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Major ISPs Help Fund BitTorrent User Tracking Research

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the santa-and-comcast-both-know-if-you've-been-naughty dept.

Communications 190

An anonymous reader writes "I was scanning conference proceedings to come up with ideas for a reading group I run at my workplace, and I noticed an interesting paper from the new IEEE WIFS forensics conference. Researchers from the University of Colorado have published a technique for tracking BitTorrent users (PDF) by joining and actively probing torrent swarms using low-cost cloud computing services. They claim their methods allowed them to monitor the entire Pirate Bay torrent set for as little as $13/mo using EC2. But that's not even the interesting part. Their work appears to have been 'funded in part through gifts from PolyCipher' — a broadband ISP consortium. That's right; three major national ISPs funded this round of BitTorrent tracking research, not the MPAA/RIAA. Could this be evidence of ISP support for ACTA and a global three-strikes law?"

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Rob Malda's tranny died under mysterious circumsta (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407382)

Rob Malda's tranny died under mysterious circumstances

New details about Rob Malda's past may come out in the divorce proceedings with his wife of 8 years, Kathleen. Page 6 speculates that she may fight the prenup, citing Malda’s infidelity with various street trannies.

In 2007, Malda was caught by Dexter police with a transvestite hooker in his car. He told his wife that he “stopped to help a person crying.” Several other hookers sold tales of Malda’s solicitation to the tabloids, and all of them were convinced to recant, with one exception:
Paul Barresi, a private detective who claims he was hired for damage control by Malda when the scandal broke, tells Page Six: “I called [Malda attorney] Marty ‘Bull Dog’ Singer and told him I could round up all the transsexuals alleging sexual dalliances with Malda.” And they would all recant their stories.

“In less than 10 days,” Barresi says, “I got them all to sign sworn, videotaped depositions, stating it wasn’t Malda himself, but rather a look-alike, who they’d encountered - with the exception of Suiuli.” In 2008, she fell to her death from her Dexter roof.

Atisone Suiuli was the tranny found in Malda’s car in 2007. After being caught by police, she had proof that she was with Malda and wouldn’t change her story. How convenient for him that she died soon afterwards.

It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (4, Insightful)

grahamsaa (1287732) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407390)

ISPs could simply be looking for ways to find heavy bittorrent users, provide proof of the fact that they're using a lot of bandwidth to download copyrighted content, and to throttle them down or to block this traffic entirely.

ISPs have a strong incentive to reduce heavy bittorrent traffic on their networks so they don't have to upgrade as often. If they can delay these upgrades under the guise of supporting intellectual property rights, it's a win win for them. I'm not saying I support this kind of thing, but it makes business sense.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407490)

Analyzing traffic without a warrant is a privacy violation. You can't allege users that they download/upload copyrighted content based on that they use a lot of bandwidth. Also, downloading copyrighted for private use is not necessarily illegal, when there is no uploading (unlike bittorrent).

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407508)

Analyzing traffic without a warrant is a privacy violation.

Bullshit.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407602)

No, he's right. Even if it isn't now, it damn well should be.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (1)

King InuYasha (1159129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407680)

As far as I know, it definitely is a privacy violation.... But then again, IANAL

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407754)

Read your contract dipshit. You've signed a contract with a provision to let the ISP do this. Secondly this wasn't a governmental agency so warrants don't apply.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (4, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408688)

Read your contract dipshit.

You work for Comcast customer relations, right?

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407864)

So if I was your ISP, I could read your e-mail to make sure you weren't trading warez links and it wouldn't be a privacy violation?

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408054)

Not if you sign a contract that says they can do so.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (2)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408528)

Ahh yes, another one of those "contract worshippers".

So, if the contract said they could shoot your dog, no problem, eh? After all, it's a CONTRACT!

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (3, Insightful)

pengin9 (1595865) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408716)

why did you sign it then if you don't want your dog shot?

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408904)

Maybe they've put a gun to his head?

That's the whole point of inalienable rights: so you can't be forced to give them up.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409004)

I think you missed the point. ISPs don't put a gun to your head and say "sign this contract or else." They say "If you want our service, sign our contract." Nobody is forcing you to buy cable.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409100)

My point is that privacy can be an inalienable right (IANAL), so they can be breaking the law even if you sign a contract saying otherwise.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (3, Insightful)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409174)

Maybe they've put a gun to his head?

If they "put a gun to his head" then the contract is automatically void. For there to be a valid contract both parties must accept it voluntarily, and there must be a reasonable "meeting of the minds", i.e. agreement on the nature of the contract. Note that if you claim to understand a contract before signing you should expect to be taken at your word, whatever your actual understanding may be. See also: due diligence.

That's the whole point of inalienable rights: so you can't be forced to give them up.

A contract allowing a third-party to shoot your dog does not forfeit any inalienable rights. Domestic animals are property, and can be killed ("put to sleep") by the owner, or anyone granted permission by the owner. A contract is a perfectly valid way to grant such permission. For that matter, the contract could just as easily have transferred ownership of the animal, after which its fate would be entirely up to the other party.

Pretty much the only right universally recognized as inalienable—among those who recognize inalienable rights at all—is the right to self-ownership, i.e. the right to one's own mind and body. This is usually considered self-evident, as the mind and body cannot be separated from one's sense of self. Everything else, however, is separable (alienable) and thus may be contractually transferred with the current owner's permission.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409324)

Pretty much the only right universally recognized as inalienable--among those who recognize inalienable rights at all--is the right to self-ownership

Here in the US, we all operate under the idea that several rights are unalienable, ie: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, per the U.S. Declaration of Independence [wikipedia.org] . The entire concept of the Bill of Rights was not to grant rights (speech, religion, press, etc.) but to declare that these rights already exist, and to state that the government can't take them away. Everyone already HAS these rights as a birth right. Not just U.S. citizens, but every human. So I would argue (as would many others) that these rights ARE unalienable.

As for contracts, almost all contracts have sections that clearly state that if a portion of the contract is found to be illegal or unconstitutional, it doesn't invalidate the rest of the provisions.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407676)

From my point of view, I'd hold bets that 9 out of 10 "heavy users" on the internet are not swapping P2P files but are infected by trojans spewing spam.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (3, Insightful)

teh moges (875080) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407814)

You would find that the majority of the 'good' botnets rely on many computers doing low-bandwidth operations, so that the owner of the computer doesn't notice. If the speed of the Internet gets too slow, the owner could send the computer in to get fixed, and the IT guy would find and remove the problem files. If the owner never notices, its less likely this could happen. There still exists viruses that do the 'high impact' thing, but they are less common now and don't last very long (for the previously mentioned reason).

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (2, Interesting)

macintard (1270416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407716)

How is analyzing the data of a copyrighted torrent via a publicly available tracker a privacy violation? And why are you talking about warrants here? I didn't see any mention of a governmental agency utilizing this technology...

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (5, Informative)

ravenscar (1662985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407726)

Warrants are for the government. When you signed your contract with your ISP you likely authorized them to monitor your traffic to some extent (at least bandwidth usage and likely more). Does that violate your privacy? Maybe, but the issue is much more complicated than you make it seem.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407962)

I am not saying you should reaching into the content of you users but analyzing the traffic so you can understand how your network is used should be allowed and its a good thing for ISPs to do. All ISPs over subscribe. That is how they can profitably sell you the bandwidth at prices you can afford. If they did not do this we would all buy our connections directly from the tier 1 carriers.

It makes perfect sense for them to want to understand what types of applications, again knowing you are using bittorent not knowing you are using bittorent to download a screener of Alice in Wonderland is perfectly reasonable. They should understand these things and probably should do some shaping. Your four hour bulk transfer really out to be queued for a moment so grandma who pays they same but hardly uses a fraction of the upstream resources you do can download a few thousand bytes of HTML about her book club and some E-mails from her grand kids, and not have to wait.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409198)

"You can't allege users that they download/upload copyrighted content based on that they use a lot of bandwidth"
No, but you can drop the users that actually use the bandwidth they pay for under the clause in the contract that says "ISP_name has full discression as to what constitutes "unacceptable behavior"". Most ISPs want to sell a shitload of "high speed" internet connections that aren't capable of sourcing even 1/10 of what's advertised when a moderate number of users are online.

Look at comcast's latest bullshit. If you use over 50% of your bandwidth and it's during a "time of high congestion" (again, as determined by comcast, not by actual evidence) then they will throttle you down to less than a 1/10 of your full speed. That's right. If you use half of what you pay for then you get less than a 1/10 of that. This happens for 15 minutes at a time, but there's no minimum period of full speed between these 15 minute periods of reduced speed.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (3, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407512)

ISPs have a strong incentive to reduce heavy bittorrent traffic on their networks so they don't have to upgrade as often. If they can delay these upgrades under the guise of supporting intellectual property rights, it's a win win for them. I'm not saying I support this kind of thing, but it makes business sense.

Totally agree with that. Bandwidth costs money, sure the cost might be dropping, but why would you (as an ISP) actually WANT your consumers to go using all that bandwidth that you are selling them? Wouldn't it make much more business sense to sell them a plan with 100Gb (Yes, in Australia, that's still considered a very high amount of traffic) and have them use 2Gb for their surfing and emails - oh, and find a nice way to kick off all those customers who actually use what they pay for - without looking like it's got anything to do with you, after all, if you sell high usage accounts, you can't kick off high users... erm... wait wat?

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (1)

PAStheLoD (872844) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407646)

100Gb? As in 12.5 gigabyte?

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408118)

Not only that but lawsuits and discovery cost money. If the ISP can more easily cough up the evidence when asked by formalizing the procedures, it will probably limit their liability and reduce their compliance costs.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408610)

Then they open themselves up to becoming a party to the infringement instead of having policies in place that do not allow the recording of that information to which they can tell the courts "Sorry but we don't have that information an it would violate the contracts with all of our customers to obtain it".

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407718)

There is a simple solution to this: Sell only what you have. Or rather, market it correctly. When you sell people 8mbit synchronous, they will expect this to be available to them and they will maybe try to use it. Hoping that they just want to have a fat pipe but won't use it is like hoping that people who buy cars that go 200mph won't drive that fast.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (4, Informative)

mlts (1038732) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407822)

It could also be a last-ditch effort for ISPs to show they can police themselves before they get shackled by Draconian regulations. ISPs also hate high bandwidth usage (expanding networks cost money, so to the bean counters who failed ITIL class in MBA school, it is better to charge fees, throttle, and kick off users than it does to expand networks to handle new growth and new applications.)

ISPs are not going to like ACTA so they want to avoid it as much as they can. Having to record not just packet headers, but every single packet a user has sent/received and store it for 7 years is going to make them have to spend large amounts of cash for disk farms. They also don't want to be the focal point for customer outrage when Big Brother-eqsue stories happen: For example, a divorce happens, the ISP gets a motion of discovery, and has to go data mine in the archives to come up with the exact web pages a husband was viewing in the past on a certain day.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (2, Interesting)

Pence128 (1389345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409068)

...every single packet a user has sent/received and store it for 7 years...

Is that seriously in ACTA? I'm pretty sure that's almost impossible. If it is, find something on their local network and keep bouncing traffic off it.Comcast has 16M customers and a 250GB cap. That works out to about 1.5TB per second.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409196)

Yes, it is, if you check wikileaks. Remember: ACTA is being made by the same technically ignorant people as the ones who demanded a P2P site log everything that happens *in a computer's RAM*.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (4, Informative)

BuhDuh (1102769) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408220)

DISCLAIMER: I am part of the support team of an ISP
Yes, we do hate those users who suck bandwidth via bittorrent to the detriment of the majority who simply want to read their email, keep up-to-date via a social networking site and do other non-intensive tasks. However if we were being completely cynical, the over usage charges we can collect (and which our users agreed to in our AUP when they signed up) are a nice earner. PLUS I agree, we don't have to invest so heavily and so often to upgrade our infrastructure. I don't necessarily agree with such a position, but I'm stuck with it. However, I read TFPDF and it bleats about illegal copyrighted downloads which it seems to imply is the only use for bittorrent, nowhere do I see (except after the download is complete) how this violation can be proven. I have lost count over the years of how many iso's of various Linux distros I have downloaded, how many times the kids have updated WoW.... This sanctimonious BS posturing in the guise of protecting copyright leaves me cold.

One can also assume the best intent by the ISP (2, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408634)

Even a perfectly neutral ISP rightly should have a love hate relationship with bit torrent. Bit torrent can be a good thing if most of the peers are local connections. And they espeically should like peer groups that dont' exit or enter their network.

And if an ISP were really savvy about the network topology they could strategically place their own seeds to create local peering groups. But they could not do that without having a way to track the torrent topology on their network.

So maybe they are good people that are looking at this as a way to optmize local torrent networks for everyone's benefit including their own?

However that reasoning assumes that with or without bit torrent the same amount of data transfers would be made. Local bit torrents thus are beneficial. But if you take the assumption that without bit torrent not as many data transfers would be made, but people would still be willing to pay the same for their service, then the ISP would love to squish bit torrent completely.

Moreover if they have content to sell then any bit torrent use is competition for the bandwidht they want to sell high QOS content over (including voip content).

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (3, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408704)

ISPs have a strong incentive to reduce heavy bittorrent traffic on their networks so they don't have to upgrade as often. If they can delay these upgrades under the guise of supporting intellectual property rights, it's a win win for them. I'm not saying I support this kind of thing, but it makes business sense.

On the flip side, ISPs have a strong incentive to reduce heavy BitTorrent traffic that goes into or comes out of their networks far, far more than traffic within their network. If I were managing an ISP, I'd be analyzing BitTorrent traffic to find out how much of it is staying locally, and using that to decide whether it's worth looking for a way to extend the protocol to prefer nearby seeds by adding additional DHCP response fields, by doing something clever with mDNS, etc. Heck, if I were managing an ISP, I'd be contributing code to BitTorrent to allow ISPs to specify information about the IP ranges within our regional network and the cost of uploads/downloads through our various peer ISPs, thus allowing the P2P client to weight its traffic towards connecting to other P2P peers that are cheaper for the ISP if all other things are equal, and allowing the P2P client to more effectively use bandwidth by making sure that only one P2P client within the regional network pulls each chunk of a given file through the expensive upstream pipes, then seeds it to the other peers through the faster regional network. Performance should improve on the average *and* the cost to the ISPs would go down.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (1)

iamacyborg (1750902) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409018)

I'm surprised ISPs aren't more creative in their pricing schemes.

Currently, they all seem to charge a flat rate for a fixed optimum speed. I think they could manage bandwidth better if they changed a small amount per gigabyte plus a lower monthly fee. The price per gigabyte could vary based on peak usage times, so people would have an incentive to manage schedule their downloads during off hours.

I think that most people that hate the idea of being charged for usage amount are the people gobbling up tons of bandwidth, meaning their usage is subsidized by granny and her 3Mb of bandwidth use each month.

Re:It could be related to ACTA, or. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409166)

Actually, some ISPs make their niche in the market soley through catering to p2p. My ISP has premium services where you pay extras for truly unlimited DLS broadband. No caps or quotas and they promise not to give away your details without a court order. My internet connection is not shared with others and they make sure they have the capacity in their infrastructure to allow this. In return I pay them a lot more than if I had gone with one of the major providers in my country. The thing is, if they didn't offer this then they would have no customers as otherwise I might as well have gone with a major ISP and saved about 50% on my bills. As a relatively heavy user, I benefit from this without taking away bandwidth from others. Meanwhile my ISP wins as they get a lot of business from people like me who use a lot of bandwidth but are prepared to pay a little more for their superior terms and conditions of service. I wish that more ISPs could understand that there is a huge market for people who would pay a little more for true unlimited high-quality service rather than paying for fake "unlimited" broadband that they have to share with others and can be subject to caps.

ISP's hate bittorrent (1)

AutumnLeaf (50333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407392)

90% of the traffic by a relatively small subset of the consumers. They hates it.

Re:ISP's hate bittorrent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407492)

I think pirates really should be more considerate of the ISPs difficulties and try to make p2p more ISP friendly by such techniques as favoring nearby (ie, more IP bits in common) hosts and compressing any files they upload as much as is practical.

ISPs would still hate bittorrent, of course - but they might hate it a tiny bit less.

Re:ISP's hate bittorrent (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407594)

If ISPs would do their job, P2P would be an almost negligible load: Multicasting would replace it and virtually eliminate packet duplication. Working against Bittorrent will only make things worse for ISPs. Every layer of defense against deep packet inspection and tracking adds load to the network. If ISPs really support Bittorrent tracking research, they must (stupidly) think that they can make an impact on file sharing. What will happen is that they will only cause further evolution of file sharing protocols. They should work on developing and deploying more network efficient distribution protocols (e.g. multicasting). File sharers have different priorities.

Re:ISP's hate bittorrent (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408714)

not only to that, but i really don't care if my bittorrent packets have a 2ms ping (to the other peer) or a 2000ms one. All i care is that the bandwidth is there. Now I care that I have just enough bandwidth to make a SIP phone call, but the closer to 0ms ping it has the better, even if that means making my torrent more laggy. Now I just need a router with enough grunt to handle this on my end, but it would be much nicer if my ISP handled this for me somewhat as well. Not only that but my normal HTTP request should fall in the middle. I'd like to be able to flag my own traffic with flags that mean something like "low/normal/high" bandwidth. and each of those would then get "low/normal/high latencies(buffered, que'd, throttled, etc) to allow for room on the network for them all. The problem here is that lots of things would just flag everything as normal even if it wasn't needed.

Re:ISP's hate bittorrent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409106)

Agreed. It's a cat and mouse game. Another file sharing protocol will be developed and the whole process will start over. Consumer bandwidth usage is only going to increase, as streaming services (eg. Netflix Instant Access) increase in popularity. The consumer should have to right to bandwidth they purchase. If that's not case, then ISP should change their product's description.

Re:ISP's hate bittorrent (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407738)

It also has a tendency to be full blast all the time. Part of what makes cheap lines cheap is that when you have a lot of people, you can share bandwidth and normal usage patterns are such that they don't interfere with each other. You can see this when you have a roommate in that your cable modem doesn't suddenly feel half the speed just because there's another person using it as well. You'll probably find that it is the same overall. Same deal with an office LAN. You all have 100mbps to your desktops and say gig to the server. Yet even with 100 people the server still seems to go full speed on your connection all the time.

Well the reason is because normal usage isn't sustained at maximum level. It is full of spikes. You download something and then once you have the data the usage stops. The net effect is that you can oversubscribe lines and people still get good service. Everyone gets to pay less and all is well. The larger the scale the more true this seems to be. The peaks in individual usage average out such that you can oversubscribe by a good amount and nobody has problems.

However that breaks down if people start using things to the max all the time. The suck up a lot of bandwidth and leave little for everyone else, and it doesn't relent.

Bittorrent is very bad for that. Part of it is because of the uploading, most torrent clients will just keep serving out what they've downloaded until they are stopped. Another part is the many BTers seem to be collectors. They'll download any and every thing they come across that they have any interest in and sort through it later. They always have multiple downloads going to get more stuff.

As such it really screws over the way cheap connections work. So it isn't just that you are using so much, though that is part of it, it is that by using so much in a continuous fashion it degrades service for others.

Re:ISP's hate bittorrent (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407878)

I would argue that streaming is even worse as you have to download every time you watch. Cloud computing might just increase traffic too.

Re:ISP's hate bittorrent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407992)

except that they're not doing anything but sharing the bw an individual customer paid for with other customers, then booting him off if he 'dares' to use what he bought.. it's not just amount of bits, it's amount of bits/time. if you sell a plan that claims 'unlimited' bw, then you better be prepared to guarantee that.. if not, it should be considered fraud. if it's a limited amount, then guarantee that amount. if you cant, upgrade your lines and quit making excuses.

Re:ISP's hate bittorrent (1)

orient (535927) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408026)

I don't think BitTorrent clients are going full blast all the time: one uses the torrent protocol to get content. This content must be consumed and, with a decent connection, one doesn't have the time consume all the content one can get => the bandwith usage is still a series of spikes, even in the case of torrent users.

I'm not saying it can't be (3, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408312)

I'm saying it usually isn't. This is based on my observation of torrent users. Now I'm not talking about the person who uses it to get patches for a game and doesn't know it, or the guy who downloads a Linux ISO for work or something. The ISPs have no problem with them, their bandwidth usage is fairly normal. The people I'm talking about are the torrent head types. Generally they are downloading copyrighted content, though not always. They just go crazy, they download tons and tons and tons of stuff, since it costs nothing. They have downloads going in the background, all the time. They are the ones who use tons, who cause problems. They just queue things up when they finish what they are getting now.

I'm not saying it can't be promoted. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408754)

I think you're forgetting in the torrent protocol when someone has a fast enough connection they get promoted to being a supernode.

Re:ISP's hate bittorrent (4, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408298)

On a related note fat people are now banned from All You Can Eat restaurants.

They have a tendency to eat all the time. Part of what makes cheap food cheap is that when you have a lot of people, you can share kitchens and normal eating patterns are such that they don't interfere with each other. You can see this when you have a roommate in that your microwave doesn't suddenly cook at half the speed just because there's another person using it as well sometimes. You'll probably find that it is the same overall. Same deal with an office kitchen. You all have 1000 watts to your coffee machine and say 3000 to the plug. Yet even with 10 people the coffee maker still seems to go full speed on your java all the time.

Well the reason is because normal usage isn't sustained at maximum level. It is full of spikes. You eat something and then once you have the meal the usage stops. The net effect is that you can oversubscribe kitchens and people still get good service. Everyone gets to pay less and all is well. The larger the scale the more true this seems to be. The peaks in individual usage average out such that you can oversubscribe by a good amount and nobody has problems.

However that breaks down if people start using things to the max all the time. The suck up a lot of gravy and leave little for everyone else, and it doesn't relent.

Fatties are very bad for that. Part of it is because of the farting, most fat people will just keep serving out what they've eaten until they are stopped. Another part is the many fatties seem to be huge. They'll eat any and every thing they come across that they have any interest in and digest it later. They always have multiple plates going to get more stuff.

As such it really screws over the way cheap restaurants work.
So it isn't just that you are using so much, though that is part of it, it is that by using so much in a continuous fashion it degrades service for others.

That was disturbingly easy to translate....

Restaurant's hate food. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408864)

"That was disturbingly easy to translate...."

Disturbingly bad too. All you can eat restaurants have a built in limit. How much any average person can physically eat in a given amount of time. What Sycraft-fu is talking about is best understood by asking yourself, what is the built in limit for the average internet connected computer?

Re:Restaurant's hate food. (1)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409282)

In Australia there are data caps. The most my ISP will sell me is 60GB. 20 peak 40 offpeak. The only option I have to get more would be to change ISP and possibly pay more for the privilege.

Re:ISP's hate bittorrent (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407750)

Nah, the number of spambots ain't that low.

Re:ISP's hate bittorrent (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407758)

90% of the traffic by a relatively small subset of the consumers. They hates it.

That very well may be. But are these users violating their TOS? Did they pay for "all you can eat"?

Re:ISP's hate bittorrent (1)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408010)

I signed up for unlimited internet access about 5 years ago.
So they can pretty much such my cock as far as I'm concerned.

Not Necessarily (2, Insightful)

MidnightBrewer (97195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407396)

It could be evidence of ISPs wanting to reduce unwanted BitTorrent traffic by taking a pro-active stance against piracy. BitTorrent eats up a lot of bandwidth and has been targeted for throttling for a while now. Why only throttle it if you can kill it outright?

Re:Not Necessarily (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407612)

i could see the DSL companies funding this, but if people can't torrent why would they pay a hundred bucks a month for cable internet when you can get DSL for $25-$30.

Re:Not Necessarily (3, Informative)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407764)

You are assuming that there is actually competition and not localized virtual monopolies. The reality however is that cable and teleco have divied out service area plots and hardly ever expand into each others' "turf". Even in one of the richest county in United States - Fairfax, VA. Depends on where you live, you either get Cox, Verizon, or Comcast. Areas where you may choose between the three service providers practically don't exist. So what happens when you want to drop your ISP? Well, the alternative is 56k dialup.

Re:Not Necessarily (3, Informative)

Thundersnatch (671481) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409156)

On the north side of Chicago (Lincoln park), you can choose between two cable, two 4g wireless, six 3g wireless, and about 10 xDSL providers. Oh, and that laggy sattelite service too. All this choice in the most corrupt political climate in the country. Maybe Fairfax needs to hire Todd Stroger.

Re:Not Necessarily (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407648)

Yeah. They don't want a three-strikes law, because when you're "out" they can't overcharge you for bandwidth. What they do want is to stop you from using available bandwidth, without pissing off anyone commercial (e.g. blocking Hulu traffic would save massive bandwidth, but Hulu would get their ass in court. Going after bittorrenters, and especially "bad" bittorrent from a copyright perspective, means only pissing off customers (which is apparently many ISPs' #1 priority) and ensuring a lot of them can't fight back without risking their own asses from the MAFIAA after info on their torrenting habits is aired in open court.

Really, if you start from an adversarial relationship with your own customers, it makes perfect sense.

Re:Not Necessarily (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408194)

Going after bittorrenters, and especially "bad" bittorrent from a copyright perspective, means only pissing off customers (which is apparently many ISPs' #1 priority)

From the standpoint of the ISP, there are "good" and "bad" customers. The "bad" customers are the ones who saturate their connections and use most or all of their available bandwidth most or all of the time. If a customer is a cost center rather than a profit center, an incentive is create to "encourage" that customer to take their "business" elsewhere (preferably to a competitor). Compare this to the classic rent control scenario where landlords are incentivized to "encourage" (aka harass) a money losing tenant into moving on. Of course, the ISP will want to keep these rearguard actions quiet so as to prevent bad press and uncomfortable questions from their "good" customers; the ones who pay for the high bandwidth but very seldom use it for extended periods at high levels.

Re:Not Necessarily (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407804)

Why would ISPs want to kill bit torrent when it's the main reason a lot of people use broadband? They don't give a shit about copyright infringement - no-one does, except the people who lose out from it. ISPs will stop it when they suffer (financially) from it, and not a second sooner.

In a world without bittorrent and other p2p pirate systems (yeah yeah, I know they have legit uses too), next to nobody needs more than a half meg connection for surfing/email/gaming etc, and next to no-one would be likely to get through more than a gig a month.

Re:Not Necessarily (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408282)

500Kbps for surfing, email and gaming? Maybe if it's for one user who considers addictinggames.com "gaming." If I stopped all my torrenting I would still be using a lot of bandwidth for things like software downloads, online video, digital distribution of games, DLC for games, patches for games, updates for all my applications and operating systems, and the list goes on. Imagine if I had a family of 5 with a couple consoles and a PC for each member of the family.

ISPs need to invest in their networks instead of their CEOs. If only we had some real competition in the cable market.

Re:Not Necessarily (1)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408760)

There is a very easy way to reduce excess traffic, charge users by the GB. Both uploads and downloads. But that way they don't get to advertise "unlimited" connection.

By shutting down high usage users they are breaching their contract with the user, over selling their service and using false advertisements all at the same time.

Where are the honest ISP when you need them?

Re:Not Necessarily (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409298)

Most users have no idea what they are using on a GB basis. They would likely underestimate by orders of magnitude, run up excess charges, complain and likely drop their service.

Moving from an unlimited flat-rate plan to any sort of metered usage plan would likely be devastating to any cable ISP in the US. With DSL providers offering absurdly priced plans (like $14.95 a month), moving to a metered plan would only work in most markets if the DSL providers did as well. Since they face utterly different market conditions, this is unlikely to happen.

So forget about metering, excess charges and the like. Never going to happen in the US. Could this be implemented with a new fiber provider? Maybe, if it was viewed as something completely different, like 10GB service and something that would need that kind of bandwidth.

Isn't bittorrent good? (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407424)

Bittorrent makes users demand more bandwidth, which is good for ISPs I guess, someone has to pay for the network improvements.
So ISPs should solve equal or fair speed distribution among users (so that bittorrent users don't block others), rather than hunt the clients that use the service to its full extent.

Re:Isn't bittorrent good? (2, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407922)

I imagine you're not in the US.

I'm from Australia, and our ISPs love bittorrent, for the reason you describe - it drives people towards their higher data, more expensive, plans. In the US, however, their ISPs generally only sell unlimited plans. They are therefore financially motivated to try and stop people from actually using their services. They get the most money from people who subscribe, but don't use much bandwidth. People who use a lot of bandwidth actually cost them money.

Their behaviour is a result of their business plan. It seems most of them realize this, but having pimped the "unlimited" data plans for so long, they encounter consumer backlash when they try and change to metered useage.

Not for cable providers (3, Interesting)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407936)

The internet is quickly turning everything we consume into data. Cable companies want to fragment what being on the internet means, and then charge you extra for wanting to use port 25 or have the "privilege" of using bittorrent. They want you to pay for cable TV even if you can get everything off of hulu or directly from nbc.com.

If they can use technology to kick off high bandwidth users or force them to pay more without having to expand infrastructure, that's a hell of a lot better than expanding infrastructure. More short term profit. Higher stock price.

Re:Isn't bittorrent good? (1)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408486)

Due to Net Neutrality, ISPs are not able to implement priority routing. Thus, the only other option left is force hard bandwidth limits. This however does not sit well in a market place where most ISPs claim they offer unlimited internet access. Please note upgrading does not make business sense. Just because you obtain some arbitrary amount of bandwidth does not mean the heavy users will not soak these up as well. All it takes is word of mouth and the number heavy users grow from few and far between to a good portion of your user base. There is no real scalability with upgrading. What we really need is a better understand of the problem and a feasible way to approach it, instead of shouting the same old quick response from ages ago without even bothering with proper research.

Re:Isn't bittorrent good? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409136)

Due to Net Neutrality, ISPs are not able to implement priority routing.

Baloney. For one thing, in the USA there is no requirement for net neutrality, that was stripped away in FCC vs Brand X. [wikipedia.org]

For another thing, the concept of Net Neutrality does not care about protocols only end-points. So priority routing based on the protocol (i.e. bittorrent vs voip) is A-OK. But priority based on the end-point (i.e. ESPN vs Google) is where the problem starts.

Do it your self (3, Interesting)

KevMar (471257) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407446)

All they want are honest numbers. We know we cannot trust MPAA/RIAA for those.

I'm not saying we can trust the numbers or have any idea how ISP's will use the results. But they will be more informed when they decided to support or fight ACTA.

And the Cloud is almost free, right? (1)

BrianMarshall (704425) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407622)

As more people and organizations do vast amounts of computing on cheap clouds, eventually clouds are going to stop being almost free. Sure, the servers are being used in a very efficient way, but more and more servers are going to have to be purchased.

Re:And the Cloud is almost free, right? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407704)

Barring a disruptive change in electric prices, there is no reason to expect new capacity to cost more, and several reasons to expect it to cost less.

They want your money, not your IP traffic (5, Insightful)

renger (1607815) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407452)

As cable company researchers, their goal is to maximize profits for the cable industry. This includes: reducing (and delaying) the need to invest in new cable-modem equipment, reducing the size of the Internet transit circuits that they must purchase from real IP backbone providers, reducing the quantity of TV channels they must give-up to make room for DOCSIS (cable modem) channels, reducing any competition for video services from (non-cable-company) Internet-video sources, and so on. Cable company executives care about MPAA/RIAA only so far as it affects the size of their bonus checks. It is always about the money.

Let's hope the fiber-based operators kick their sorry coax ass. (And let us be vigilant that the fiber operators don't become similarly arrogant and unresponsive once they assume the throne of dominant last-mile provider.)

Re:They want your money, not your IP traffic (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407778)

Hmm... you do not see some sort of interest mixing when cable providers give you internet and TV, providers that sometimes also hold the rights to certain shows?

Re:They want your money, not your IP traffic (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408108)

Let's hope the fiber-based operators kick their sorry coax ass.

Right now, I fail to see the difference between a fiber and coax operator other than quality of service. Both are interested in traffic management.

Re:They want your money, not your IP traffic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408976)

Many cable operators have been running a hybrid Fiber-Coax system for a long time as well.

This is so [not] surprising! (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407548)

Really? An interested party funding research that could that affects their business model? This seems to be a non-story, unless this is the first time these financial ties have been revealed between bit torrent researchers and ISPs.

Re:This is so [not] surprising! (2, Interesting)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407658)

This seems to be a non-story, unless this is the first time these financial ties have been revealed between bit torrent researchers and ISPs.

This is not so much about calling the researchers' methods and findings into question as the ISPs motivation for funding the research. As far as I can tell, the research seems to be sound and pretty neat. The question is WHY are ISPs interested in FUNDING this sort of research?

One possibility that the submitter didn't consider is the fact that many researchers list their funding sources on all published papers, regardless of whether the funding was given to fund that specific project. So it could be that ISPs generally fund this particular research group in any case, and they happened to put out a paper that analyzes BT. In other words, there might not be anything sinister going on.

Re:This is so [not] surprising! (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408078)

The question is WHY are ISPs interested in FUNDING this sort of research?

It seems fairly obvious. Easier to bow down to the media overlords than fight their army of lawyers and actually protect the subscribers. Maybe I am assuming to much, but it just seems logical and much more straight forward than the speculative rhetoric the article uses.

Close to home (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407630)

I remember reading about some of this papers references last year. I found it interesting as at the time I was working for a company that had been data mining, advertising and "other" activities over P2P networks for several years. Working there made me feel kinda sleazy, but it was a paycheck when I needed it, at least until the investors got spooked and stopped writing pay checks...

Pirates fund ISPs. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407632)

If a pirate stops being a pirate then they stop needing the (expensive) super fast broadband and will happily settle for a budget connection. ISP's thinking a bit too much in the short term here?

I have to disappoint you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407856)

If a pirate stops being a pirate then they stop needing the (expensive) super fast broadband and will happily settle for a budget connection. ISP's thinking a bit too much in the short term here?

There are the Netflix, Amazon, and other video on demand folks who need the fast connections. P2P can disappear and it would have a negligible affect on our business.

Re:Pirates fund ISPs. (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409228)

The real issue isn't how much the customer is providing in revenue, but how \much they are costing. Could be that the budget plan has more profit in it than the fatter plan when it is actually being used.

Obviously, an unused fat plan is the most revenue with the fewest costs, as long as the customer never calls tech support.

But an underutilized budget plan may be more profitable than a maxed-out fat plan.

Almost like an ad at first... (2, Interesting)

aldld (1663705) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407664)

for as little as $13/mo

My eyes somehow jumped to that part first. At first, looks kinda like an ad, doesn't it?

Monitor Pirate Bay torrents TODAY, for only $13/month!

Re:Almost like an ad at first... (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407952)

for as little as $13/mo

My eyes somehow jumped to that part first. At first, looks kinda like an ad, doesn't it?

Monitor Pirate Bay torrents TODAY, for only $13/month!

Unfortunately for them, the Pirate Bay's got a better ad. IPREDator for 5 Euros a month. [ipredator.se]

It could be fear of the Congress (2, Interesting)

glyn.phillips (826462) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407700)

There is a very real possibility that ISP's will be required to enforce copyright laws in the same way that convenience stores are required to enforce age limits for alcohol and tobacco. ISP's might also lose the "safe harbor" provisions and become "accessories" to the actions of their users.

If either of these possibilities becomes law the ISP's will be required to shut down IP infringing traffic. So it could be evidence that ISP's are looking for a way to comply with such laws should they be passed.

It would not be the first time that the U.S. Congress has put a deadline on a technology which did not exist yet.

"No man's life, liberty or property is safe when congress is in session."

Re:It could be fear of the Congress (1)

mykos (1627575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409288)

I wonder how many billions of tax dollars a year are currently wasted on what substances people ingest, or (possibly coming up) fighting against people seeing and hearing information they aren't entitled to see and hear?

I hope the researchers have lots of funding. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407724)

Since they are in the US and actually download a chunk from each peer, doesn't that make them liable for literally billions of dollars in damages? After all, they obtained copyrighted works without permission.

Simple solution: hidden honeypot torrents on the tracker. Anybody who scrapes them is IP-banned for a week. For bonus points, is added to every torrent's peer list to cause an "accidental" DDOS.

Nastier solution: independent artist puts up a work on TPB, with a license proviso that it's not available to this software. Seed, wait, sue - after all, even 16 kB is (according to the RIAA) enough to net a $250k fine per instance...

Re:I hope the researchers have lots of funding. (1)

Pence128 (1389345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409238)

Simple solution:

worm intentionally connects to honeypots. millions of users who have never heard of bittorrent are disconnected from the internet. shit connects with fan at relativistic velocities.

this is go7atsex (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407734)

poor priorities, You. The tirel:ess series of debates posts. Therefore

Hmmm (1)

TheQuantumShift (175338) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407746)

"Could this be evidence of ISP support for ACTA and a global three-strikes law?"

For some reason, I just got an image in my head. It's a mat with different conclusions on it that you can jump to.

More likely this would be more useful for them to justify jacking up the rates for those who use such a "bandwidth intensive" application. Besides, I assumed the **AA was already doing this, compiling vast amounts of evidence. Once they get their first "win" in a p2p trial, they'll upend the dumptruck and start up ye olde legal proceedings. Of course for a "win" they need the public to be on their side, and suing the pants off some single mother for doing "what everyone does" isn't a good start.

Just reworking Fairplay (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407776)

http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-9920665-7.html [cnet.com]
"So far, investigators have recorded more than 642,000 "unique serial numbers" that can be traced to the United States and another 650,000
of them that cannot be traced to a particular country, with the number of unique serial numbers rising steadily
each month since "widespread capturing" of the details began in October 2005.
So they bought up computers, join the networks and map them out :)
What have the discovered?
The shock of people using the pipes they paid for ?

Pissing all over the Bill of Rights (1)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407784)

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

So the government can't do this, but private corporations can. Then, those private corporations turn around and give said information to the government without probable cause (just a sticky note).

Re:Pissing all over the Bill of Rights (1)

macintard (1270416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407854)

The information is publicly available, so no unreasonable search or seizure occurred. You are "pissing" up the wrong tree, to mix a metaphor.

Re:Pissing all over the Bill of Rights (1)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408316)

My post was sort of off topic. I was referring to earlier posts discussing ISPs capturing data not publicly available and storing it indefinitely.

Re:Pissing all over the Bill of Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408414)

This is true, because corporations are considered Citizens, and any citizen can report any other citizen. I'm sure it will only get better now that Corp. "Citizens" can donate/spend all the money they want to get people in office, but Individual Citizens are still limited to contributions of 2500. (Not that I have the money to give anyways). Both are just examples of how Corp.s have more rights than a regular citizen, its "free market economy" we have to let them run that way our we're evul social communists! /wrist gag

lol (5, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407948)

Being someone that works for a major ISP in the department in which we receive and act on copyright complaints, I can tell you... we hate it. Think of it this way, when the DMCA was passed we suddenly had to create an entire department that produced no profits. In fact, it sometimes forces us to disconnect customers and LOSE money. I know that managent rutinely goes to our legal department to find out if they can just stop enforcing DMCA all together. Now, throttling the bandwidth of torrent users? Yea... they're all over that. What ISPs want are little old ladies paying $100/month for 10MB service and only using it to check their mail once a day.

Re:lol (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408260)

Being someone that works for a major ISP in the department in which we receive and act on copyright complaints, I can tell you... we hate it.

The summary missed that one, but the commenters hit upon the real motivation almost immediately. The cable ISPs (not sure if the telcos care quite as much) care about bitorrent to the extent that "heavy users" cost more money to accommodate than they generate in monthly subscription fees; obviously the cable ISP would be better off financially if they could boot the "high cost/low value" customer and use the recovered bandwidth to sell a few more subscriptions to "good" customers (i.e. the ones who almost never use all of what they have paid for).

Note: The ISPs have had their revenge against the RIAA and Hollywood by setting up standard menus with prices for discovery that signal their displeasure. The prices are just high enough to discourage too much discovery from occurring while still being plausible (i.e. thousands of dollars per hour, but not millions). Attorneys may like to collect thousands of dollars per billable hour from their clients, but they really hate it when someone else charges them the same extortionate rates (turnabout is fair play after all) for their services.

Just implement bandwidth caps (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408574)

Fact is, bandwidth ain't free.
ISPs need to implement hard bandwidth caps (say, 100GB per month or whatever number makes sense depending on the plan you are on). If you exceed the usage caps, you have to pay extra (and/or your connection is dropped to slow speeds for the rest of the billing cycle)

Hard bandwidth caps combined with an easy to use usage meter to tell exactly how much you have left solve the problem. If someone wants to use their whole 100GB in the first few days sucking down globs of content from BitTorrent, so be it.

Properly implemented, bandwidth caps (especially if they are broken up into peak and off-peak to encourage large downloading to be done in the off-peak period when most users who want email, web etc are not using the net) eliminate the need for any kind of BitTorrent specific measures.

Any ISP that implemented bandwidth caps and found they still had problems with BitTorrent users would need to:
A.Charge more for their service (and use that money to buy more upstream to solve the problem)
B.Decrease the bandwidth caps (to reduce the amount of heavy downloading going on)
or C.Implement better QoS to send BitTorrent packets to the "back of the queue" when another protocol wants to use the network links.

Notice (1)

Woodengineer (1518029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408788)

Anyone else notice that the CEO of Polycipher actually works for Colorado University...conflict on interest much?

Prohibition II: The Return (1)

mykos (1627575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408828)

I honestly don't care if it's the ISPs deciding what is and isn't permissible communication, or if it's the government, or the copyright protection organizations.
An entity with broad control of what people can and can't communicate is more frightening to me than losing the .00000001% of people who make their millions from their personal art.
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