Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Comcast Confirmed as Discriminating Against FileSharing Traffic

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the harshing-on-my-patching dept.

The Internet 532

An anonymous reader writes "Comcast has been singled out as discriminating against filesharing traffic in quantitative tests conducted by the Associated Press. MSNBC's coverage of the discovery is quite even-handed. The site notes that while illegal content trading is a common use of the technology, Bittorrent is emerging as an effective medium for transferring 'weighty' legal content as well. 'Comcast's technology kicks in, though not consistently, when one BitTorrent user attempts to share a complete file with another user. Each PC gets a message invisible to the user that looks like it comes from the other computer, telling it to stop communicating. But neither message originated from the other computer -- it comes from Comcast.'" This is confirmation of anecdotal evidence presented by Comcast users back in August.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

ha (1, Funny)

UPZ (947916) | about 7 years ago | (#21042259)

surprise..

LOL (3, Insightful)

zoomshorts (137587) | about 7 years ago | (#21042455)

But we now have the "Hammer" method. Boycott the bastards, no matter what the cost.
Then when the people we use as an alternative to Comcast start to mess with us, just
DROP them too.

Simple market response.

Re:ha (1)

Holy69 (938902) | about 7 years ago | (#21042801)

Turn encryption on within your bit torrent client, problem fixed.

Re:ha (3, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | about 7 years ago | (#21042835)

What is surprising is that they RST on anything going over TCP from any of their customers to another of their customers. It is not just P2P. Lotus notes gets whacked in a similar manner and so on. Cable Internet Engineering at its best.

Yea, right (1, Funny)

pilsner.urquell (734632) | about 7 years ago | (#21042263)

As we all know, BitTorrent is only used in illegal activity.

Re:Yea, right (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21042495)

It's not the legality that Comcast takes issue with, it's the use of bandwidth. You're not supposed to actually use the bandwidth you buy, you see.

Re:Yea, right (1)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | about 7 years ago | (#21042815)

Of course! Because each download always and forever equals one lost sale! The RIAA and MPAA have declared it so! There is NO legitimate purpose for file sharing! NONE!! Get that through your head!

I mean - for example, how much money is Ubuntu losing because of all BitTorrent downloads of its latest version of Linux? Er... wait...

Ubuntu 7.10 and Comcast (2, Interesting)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 7 years ago | (#21042931)

OK, now, let's suppose that I live in the U.S. (thank God I don't), that I've never illegally downloaded music (just for the sake of the argument), and that by the vicissitudes of fate, I happen to live in a zone monopolized by Comcast (again, thank God I don't).

Now, let's say I got sick tired of Windows (because just yesterday my legitimate-but-illegally-cracked due-to-legalized-limit-of-3-reinstalls-max copy of Windows, downloaded an update without notifying me! Only when I was about to shut down it told me), and I want to try out Gutsy Gibbon.

How am I supposed to download it, if Comcast thinks I'm stealing (and who the heck do they think they are, judge dredd?) pirated music? Oh, right, I'll mask my communications and encrypt all traffic, which is seen as evil and pro-terrorist by the current administration. What's next, sending me to Guantanamo for encrypting my LEGITIMATE traffic and demanding some LEGITIMATE privacy?

Sometimes I read the RIAA's arguments and I think I can figure out what they're saying behind us: "Oh, yeah, 'downloading Linux' (nudge) yeah, right... (smirk) 'legitimate traffic' (nudge), heh heh."

The problem with this thinking is that: a) Linux userbase (and those curious to download) has increased tremendously since Ubuntu came out. It's not the 1% it was a few years ago. At last I'm starting to believe that Linux is arriving to the Desktop. b) they do NOT respect the minorities. Even if it's only 1% of the population, ISPs should ensure that they get the traffic they PAID FOR. c) Where do I file for authorization to use bittorrent? Do I need a Linux certificate to demonstrate I'm not a music pirate, now? d) And what about free independent music? e) If they're only going to allow HTTP usage, I'd appreciate if at least they were F***ING SINCERE about it, k?

<rant>
That said, I wonder how they put their noses in bittorrent communication and at the same time they DON'T SHUT THE DAMN SMTP PORT used by the millions of zombified computers sending me spam! At least we have proved that they can, now!
</rant>

Whew, that felt good.

Another thing I forgot to write (2, Interesting)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 7 years ago | (#21043031)

One copy of a Linux distro requires at least 700MB. Which is equivalent to 150 downloaded MP3's. This traffic is definitely NOT a minority.

Any World of Warcraft users... (5, Informative)

mdm-adph (1030332) | about 7 years ago | (#21042285)

...noticing problems downloading the patches on Comcast?

Just wondering since WoW uses Bittorrent to distribute its patches (one example of a very legitimate use).

Re:Any World of Warcraft users... (1)

Gregb05 (754217) | about 7 years ago | (#21042563)

I would be very surprised if Blizzard didn't account for BitTorrent failing and having a backup mechanism or two.

Re:Any World of Warcraft users... (1)

shoptroll (544006) | about 7 years ago | (#21042661)

I'm pretty certain Blizzard's BitTorrent downloader will pull via FTP from their servers if it can't connect via BitTorrent. That's the way it works when I went to grab the Starcraft II trailers earlier this year. You can also force it to use FTP only I believe.

Re:Any World of Warcraft users... (3, Informative)

webvictim (674073) | about 7 years ago | (#21043041)

FYI, it actually pulls them via HTTP (rather than FTP) from Blizzard's servers. The problem is that on patch day (or anything up to about two weeks after it) the HTTP servers get massively overloaded, so if you can't use BitTorrent then it will take an absolute age to download a patch. This is why people started downloading the patches and then putting them on HTTP mirrors. It's quite often a much better way of getting a patch, particularly considering that Blizzard's download client doesn't seem to pay much regard to your upstream speed, and therefore frequently saturates your connection to the point where the patch download actually slows down.

Re:Any World of Warcraft users... (3, Interesting)

ivan256 (17499) | about 7 years ago | (#21042633)

I know that people are always bitching about how long (45 minutes+ for some people I know) it took them to download a patch... While at the same time I've been able to download patches over my non-Comcast connection at over 2MBytes/second... I don't know that all of those people have comcast, but I know that some of them do.

</anecdote>

Re:Any World of Warcraft users... (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 7 years ago | (#21042821)

My comcast connection (10 megabit) takes 45 minutes to download a patch.

Common carrier (1, Interesting)

techpawn (969834) | about 7 years ago | (#21042289)

That's a violation of common carrier status isn't it? To say what information can and can not travel along the lines?

Re:Common carrier (2, Informative)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 7 years ago | (#21042335)

Comcast isn't a "common carrier". Also, their cable, their rules, don't like it, ditch Comcast. Now, IANAL, but maybe your argument would apply to DSL, being over the phone lines and all.

Re:Common carrier (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 7 years ago | (#21042653)

Also, their cable, their rules, don't like it, ditch Comcast.

While the cable is theirs, they have leased it - or some capacity on it - to the customer, and are now actively and purpsefully preventing the customer from using the service he has bought. While the contract likely has a clause which lets comcast terminate the service and/or alter it at any time at will, I wonder if such a clause wouldn't be ruled unconsciable; after all, it essentially states that Comcast is not really bound by the agreement.

Or, to put it another way: Your house, your rules, but if you rent it to someone else, you can't bar them from entering.

However, your advise - ditch Comcast - is certainly very sound.

Re:Common carrier (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 7 years ago | (#21042899)

While the cable is theirs, they have leased it - or some capacity on it - to the customer, and are now actively and purpsefully preventing the customer from using the service he has bought. Leased? I don't think so. And, did you read the contract for service when you signed it? It describes the services that Comcast is offering you, and probably Comcast's rights to do whatever the fuck they like, and so on. I'll bet there is a berbage about restricting services that in their opinion degrade their system.

I wonder if such a clause wouldn't be ruled unconsciable
Unconscionable? Is that illegal? I thought most publically traded companies where Unconscionable.

Your house, your rules, but if you rent it to someone else, you can't bar them from entering.
As a landlord, you most certainly can put restictions on what types of activities are acceptable in / on your properties.

Re:Common carrier (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 7 years ago | (#21042969)

Yes but even as a land lord there are strong restrictions on your ability to evict people. It can take weeks or months after a violation is identified.

Re:Common carrier (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21043075)

Or, to put it another way: Your house, your rules, but if you rent it to someone else, you can't bar them from entering.
I'm getting tired of Comcast too but they aren't preventing you from downloading (entering) just from seeding once the download is complete. Haven't looked at the EULA (rental agreement from your analogy) lately but I think there is something about not using your account for providing content i.e a website. They may claim that seeding torrents is equivalent to hosting a website. Which it is from a traffic (bandwidth) perspective.

Re:Common carrier (3, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 7 years ago | (#21042879)

Yes, but sending fraudulent messages could be against the law, which is what they're doing here.

Re:Common carrier (2, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 7 years ago | (#21042923)

Also, their cable, their rules, don't like it, ditch Comcast
do you really think if people had an alternative they would be using comcast? the whole problem is that comcast is your only choice in certain areas, there is no one to switch to- either you go with them or no internet for you.

Comcast != Common Carrier (3, Informative)

winkydink (650484) | about 7 years ago | (#21042363)

This is a very common misconception.

Re:Comcast != Common Carrier (2, Interesting)

poetmatt (793785) | about 7 years ago | (#21042847)

unfortunately, it's not a misconception. [slashdot.org]

Also the original forum post from DSLreports [dslreports.com] user funchords = Robb. Notice the stuff said. I helped him investigate and can verify that comcast has been and still does this, via Wireshark. They send RST packets to you and the people you're uploading to on a random 1-18 second timer if the user is not a comcast user themselves. (It used to be an automatic 8 second timer but now they added a small degree of "randomization"...they seem to be exploring it, there was a week where it would block 35% of incoming requests in this fashion instead of 100%, 50% the next week, etc.) Also I know how to monitor but not how to make my router ignore RST flags, so it's not like I had a way to get around it.

However, sandvine doesn't seem to work over encrypted connections so if you force encryption it appears that they can't insert a RST flag.

Re:Comcast != Common Carrier (2, Informative)

quantum bit (225091) | about 7 years ago | (#21042929)

They send RST packets to you and the people you're uploading to on a random 1-18 second timer if the user is not a comcast user themselves.
Whoa. When I read the description I figured they were spoofing ICMP source quench messages or something to slow down the connection. Resetting random connections is just downright rude.

It's official, cable companies are evil. Though AT&T isn't much better...

Re:Comcast != Common Carrier (2, Interesting)

poetmatt (793785) | about 7 years ago | (#21043095)

I only learned what I know thanks to Robb explaining as I tested with his advice, so I have no idea what the ICMP spoof thing is. Do you have a link of some stuff I could read to understand how that works/how to prevent that? Or does that even happen often, anyway? Also sounds like they might be doing it to FTP and SSC (I don't know what SSC is but it was mentioned on the forums) as well.

Re:Common carrier (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | about 7 years ago | (#21042413)

But do you think anything is going to be done about it?

Re:Common carrier (0)

legirons (809082) | about 7 years ago | (#21042441)

"That's a violation of common carrier status isn't it?"

Having just got immunity after doing a load of very illegal stuff, the telcos are probably feeling quite invulnerable now...

Re:Common carrier (1)

arivanov (12034) | about 7 years ago | (#21042491)

Cable companies are not carriers. They are information providers (or the equivalent status) in the USA and almost everywhere else. They are not subject to any of the limitations to which carriers have to comply.

Re:Common carrier (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | about 7 years ago | (#21042649)

I'd imagine, though, there's some customer right being violated here. Sure, they've got something in their Terms of Service, but those are on shakey ground legally as it is if memory serves.

Indeed it is - Mod parent up (1)

laing (303349) | about 7 years ago | (#21042863)

They will either have to back away from this policy, challenge the rules themselves, or start filtering traffic even more agressively than the Chinese.

Common Carrier (1)

3p1ph4ny (835701) | about 7 years ago | (#21042307)

Isn't Comcast a common carrier, which makes it illegal for them to spoof things on their network? Or am I just confused...

Re:Common Carrier (4, Informative)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 7 years ago | (#21042389)

ISPs generally don't have common carrier status.

From wikipedia [wikipedia.org] : "Internet Service Providers generally wish to avoid being classified as a "common carrier" and, so far, have managed to do so. Before 1996, such classification could be helpful in defending a monopolistic position, but the main focus of policy has been on competition, so "common carrier" status has little value for ISPs, while carrying obligations they would rather avoid. The key FCC Order on this point is: IN RE FEDERAL-STATE JOINT BOARD ON UNIVERSAL SERVICE, 13 FCC Rcd. 11501 (1998), which holds that ISP service (both "retail" and backbone) is an "information service" (not subject to common carrier obligations) rather than a "telecommunications service" (which might be classified as "common carriage")."

Re:Common Carrier (1)

3p1ph4ny (835701) | about 7 years ago | (#21042535)

Ah, thanks.

Encrypt Everything (5, Insightful)

Snowgen (586732) | about 7 years ago | (#21042323)

They're basically doing this with a "man in the middle" attack by sending false messages to both parties in the communication, pretending to be the other. This is why all net traffic needs to be encrypted and signed.

Re:Encrypt Everything (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21042571)

Why isn't this illegal? It sounds like they are impersonating one of the sides of a conversation.

Are they allowed to do the same thing with Skype (or anything else they want) and tell the other side I want to disconnect? Where is the legal line?

Illegal forgery and defense (5, Interesting)

Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) | about 7 years ago | (#21042797)

It likely is illegal.

Just because it is their network DOES not give them the right to FORGE IP packets to look as if they come from elsewhere.

That would be like a courier service forging documents from 2 people wanting to communicate saying "Stop sending documents" if they didn't want them to talk. They'd never do something that stupid, and if they did, they couldn't get out of charges by saying they were only forging documents through their service.

Forgery is illegal. Someone who had a forged RST packet sent in their name should have forgery charges pressed and sue for impersonation.

A technical defense is to block RST packets. Probably not hard to do under Linux, and likely trivial.

Re:Illegal forgery and defense (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | about 7 years ago | (#21042857)

A technical defense is to block RST packets. Probably not hard to do under Linux, and likely trivial.

Also probably very silly to do. And won't work unless both ends of the communication are doing it.

Re:Illegal forgery and defense (4, Insightful)

quantum bit (225091) | about 7 years ago | (#21043007)

A technical defense is to block RST packets. Probably not hard to do under Linux, and likely trivial.
Sure you could modify the source to ignore the RST flag, but that would probably completely hose your networking, since it's sort of an integral part of TCP/IP functioning. Sometimes the packet with FIN set does get lost.

I guess it might work for a while until you ran out of memory for tracking state of all the connections that never close. :D

Re:Encrypt Everything (1)

44BSD (701309) | about 7 years ago | (#21042895)

I may be wrong, but from the descriptions it sounds as though Comcast is simply forging TCP RST packets. From the articles, it seems as though the traffic type (at least in the Lotus Notes case) is determined solely by destination port. If this is the case, application-level encryption would not be an effective countermeasure.

Re:Encrypt Everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21042587)

This is probably illegal in at least some of the states they service.

No Im not saying using routers to limit traffic is Illegal but pretending to be some other network host probably falls under a hacking law somewhere.

This should be the topic of discussion (1)

Nymz (905908) | about 7 years ago | (#21042687)

This is why all net traffic needs to be encrypted and signed.
Instead of talking about World of Warcraft, or how much Comcast sucks, we should be discussing why & how to go about implimenting some type of encryption envelope around all our traffic.

While it's a nice idea in theory (1)

paranode (671698) | about 7 years ago | (#21042819)

In practice, it would require that everyone that gets a moderate amount of traffic to probably upgrade hardware to handle all the extra overhead of cipher processing. Also, since most users are clueless as to how it works, they will accept any old certificate and click "Yes" to everything.

Re:While it's a nice idea in theory (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 7 years ago | (#21043105)

Also, since most users are clueless as to how it works, they will accept any old certificate and click "Yes" to everything.

Who said encrypted = https?

Re:Encrypt Everything (2, Interesting)

secPM_MS (1081961) | about 7 years ago | (#21042823)

You didn't go far enough. Comcast and other carriers have a good commercial motive to use deep packet inspection and modification to remove adds from web pages being transferred and replace them with adds that they are paid to display. Clearly, additional results could be added to search results as well. This breaks the business model of the web.

The simplest solution, and one that I think the web sites will eventually support (once they get over the cost for HW encryption support) is to use SSL / TLS. This is the easiest way that they can protect their advertising revenue from middleman parasites.

P2P environments are going to have to go to encryption as well. Note that Diffie-Helleman key agreement is not safe against an active man in the middle, so the crypto will have to be done with some care and great care will have to be taken to deal with a large number of malicious proxies of the various hostile middlemen.

Re:Encrypt Everything (2, Insightful)

headbulb (534102) | about 7 years ago | (#21042911)

All net traffic? Why? That isn't addressing the original issue of the carrier messing with packets it shouldn't.

Instead if all traffic being encrypted along with taking lots of otherwise unused cpu and perhaps Bandwidth. Lists of ip address that are suspect will have their packets dropped at random instead.

The fight isn't on any technical means, it's more on a political means.

So in the end, encryption while a good technical work around. Is escalating the fight. This isn't what we should be fighting for, we should be fighting for common carrier status, and for the people to have more rights then corporations.

If a corporation isn't able to get customers without coercing people into it. Then that corp isn't serving the people as it should and shouldn't be propped up. (other words they need to change their business modal)

Lets make this a I want my rights back instead of a fine I will just encrypt my traffic fight.

Re:Encrypt Everything (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21042955)

you can't encrypt the TCP handshake. The Comcast attack (by sending false TCP resets/RSTs) still works against encrypted traffic. Encrypted traffic is carried as the data payload with in-the-clear TCP headers. As long as Comcast can discern (or even cares to discern) which traffic is undesirable from the TCP headers themselves (e.g., TCP port number, weighted aggregate traffic, many-to-one traffic connections, etc.) Comcast can still send your box a TCP RST and torch the session.

Good (2, Interesting)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | about 7 years ago | (#21042325)

Now maybe the "net neutrality isn't important because we can trust giant corporations not to screw their customers crowd" will shut up. Of course, the people getting paid to lobby or keep those bills out of Congress won't change their mind, but maybe regular people will. And that's a step in the right direction.

This story does make me wish I was not boycotting Comcast already though, so I could boycott it for this.

Re:Good (5, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 7 years ago | (#21042701)

Now maybe the "net neutrality isn't important because we can trust giant corporations not to screw their customers crowd" will shut up. Of course, the people getting paid to lobby or keep those bills out of Congress won't change their mind, but maybe regular people will. And that's a step in the right direction.

This story does make me wish I was not boycotting Comcast already though, so I could boycott it for this.


Actually, this will hurt net neutrality because everyone is getting QoS confused with Net Neutrality!

QoS is legal, and it should exist. Prioritizing classes of traffic is OK, provided the classes are generic classes of traffic (e.g., email, web, ftp, p2p, voip, etc).

Net Neutrality is compatible with QoS. What Net Neutrality proponents want isn't avoidance of QoS, but to prevent deals where if you use Windows Live Search, it comes up instantly, while if you use Google, you'll find yourself waiting a good minute for the frontpage to load up. I.e., both use the same class of traffic (web), but service is differentiated based on who can pay.

So Comcast causing Bittorrent problems is OK for Net Neutrality. But if Comcast suddenly lets Blizzard's WoW updates unimpeded while causing problems for say, Linux ISO torrents, then that conflicts with Net Neutrality.

Basically, like traffic should be treated alike. But unlike traffic may be treated differently. So if Comcast charged an extra $10 for enhanced VoIP QoS, that's OK, as long as it's for all VoIP, not just say, Vonage only, or Skype.

Net Neutrality opponents like to bleat the Anti-QoS line because it's the easiest way to spread FUD, when they really mean "Google, pay us, or we'll make your page take ages to load, while making Windows Live Search load instantly".

Re:Good (1)

Bob-taro (996889) | about 7 years ago | (#21043099)

Now maybe the "net neutrality isn't important because we can trust giant corporations not to screw their customers crowd" will shut up. Of course, the people getting paid to lobby or keep those bills out of Congress won't change their mind, but maybe regular people will. And that's a step in the right direction.

Or maybe the customers will notice and drop service or go to a competitor. I don't think anyone expects the giant corporations to be good without outside pressure. It's just better (IMO) if the pressure comes from the customers, rather than the government. The problem is that the industry is so regulated already, the customers may have no where else to go.

You know, with real competition, I can imagine a NON - neutral web working quite well. Say ISP "A" was throttling or blocking torrents and customers didn't like that. That's a good opportunity for ISP "B" to start up and NOT block it. Then the people who want torrents move to "B" and the people who stay with "A" (might) have better service because they're not competing with people constantly downloading GBs of files (whether or not it's not all warez and pr0n).

World of Warcraft (5, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | about 7 years ago | (#21042349)

If one wishes to find a legitimate example of bittorrent sharing of legitimate files, one need look no further than the largest MMORPG on the market - World of Warcraft. Patches are automatically (assuming the user doesn't disable the feature) downloaded using bittorrent. And Blizzard is more than aware of and approving of this, given that they programmed the feature. Needless to say, I think any internet service provider who disrupts a consumer's legitimate use of their internet connection is a service provider that doesn't deserve the consumer's money...

Re:World of Warcraft (1)

shoptroll (544006) | about 7 years ago | (#21042781)

OCRemix.org also uses BitTorrent as a distribution mechanism for people who wish to grab large file sets from the site, namely collaboration projects centered around remixing specific game soundtrack.
Eclipse.org uses it as a distribution channel for their IDE.
I believe podcasts/netcasts (and most likely video podcasts/netcasts) make use of it as a distribution channel.
There's also linux ISOs, movie/game trailers, game demos, game mods make use of it as well.
XFire uses something similar to BitTorrent for sharing game patches and other content between it's users as well.

It's taking a while but there are plenty of legitimate uses for BitTorrent out there.

Encryption (4, Informative)

Drachemorder (549870) | about 7 years ago | (#21042367)

In my experience, bittorrent transfers are much faster on my Comcast connection when I choose to encrypt them. That suggests to me that Comcast is indeed throttling normal bittorrent traffic.

Re:Encryption (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | about 7 years ago | (#21042877)

In my experience, bittorrent transfers are much faster on my Comcast connection when I choose to encrypt them. That suggests to me that Comcast is indeed throttling normal bittorrent traffic.

An alternate explanation would be that most of the well-connected peers may require encryption by this point; then you'd see the same effect even without interference from Comcast.

Re:Encryption (2, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | about 7 years ago | (#21043021)

Comcast and the others who engage in packet shaping are only hastening the day when encrypted protocols protected by strong encryption (AES probably) are commonplace. Perhaps they realize this and are using the packet shapers as a stop-gap measure while they upgrade their infrastructure to handle the increased loads, but I doubt it.

Re:Encryption (1)

p00pyd00py (1174655) | about 7 years ago | (#21043029)

Is Comcast examining the contents of packets? Sounds like a privacy issure to me.

Re:Encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21043081)

I didn't even know you could encrypt bittorrent traffic... how do you do that?

Not just P2P traffic (5, Informative)

TheHappyMailAdmin (913609) | about 7 years ago | (#21042369)

I've posted this before, but it's pertinent and bears repeating, it's not just P2P traffic that Comcast is filtering. A sysadmin I know has been blogging on Comcast filtering corporate e-mail traffic as well.

http://kkanarski.blogspot.com/2007/09/comcast-filtering-lotus-notes-update.html [blogspot.com]

Hey! Mod Parent Informative (1)

asphaltjesus (978804) | about 7 years ago | (#21042529)

Really.

Subtitled: How To Lose Your Customers To DSL (4, Insightful)

fz00 (466988) | about 7 years ago | (#21042377)

After Comcast loses all their customers to DSL, will they complain about [whatever DSL company]'s unfair monopoly advantage?

Re:Subtitled: How To Lose Your Customers To DSL (4, Informative)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 7 years ago | (#21042569)

After Comcast loses all their customers to DSL, will they complain about [whatever DSL company]'s unfair monopoly advantage?
This is exceptionally unlikely to happen. The social groups that Slashdot folks circulate in are not the average. I know it's hard to believe, but very few of Comcast's customers give a shit about BitTorrent of p2p, even if they where aware of their existence. Most of Comcast's customers are average low-volume (if at all) computer users who have Comcast to view television, and picked up Interweb connectivity as part of a package.

Comcast has decided that p2p degrades their system, for them it's more of a technical issue than a political one (though I'm sure the **AA Gestapo have been in touch with them).

Re:Subtitled: How To Lose Your Customers To DSL (1)

bsane (148894) | about 7 years ago | (#21042579)

I'd love to try DSL... Unfortunately like most comcast customers I don't have any other broadband options available.

Re:Subtitled: How To Lose Your Customers To DSL (1)

Enry (630) | about 7 years ago | (#21042983)

That's my situation. I moved into my house (10 mi NW of Boston) about 8 years ago. If I were one town over (maybe 300 yards), I could get my choice of DSL, FIOS, or two different cable providers. My section of town has only Comcast. No FIOS anywhere in town, no alternate cable provider in town, and I'm too far away from the CO to get DSL.

I wonder (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 7 years ago | (#21042381)

if the provider of a service can be charged with Denial of Service, even though they are the providers of the service...

Title Inapt (5, Insightful)

jkabbe (631234) | about 7 years ago | (#21042393)

When I read the words "discriminating against" I assumed that Comcast was simply giving higher priority to non-bittorrent traffic. Given what they are doing, I think "interfering with" would be better language. This isn't just a passive downgrading. This is active blocking.

Re:Title Inapt (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 7 years ago | (#21043039)

I think the words you're looking for are "fraud", "hacking" and "denial of service", as I'm sure they'll find out in court.

Re:Title Inapt (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about 7 years ago | (#21043047)

This isn't just a passive downgrading. This is active blocking.

You could also call it "preserving their limited bandwidth to handle the sort of traffic that most of their customers need, and which would really feel like bad performance if it was laggy"

Registering legitimate files (3, Interesting)

name*censored* (884880) | about 7 years ago | (#21042409)

Whilst I'd be opposed to such an idea being put into practice, why doesn't comcast request that legitimate torrent/tracker sites register with them in exchange for guaranteed non-filtering (similar to proposals against Net Neutrality)? It'd make comcast happy, since they're able to reduce the amount of traffic on their network and say that they provide options for legal P2P. I know that it would likely result in

1) Comcast charging for the privilege
2) Outcry from legitimate sites
3) Losing paying customers who pirate

Re:Registering legitimate files (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | about 7 years ago | (#21042793)

Because they don't want to loose customers and torrents eat bandwidth.

Fix to comcast. (5, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 years ago | (#21042447)

Set your bittorrent client to only use encrypted traffic. It fixes comcast's little red wagon fast.

Almost all up to date bittorrent clients support this.

Re:Fix to comcast. (1)

TadMSTR (996071) | about 7 years ago | (#21042659)

That's exactly what I do. I set uTorrent to force encryption and accept incoming legacy connections. So far it seems to work fine, except the fact Comcast provides crappy upload speeds. I have to cap my upstream at 16-20kbps just to get decent down speeds. It's hard to keep a good ratio on private trackers while using Comcast.

I've said it before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21042449)

Comcast is the Devil.

Doesn't the very act of policing content (5, Interesting)

sdkramer (411640) | about 7 years ago | (#21042453)

make them somewhat responsible for what content is on their network?

"Hello, RIAA. I have reason to believe Comcast is allowing illegal music trafficking to occur."

It's Comcastic!

Comcast... Where? (4, Insightful)

Kainaw (676073) | about 7 years ago | (#21042457)

Comcast is in many different cities - each office running independently of all others. Which offices are blocking bittorrent? I use it all the time, on Comcast, without any trouble. I have more issues at work (with traffic shaping junk) than Comcast. So, I do not see how this is a company-wide problem. It may be something only used in problematic areas.

First P (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21042463)

Subject says it all

I'm outraged! (4, Funny)

Kohath (38547) | about 7 years ago | (#21042465)

This is the worst Internet injustice since the last thing that had Slashdot's panties in a wad. And that one was so horrible that everyone forgot about it.

Interesting note (1)

shoptroll (544006) | about 7 years ago | (#21042499)

When people were first talking about issues, I setup Azureus again to help seed some of the site projects over at OCRemix. However, in the last two weeks I've noticed that I'm getting NAT Ok? and Firewalled status messages on Azureus, despite it still allowing me to push through at 20kb/s upload (which seemed like a fairly good upload seeing as I could barely muster 5 kb/s on Charter at my previous residence). I know for a fact I haven't been monkeying with my firewall or NAT Router since I got everything working so I'm willing to say something's changed on the ISP's end. I'm not entirely surprised though.

evil corps (1)

omfglearntoplay (1163771) | about 7 years ago | (#21042533)

Good ole money hungry, cheating as much as they can to save or make a buck corporations to the rescue once again.

On the other hand... (3, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 7 years ago | (#21042549)

Their [youtube.com] commercials [youtube.com] make sense on a whole new level now.

Question.... (3, Informative)

8127972 (73495) | about 7 years ago | (#21042589)

Actually two of them:

1. What hardware/software would carriers have to use to do this?

2. Can it be defeated?

Fwiw, Rogers cable in Canada is rumored to be doing the same thing (and perhaps more). Michael Geist talks about this on his blog: http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/1859/ [michaelgeist.ca]

Re:Question.... (1)

ptbarnett (159784) | about 7 years ago | (#21042917)

What hardware/software would carriers have to use to do this?

This article on Yahoo! News [yahoo.com] points to Sandvine [sandvine.com] .

However, neither Comcast or Sandvine would comment about the technology being used.

DMCA (1)

grimsie (1150393) | about 7 years ago | (#21042591)

I wonder if they just subjected themselves to exposure by altering the way torrent works? Anyone with a law background know by chance?

Re:DMCA (1)

Verteiron (224042) | about 7 years ago | (#21042805)

I think you could get them on a DMCA provision only if they were decrypting BT traffic in order to block it. Of course, if you were a major corporation you could probably claim that TCP/IP is a form of "encoding" and thus by mangling packets Comcast is in violation, but I don't think ordinary "consumers" are allowed to use the DMCA in that manner.

Dubious legality of forging resets... (2, Interesting)

isaac (2852) | about 7 years ago | (#21042623)

Comcast would be well within their rights to drop or deprioritize bittorrent packets, but it's not at all clear that sending TCP reset segments with forged source IP addresses is kosher.

If all traffic flowed through a Comcast-controlled proxy that was disclosed, there probably wouldn't be a problem, but Comcast is actually forging source addresses on both sides with the effect of concealing their actions and fooling the parties on each end into terminating their connections at (what they believe to be) each other's legitimate request.

I imagine this method of traffic limiting could be litigated sooner or later since it affects customers who are not party to the RST-inserting carrier's TOS.

-Isaac

Re:Dubious legality of forging resets... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21042885)

http://www.cnet.com/8301-13739_1-9769645-46.html [cnet.com]

This article does seem to put forth an interesting idea. I wonder if a case could be reasonably put together for Comcast impersonating its users in violation of the law.

Wait a few months (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21042711)

... and they'll come out with a "BitTorrent enhanced" package as part of a "quadruple play".

but why..... (1)

apodyopsis (1048476) | about 7 years ago | (#21042725)

...are people surprised?

if enough people complain or walk then they will change their practices.

By the way - well spotted.

Forget "throttling," what about "masquerading?" (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 7 years ago | (#21042837)

The issue of traffic shaping should be kept separate from the issue of:

--Comcast using forgery or masquerading

--Comcast deceiving customers about its true terms of service

--Comcast hiding what it is doing, thereby giving no means to complain or give them feedback about technical problems

What would be nice (5, Interesting)

Cryophallion (1129715) | about 7 years ago | (#21042851)

If I remember correctly, Comcast says that something like 1% of the user base causes 15% of the bandwidth, etc. Therefore, they throttle the thing that takes up the most bandwidth (torrents), in the name of helping out all the other users.

However, I would love to see stats on what percentage of their users actually use bittorrent. Until someone can prove that more than 1% use it, they can use that argument and 85% of people will shout"Yeah, more bandwidth for me, screw those pirates", without realizing the legitimate torrent uses (such as linux distro rollouts, patches as mentioned before, media defender email leaks, etc).

At leas the media is finally catching on, but until we get people to realizing that it is a slippery slope that affects them, there will not be enough uproar to stop them.

So, if we could only get our hands on how many people use it... we might be able to make some noise. Until then, the average joe will say "So What?"

Net Neutrality filtered by Comcast, too? (1)

devnullkac (223246) | about 7 years ago | (#21042921)

When I try to access the third page [msn.com] of the article, labeled CONTINUED: "Net Neutrality" debate, the server says Page not found. Is Comcast (or MSNBC's carrier) somehow interfering here, too, just to keep me from reading about the debate?

Against the TOS (2, Informative)

Spazmania (174582) | about 7 years ago | (#21042933)

If you run bittorrent, your PC acts as both a client and a server. Running a server on your residential comcast account is a violation of the terms of service. Cutting that connection is neither discrimination nor abandonment of network neutrality; its simple contract enforcement.

This is not new. The prohibition against running servers on residential accounts has been around since the dialup days. What is new is that they're targetting the application instead of cancelling or forcibly upgrading the account.

If you don't like it, pay the extra bucks and upgrade to the hobbyist / small business account. If you pay for an account which permits you to run a server and they still interfere, then you have a real complaint.

Legal action? (3, Interesting)

Thaelon (250687) | about 7 years ago | (#21042981)

Could Comcast be found guilty of fraud law or violating some computer usage law because of this?

On one hand, they're deliberately pretending to be the person you're communicating with (fraud?). On the other they're deliberately degrading performance of a person's internet connection (vaguely DOS-ish), a person one who isn't necessarily their customer.

Thoughts?

This makes my blood run cold (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21042987)

I hope you Comcast users out there prepare to move your butt and actually make the honest-to-god switch to DSL or HSDPA.

Because ANY of you out there who continue to pay money to Comcast with full knowledge of their efforts to actively BLOCK, CENSOR, and INTERFERE with your Internet connection are henceforth, because of this news today, officially and PUBLICLY SUPPORTING COMCAST, CHINA, 'the dark side of the PATRIOT ACT', and ALL other entities and institutions that support the argument that the World Wide Web ought to be monitored, manipulated, and controlled.

If you think this ends with bittorrent, we are all in for a RUDE awakening. THIS IS JUST BE BEGINNING.

I don't think this is all Comcast discriminates... (4, Interesting)

Krojack (575051) | about 7 years ago | (#21042993)

I work for a VoIP provider and of all our customers, only the people using Comcast have voice brake-up. All other broadband including myself (charter) have perfect quality. It's sad when we get blamed for this when in fact its not our problem. I was on the phone with Comcast many times over just to get them to clear the problem up so my sister could have good VoIP quality. It still has problems here and there but at least its good now for the most part.

BTW, This has gotten worse ever since Comcast started offering VoIP.

Quick solution (1)

kimvette (919543) | about 7 years ago | (#21043015)

ipfw add deny tcp from any to any 6890 in tcpflags rst

. . .
It's been 9 seconds since you hit 'reply'.

Oh noes! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21043051)

Comcast hit it on the head! Filesharing technology is only used for pirating! But this is only the tip of the iceberg!

There's this whole infrastructure that's being used to pirate material every day! It's this insidious thing called "the internet". Comcast better hurry up and block everyone from trying to access that as well, least they be tempted to violate copyright laws!

Frist S7op? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21043073)

current core were purposes *BSD is head spinning members all over people's faces is AAl our times have in ratio of 5 to become Zlike they A dead man walking. we all know, list of other is also a miserable Slashdot's A need to play good to write you There's no but suffice it but suffice it name on the jar of development models the public eye: Fly They looked are looking very rivalry, and we'll be in a scene and Example, if you approximately 90% too many rules and Year contract. [nero-online.org] Was in the tea I Or mislead the people's faces is prima donnas to bunch of retarded corporations balance is struck, ass until I hit my Very sick and its

What do they call that form of attack? (1)

_KiTA_ (241027) | about 7 years ago | (#21043091)

Each PC gets a message invisible to the user that looks like it comes from the other computer, telling it to stop communicating. But neither message originated from the other computer -- it comes from Comcast.'"

Isn't that called a smurf attack? Or something similar? Basically when you send a fake TCP/IP packet with faked headers that basically says "cancel this connection" over and over again?

Having said that, wouldn't it be somewhat easy to work around? Just filter those messages out during Bittorrent? Or extend the protocol to include a "Hi, we just got disconnected, want to try again from where we left off" step after the initial disconnect?

Does this affect people running encryption?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?