What Else Is Comcast Jamming? Gnutella? Lotus Notes?

from the might-help-to-be-a-little-transparent dept

After the AP confirmed that Comcast was clearly blocking some aspects of Bittorrent, Comcast continued to issue its oddly worded denial statement about how it doesn't specifically block access to any application or content. Of course, that can mean different things to different people, and as the EFF is discovering, perhaps Comcast is being half-truthful in saying it doesn't specifically pick on BitTorrent trafffic. However, that's only because it's doing similar kinds of blocking on other types of traffic, such as content using Gnutella or even Lotus Notes. The EFF has been running a variety of tests and has found that Comcast appears to send forged reset packets for Gnutella, and it points to someone else who found the same thing for Lotus Notes.

Of course, Comcast can do what it wants on its network, but to deny it and not be even remotely transparent about it is pretty questionable (and potentially a violation of FTC rules). Once again, this is the type of thing that wouldn't happen if there were true competition in the broadband market. If people knew that Comcast was arbitrarily cutting off what they could do on their network with no indication (and, actually, actively hiding the fact that they were doing so) many people would look for alternatives. The only problem is that there often aren't any alternatives. Even in the cases where there are, the alternatives often include one other player: a telco like AT&T who seems to be gearing up to do the same thing as Comcast in blocking certain types of content online. It really is a simple question, though: why won't Comcast tell its own customers what it's blocking? When you find out that the company is blocking completely legitimate applications and services with no recourse (or even information admitting it), it's really quite troublesome.

Filed Under: bittorrent, cable, gnutella, lotus notes, network neutrality, traffic shaping, transparency
Companies: comcast, eff


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  1. identicon
    Benjamin M. Orsini, 22 Oct 2007 @ 4:41pm

    Cox's Political Filtering

    I was a Cox customer three or four years ago when I suddenly noticed that I couldn't connect to certain European web sites any more. I e-mailed Cox customer about the problem several times and several times they assured me that Cox was not filtering those sites and that the problem must be with the sites themselves. After a few months of this I finally met a Cox network engineer and he agreed to confidentially look into the situation for me. After some digging around he found out that Cox was indeed filtering those sites. It seems that some people at Cox were upset that France did not support the US invasion of Iraq and so decided to block all traffic to any address blocks assigned to French ISPs. (Note that although they were assigned to French ISPs, many of these addresses were actually used outside of France in places like the UK) This filter was implemented at the local router level so customers in some areas experienced it while those in other areas did not, depending upon the political views of the local administrators. At the time, Cox was the only broadband provider in my area so there wasn't much I could do about it but since then I've been a proponent of network neutrality.

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