trying to create more issues that really do not exist. As viewing this agency first hand on issues, this is an artificial and politically fabricated problem with bandwidth.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Not Perfectly Reasonable

GAO, you just provided new information which seems to go beyond what you stated before.

You now say that you know there is no bandwidth issue and there hasn’t been since 2003/4. How do you know and what are the stats then/now?

You also now agree that this is a policy reiteration, yet before you said it was a “change.” You said, even, “This was treated as an emergency change.” So is it a reiteration or a change?

You also said earlier that this is a change made at “the ISP level” which it isn’t. It’s not a change and nothing was done at the ISP or network level.

And you also said that USAP users are not able to install their own applications, but the policy would clearly indicate that this is possible, even asking people to pretty-please disable or uninstall these apps. Which is it?

I guess I do share your grinding axe over mis-information.

GAOInsider says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Not Perfectly Reasonable

I will tell you plainly, USAP currently does not have bandwidth problems related to P2P on government computers. It is impossible for an individual user to install anything on the government issued computers. If there is unapproved administrative activity on government computers, then they would get fired and there would probably be plenty of press about it for everyone to enjoy.

There might be some security concerns on web-based applications and limited individual computer use from contractors/ non-government researchers. Bandwidth concerns on this subject of direct applications to a government computer is not a realistic example. It is easy to remind individuals to disable items that haven’t existed since 2004. The emergency declaration is a political show in response to recent congressional activity. There is nothing to it other than showmanship. This is being politically framed in a convenient way for IP-rights holders.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Not Perfectly Reasonable

This has been going on forever. “They” managed to ban P2P on the Space Shuttle years ago. If they can keep Vlad the cosmonaut from playing World of Warcraft on the International Space Station, can your parent’s basement be far behind? Figure it out man! It’s the thin edge of the wedge. If Obama has his way, the only basement porn you’ll have left will be sock puppet shows in a cardboard box, and then only if your parents let you have visitors. The only way Omaba’s getting me to give up my God given right to porn is if he pries the crusty sock out of my cold dead hand. This is just a ploy. The Supreme Court has always followed penguins for precedence. Remember the “gay” penguins. Right after that we get gay marriage. Now they’re taking the internet away from these perverted waterfowl, on their own turf, just to lay the legal foundation to come after us. We need a flag with a sock puppet snake on it that says “Don’t tred on me, Obama!” That’ll show them. Seriously though, the socks, you don’t want to walk on them; trust me on this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Living there

What you forget is that these PhDs live there for extended periods. This is like someone saying you have to use your work computer for all personal use then restricting the connection to work standards. These are highly intelligent people who could easily want to program on the side or do other pursuits in their free time which could be beneficial. Artificial restriction based on business needs to be weighed against the personal rights for these individuals.

I feel and I’m guessing Mike agrees, that these users should get some benefit of the doubt and have open access until there is some type of problem that proves otherwise. Also unlike doing business in the US, Antarctica has no laws to violate other than international law. By the way, there is no international laws against P2P as the entertainment industry likes to claim…

Tom says:

Re: No government

In this case research should be open. US government sponsored research especially in Antarctica needs to be open to the world. There should be no sensitive information down there. This is different from most government entities. In this situation there is no excuse for restriction because work can never be sensitive due to international rules on research down there. This is a different situation with researchers living where they work.

Bob V (profile) says:

Every one of you are missing a very important point. There is no bandwidth. There is only the sat connection. You have various scientific projects going on which have data being sent back to various organizations back in the states. You have personal net usage as well. There is a extremely limited amount of bandwidth for a lot of people who have operations running 24/7.

It has nothing to do with the gov says no p2p bad or anything else. Its just that the bandwidth is a finite resource. For those who are used to the seemingly unlimited bandwidth of developed countries this is foreign but its a reality for those working in Antarctica.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

True it is a finite resource, but there are other ways to handle it. Just give them a personal usage cap on transmission and don’t restrict by network type or program type. For some things P2P will improve network resources. Especially if anyone else in Antarctica has already downloaded the same thing. The cell services in the US seem to work with their caps. This is a government approved attack on network neutrality. It cannot be described as anything else.

Marty (user link) says:

THE word on this is....

This is not new news at all.

P2P has long been banned by the USAP enterprise rules of behaviour as has any nefarious use of bandwidth. This is about bandwidth and the huge cost of getting it in and out of Antarctica…

There are NO wires to Antarctica guys.. It’s all satellite which costs a bomb. The USAP is not an ISP and we provide bandwidth exclusively for science.

A mac address is collected and retained as part of the security screen that EVERY laptop must undergo prior to connection on the USAP network. This list is maintained by net-ops guys as is the ability to completely disconnect ANY offending equipment from the network. New technology IS in place to block whatever traffic we feel necessary to block in order to avoid contention.

The point is also that P2P software is prone to abuse and generally bandwidth intensive. Its not just P2P stuff, also “frowned upon” is any activity that involves file sharing, streaming media, downloading music, podcasts etc.

The us government own this network and provide it at huge cost to support the ENTIRE research community in Antarctica.

It is NOT a pipe to provide entertainment services of ANY kind. read iTunes, streaming video etc.. Take your own DVD’s and music with you, dont use our network for that garbage.

There are up to 2000 people in antarctica over summer and they have to share approx 13Mb of bandwidth….

This requires serious bandwidth management when you consider that most science projects involve sending gob loads of data back to universities and research organisations. This traffic must always take priority.

If you dont like the rules that are in place to ensure everyone gets a fair crack at bandwidth, then perhaps you should arrange your own internet feed to the ice. Im sure you will very quickly find that the costs are quite prohibitive….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: THE word on this is....

You’re not making any sense. You’re clearly an IP-rights advocate framing things in a politically convenient way for IP-rights holders. Can you restate what you said in a way that makes you sounds like an obstinate wacko and offers proof that this is a political maneuver similar to the Reichstag fire?

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