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Comcast Continues to Block Peer to Peer Traffic

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the seems-to-have-a-hyperinflated-sense-of-self dept.

The Internet 283

narramissic writes "A report released Thursday by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) finds that Comcast continues to use hacker-like techniques to slow down customers' connections to some P-to-P (peer-to-peer) applications. The EFF said that Comcast appears to be injecting RST, or reset, packets into customers' connections, causing connections to close. 'The investigators say that their tests confirmed an earlier one conducted by the Associated Press that showed that Comcast is interfering with BitTorrent traffic. BitTorrent is a protocol used to efficiently distribute the online transmission of large files, and some entertainment companies have partnered with its creators to distribute its content online. Comcast has said that it doesn't block BitTorrent, or any kind of content.'" If you're the type that always looks for a silver lining, Comcast's skulduggery may be pushing Congress to reconsider Net Neutrality.

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skul what? (5, Funny)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540287)

Never ascribe to skulduggery that which can be adequately explained by asshattery.

Re:skul what? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540297)

Seems like jackassery to me.

Re:skul what? (1)

domatic (1128127) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540557)

But if they're engaging in fucktardery?

Re:skul what? (2, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540793)

That would indicate the old school way of doing things. Invisible and moving bandwidth caps and stuff like that. You know, Because when they tell you that your buying a 3 meg/second connection that is always on and you do something to always be using it, you have somehow robbed them.

Re:skul what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21540779)

skulduggery verb: to insert male genitals in another persons head. IE skull fuck

Re:skul what? (5, Funny)

QRDeNameland (873957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540879)

Never ascribe to skulduggery that which can be adequately explained by asshattery.

I believe that's known as "Shitcock's Razor".

Maybe it's their new hookup instructions? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21540295)

I think the problem may be due to their new cable modem hookup diagram [ripway.com] .

Straight from thier lawyers mouths (4, Informative)

bizitch (546406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540343)

Here is the official load of crap you get if you bitch about it to them .....

-- begin bunch of shit ---

Thank you for contacting Comcast Cable Mark.

Thank you for writing to us in response to reports about Comcast's
efforts to manage peer-to-peer traffic on our networks.

Mark, we have posted new FAQs on our Web site making clear to our
customers the steps we are taking to protect the customer experience for
all of our customers. You may access content related to this issue in
the FAQ section of http://www.comcast.net/ [comcast.net]

First, and most importantly, you should know that Comcast does not block
access to any Web site or application, including peer-to-peer services
like BitTorrent. Our customers use the Internet for downloading and
uploading files, watching movies and videos, streaming music, sharing
digital photos, accessing numerous peer-to-peer sites, VOIP applications
like Vonage, and thousands of other applications online.

Mark, we have a responsibility to provide all of our customers with a
good Internet experience and we use the latest technologies to manage
our network so that you can continue to enjoy these applications.
Peer-to-peer activity consumes a disproportionately large amount of
network resources, and therefore poses the biggest challenge to
maintaining a good broadband experience for all users, including the
overwhelming majority of our customers who don't use P2P applications.

It is important to note, however, that we never prevent P2P activity, or
block access to any P2P applications, but rather manage the network in
such a way that this activity does not degrade the broadband experience
for other users.

Mark, network management is absolutely essential to provide a good
Internet experience for our customers. All major ISPs manage their
traffic in some way and many use similar tools.

Comcast believes we have a responsibility to our customers to provide
this service. Network management helps us perform critical work that
protects our customers from things like spam, viruses, the negative
effects of network congestion, or attacks to their PCs. As threats on
the Internet continue to grow, our network management tools will
continue to evolve and keep pace so that we can maintain a good,
reliable online experience for all of our customers.

I understand you have some questions about Comcast's policies. You can
view all of the Comcast Subscriber Agreements and Policies by visiting
the Comcast Online Customer Support Center at http://www.comcast.net/terms/subscriber.jsp [comcast.net]

On this site you will find the Subscriber Agreement, the Acceptable Use
Policy, and other policies relating to your Comcast Service. You can
also view our Privacy Policy Statement at http://www.comcast.net/privacy/index.jsp [comcast.net]

Links to the Privacy Statement and Terms of Service are located at the
bottom of every page at www.comcast.

-- end bunch of shit --

Re:Straight from thier lawyers mouths (5, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540365)

It is important to note, however, that we never prevent P2P activity, or
block access to any P2P applications, but rather manage the network in
such a way that this activity does not degrade the broadband experience
for other users.


So, they are not even coming close to telling you the truth!

How exactly sending RST packets to peers doesn't fall under "prevent P2P activity" I don't understand.

Re:Straight from thier lawyers mouths (2, Insightful)

jnana (519059) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540647)

It looks to me like Comcast is trying to mislead people into believing that they're saying:

We don't interfere with P2P activity at all, so these accusations are completely baseless!

But if you read the words carefully, you can see that following bullshit interpretation is a possible (albeit not the most likely) interpretation:

We don't completely prevent P2P activity altogether such that you cannot ever download anything (completely) via P2P

Which is fully compatible with the observed behavior of their tampering with it enough to cause problems and greatly reduce transfer speeds and increase transfer times for whole files, but it still being possible to use P2P apps for what they're intended for (albeit with much more hassle).

Re:Straight from thier lawyers mouths (2, Insightful)

BillX (307153) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540749)

Simple, they just use disingenuous, lawyerly weasel words. They don't "block" the traffic outright (since some percentage of the packets are allowed through), they just interfere with it. It's like saying that to prevent people using my driveway to make u-turns, if I grease the road 100ft before and after it such that the cars trying to pull in just slide past, I've made it damn difficult to u-turn there but haven't technically "blocked" access to the driveway...

Deliberately Misleading and Suicidal (0, Troll)

Erris (531066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21541033)

they are not even coming close to telling you the truth!

The truth is more like, "the entertainment industry, AOL, M$ and other have all threatened retaliation if we do not do as they say and eliminate this growing alternate content distribution system." They would rather you conclusde that blocking P2P with rst packets will somehow make things faster for you and other customers. They also hope you don't know about upload speed caps they already have in place that are already supposed to eliminate bandwith hogging. Money wasted on these measures could have solved bandwith problems directly by building better networks. In a few years time, the networks and the equipment bought to cripple it will be hoplessly obsolete and the US will have fallen out of the top 20 nations in networking access and speed.

Re:Straight from thier lawyers mouths (4, Funny)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540379)

-- begin bunch of shit ---
bunch of shit, Mark.
Mark, bunch of shit.
bunch of shit.
Mark, bunch of shit.
bunch of shit. bunch of shit.
-- end bunch of shit ---


But you've got admit, it's pretty cool how they address you by name throughout this carefully composed, personal email response made Just For You.

Re:Straight from thier lawyers mouths (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540915)

But you've got admit, it's pretty cool how they address you by name throughout this carefully composed, personal email response made Just For You.

Yes, it's impressive how Comcast has turned the art of lying to one's customers into a fully automated process.

Re:Straight from thier lawyers mouths (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540605)

" including the overwhelming majority of our customers who don't use P2P applications"

How the fuck do they figure that? anyone who has spent 15 minutes on the internet knows that isn't true.

Re:Straight from thier lawyers mouths (2, Interesting)

AySz88 (1151141) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540683)

It is important to note, however, that we never prevent P2P activity, or block access to any P2P applications, but rather manage the network in such a way that this activity does not degrade the broadband experience for other users.
Their technical excuse (see this George Ou blog post [zdnet.com] .) is that this is true - with current modems, cable cannot handle the number of simultaneous transmits required by, for example, torrent uploads. Like Ethernet on a shared wire, they say, cable modems send out requests to transmit on a bus, which can collide repeatedly and require lots of retransmission attempts, which apparently causes runaway queuing problems.

Personally, I don't really care whether the excuse true or not - I don't have empathy for "but my network can't handle it!". If someone buys Internet access and it is being used in good faith in accordance with spec, but the network breaks, the company should have to fix their network; the customer shouldn't need to adjust their usage. To me, it just so happens that the affected application is P2P.

I'm a little fuzzy on this, but I think they'd have to upgrade modems soon anyway to continue competing with FiOS? (Something about DOCSIS 3?) Also, I am still curious - can someone with knowledge of current cable protocols verify that the excuse is plausible?

Re:Straight from thier lawyers mouths (1)

AySz88 (1151141) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540735)

Oops; I forgot to mention that their technical excuse includes 'we block stuff that isn't P2P, too, if they do lots of transmits', so they aren't really trying to block P2P, it's just a frequent victim. (I hope my first paragraph makes more sense now.)

Re:Straight from thier lawyers mouths (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540867)

They are going to have to upgrade anyways just to compete with traditional DSL. I'm getting 8 megs at a site I admin and we saw spikes of 10 meg. The service rating is for 8 megs though. This is on standard copper through ATT/SBC business service.

That site used quite a bit of bandwidth in VOIP and VPN traffic too. Never once has an issue with it.

But, I guess a question might be, if their excuse is true, then why isn't time warner having the same issues and doing some of the same things. I havn't heard of time warner being accused of this and I think they might actually have more customers?

Re:Straight from thier lawyers mouths (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540877)

"It is important to note, however, that we never prevent P2P activity, or block access to any P2P applications, but rather manage the network in such a way that this activity does not degrade the broadband experience for other users."

The weasely bastards....

Notice the:

"but rather manage the network in such a way that this activity does not degrade the broadband experience for other users."

IOW, they are degrading YOUR (P2P) experience, but not the other, obedient (l)users.

Re:Straight from thier lawyers mouths (1)

sh3l1 (981741) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540701)

Network management helps us perform critical work that protects our customers from things like spam, viruses, the negative effects of network congestion, or attacks to their PCs.
um... what?

Re:Straight from thier lawyers mouths (2, Interesting)

vixen337 (986423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540731)

The funny thing is, I got this exact same response in reply to a question about them blocking an UPLOAD from me. Then I replied to say that wasn't really my question, could I get their form letter for uploads and I got a form letter back that said I was asking about a feature that wasn't supported. Huh?

It's obvious their tech support is not read. I called and I also got a load of bull about downloads that sounded scripted. I understand about downloads, but how is that stopping my uploads?

I'm switching providers to someone who actually listens to a question before they give you an answer.

I'm not sure I understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21540929)

Isn't all internet traffic p2p, for some values of "p"? Isn't that the whole point of IP?

Practices like these make me not want to give them (0)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540357)

business. I've been weaning myself OFF of the at-home "Internets" "experience". Not missing it much either, except when I need to upgrade PCLinux or Mandriva from DVD and then can't resolve dependencies because the DVD's don't have some (for example, VirtualBox dependencies.... frm one of the magazines...) Well, now I've come to live without Internets at home for months now and it's nice to kick 50% of that addiction...

But, tho this is unrelated to torrents (which I don't use), it might make comblast wake up and be nicer. Offer a rate plan, ask torrent users to wait till off-peak hours, something... anything reasonable...

Re:Practices like these make me not want to give t (4, Insightful)

merreborn (853723) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540625)

I'm not sure comcast is *that* sad to see you go. Their entire business model is based on overselling their bandwidth. Their favorite customers are those that pay $50/mo for internet access, and then only check their email.

People like you and I, who actually use most of the bandwidth advertised, make Comcast little, if any profit. If all the heavy bittorrent users followed your example, comcast may well be able to cut their costs enough (with all the bandwidth savings, etc.) that they could stay just as profitable, if not more so.

Think about it. They're already *cutting off* subscriptions of the heaviest users -- they're obviously not concerned about losing that business.

Good for them (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21540393)

Good for Comcast. I hope more places continue to block BitTorrent. There's no legitimate use for it anyway. It should be banned.

Any legitimate distributor of content can pay to distribute it with trying to hide the real cost from their consumer. Any other use of BitTorrent is by definition illegitimate.

And in any case, users of residential internet connections shouldn't be surprised they don't get all the business features. Want a full internet connection? Pay for it.

Re:Good for them (1)

Omnedon (701049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540503)

So you're saying that only people that can afford high outgoing bandwidth should be considered as "legitimate" content distributors?

Re:Good for them (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540531)

You've obviously never heard of Vuze [vuze.com] (which features commercial distribution), Linux [linuxtracker.org] , or OpenOffice [openoffice.org] torrents

Re:Good for them (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21540591)

I've heard of them. In all cases if they were legitimate, they'd foot the bandwidth bill instead of demanding that their customers do.

You can get hosting for like $8/month. There's no reason to use BitTorrent, unless you're doing something illegal.

And in any case, it still doesn't make it OK to use a server application on a residential plan. Either pay for it or stop complaining.

Re:Good for them (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540717)

A server can only push out so many bits to so many people at a time. Assuming that you are capable of downloading faster than the server can upload to you, you are wasting your excess bandwidth.

it still doesn't make it OK to use a server application on a residential plan
You should be able to use your bandwidth for whatever you want. If you want to act as a server streaming at 20KB/s, there is no reason you shouldn't be able too. Paying for commercial hosting is for if you want your uptime to be guaranteed, you don't want to maintain the box, and you want to have better upload bandwidth.

they'd foot the bandwidth bill instead of demanding that their customers do
Most FOSS sites that offer torrents do have HTTP and FTP transfers. I had to actively search for Ubuntu's torrents. Also, if your bittorrent download gets corrupted in transit, you don't have to download it all over again. Just the offending chunks.

It's not blocking per se...it's worse! (2, Insightful)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540409)

It's far more sinister. They are spoofing packets by impersonating a p2p node. They are illegally interfering with their customers' service and don't have the guts to do it outright themselves.

Re:It's not blocking per se...it's worse! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21540425)

illegally? What law is being broken?


Shit, firewalls send resets all the fucking time. So to IPSes. Routers will do it too. That's illegal?


It's funny, I'm a comcast subscriber and I've got some torrents coming down, seems like it's working as well as it ever does.

Re:It's not blocking per se...it's worse! (4, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540559)

They are illegally interfering with their customers' service

Since you've been modded up to "5, insightful"- would you care to tell us what is illegal about it? Extra credit for references to specific federal or state laws or regulations.

And, more specifically, if it is illegal, why this is (supposedly) pushing Congress towards net neutrality laws?

Re:It's not blocking per se...it's worse! (1)

Kamots (321174) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540597)

My speculation would be that he's refering to something in the anti-spam laws that make it illegal to forge who an electronic communication (in this case the RST packet) is from. Impersonation of a third party for arguably malicious purposes... mmm... sounds like something that could well be illegal to me.

Like you however I am interested in hearing what statutes would apply... I'm just more convinced that those statutes are out there.

Re:It's not blocking per se...it's worse! (4, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21541077)

While it is popular to claim something is illegal when the statement should be more like It should be illegal, I would be more along the belief that something like fraud or something along those lines.

I looked but couldn't find the a law on a federal level but saw a few state laws in passing that include using the Internet to commit fraud and causing the interruption of Internet services in that act. Now suppose that their interference can be considered defrauding you of services they sold you and suppose that interfering with the data streams was the method for doing this, even though it is on their network, I imagine something could be twisted enough to apply.

I look at it this way, Suppose you purchased a printer that printed 20 pages per minute. Says so right on the box and on the printer itself. Now, when you get home, you find that you have to buy the turbo module at a cost more then the printer in order to get that advertised performance. And when you complain, they tell you that it is done this way to protect their supply network. What sort of laws apply? Suppose that you have to feed the paper manually one sheet at a time and push a button after it is started without the turbo module which could be similar to having to monitor and restart your torrent or whatever.

Now, what sort of laws would apply, would they be criminal or civil in nature, and seeing how comcast is a regulated entity, is there a state oversight organization that fields complaints already. In ohio, the public utilities commission has some oversight of time warner I think. I have used them in the past to help get complaints again Cell phone providers taken care of. I think it probably is illegal in some way under some laws. I just don't know the specific ones or if I am correct in that assumption. But the oversight necessary might already be there.

Comcast sells the Internet, not some Internet like service. Their willful failure to deliver reliably might not sit well with local regulators either. At minimum, they should be forced to be honest and up front about their tampering with P2P applications before you purchase their service. and where there are no other options because of Comcasts government granted monopoly, there should be a way around it.

Re:It's not blocking per se...it's worse! (2, Insightful)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540609)

blockquote> i>And, more specifically, if it is illegal, why this is supposedly pushing Congress towards net neutrality laws? /i> /blockquote> For an overview check the wiki [wikipedia.org]

Currently it is only violating net neutrality principles and is only a tort violation. So legality tends to depend on the judge. I come down on the side that is not QoS and patently violates net neutrality. So to me it is illegal and if I were a judge I would strike their actions. The reason it is pushing Congress is enough decent Congressmen like my beloved Rick Boucher (proud constituent of the 9th VA District) have decided to make this sort of thing statutory and not up to any fickle judge.

Re:It's not blocking per se...it's worse! (2, Informative)

terrymr (316118) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540733)

I believe they are stretching definitions to the limit if not beyond :

"The duty to carry does not mean that a carrier is never justified in refusing to provide service. It is well established that "if goods are not of the character that the carrier transports he may refuse carriage." Gorton, Supra at 109. Yet, the reasons for refusal are very limited and related to potential damage to other's goods, or to unreasonably high risks for the carrier in its capacity as insurer, or are beyong the reasonable capacity restraints of the carrier." http://www.cybertelecom.org/notes/common_carrier.htm [cybertelecom.org]

Re:It's not blocking per se...it's worse! (1, Flamebait)

UncleFluffy (164860) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540751)

would you care to tell us what is illegal about it?

I don't know about the OP, but my argument would be that they're advertising an "Internet" connection, but violating RFCs left right and centre. If I purchase Internet service I expect it to behave as advertised - i.e. comply with the protocols which define how the Internet behaves. Anything else seems like fraud to me.

NY Sec. 190.25 (2, Informative)

Joe U (443617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21541157)

NY Sec. 190.25

S 190.25 Criminal impersonation in the second degree.
    A person is guilty of criminal impersonation in the second degree when
he:
    1. Impersonates another and does an act in such assumed character with
intent to obtain a benefit or to injure or defraud another;
Not a real stretch. If they just enforced QoS, then it wouldn't be an issue, the issue is pretending to be the end user's system.

Re:It's not blocking per se...it's worse! (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540821)

I was gonna post about how hard could it possibly be to detect that the reset packets are coming from a different source than the rest of the data and block it but what you said makes me wonder. So they're impersonating someone else's IP to mask where the packets are really coming from? Isn't that not just bad and nasty but completely illegal?

Re:It's not blocking per se...it's worse! (1)

SoapBox17 (1020345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21541073)

RFCs are only recommendations (that even may be too strong a word). They are constantly violated left and right. In this case, they aren't even violating any RFCs so I don't actually know what you're talking about. All they are doing is sending you an extra packet with the same headers as other packets you received from some source, only this packet they send has no payload and has the "RST" flag sent. This is perfectly within the letter of the protocol, and causes a well behaved client to terminate the connection immediately. It is kind of sad to see people just to "omg it's illegal" just because they sent you a packet. It is only slightly less trivial to actively block traffic for a short amount of time instead of sending a RST which will eventually cause both sides to terminate the connection anyways. There is nothing illegal about that, so when they start doing it what are you going to say then? It is best you start looking for an argument now, rather than latching on to the first weak on that comes along.

Should be shot (5, Insightful)

norton_I (64015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540411)

People who inject fake RSTs into network streams should be shot.

This will lead to non-compliant network stacks which attempt to detect "bogus" RSTs and ignore them. And that cannot be allowed to happen at any cost.

It is fine for them to drop packets. It is a dick move, of course, when they sold people the bandwidth and don't let them use it, but TCP/IP is designed to deal with packet loss, and treat it as congestion. Fragrantly violating the network standards that allow communication between different networks to interoperate is literally trying to destroy the internet, and cannot be tolerated.

Re:Should be shot (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540441)

I think that if they're injecting packets into their customers' data streams, we should be injecting packets into theirs, right?

Quality of service is important, so just to ensure that their service is up and running, we should ping -f -s 10000 it, don't you think?

***

In essence, Comcast is executing a denial of service attack on their customers' traffic with a third party. That traffic does not belong to them; they merely carry it. Isn't this illegal under some sort of computer-sabotage law?

Re:Should be shot (1)

Velcroman98 (542642) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540785)

Aren't smaller (64) sized pings more annoying? I'd think sending more smaller packets would require more processor power to deal with them all.

Re:Should be shot (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21540581)

Fragrantly violating the network standards...

I think we might have had the same guy install our cable! Tell him I said 'hi', next time you see him.

Re:Should be shot (2, Interesting)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540713)


This will lead to non-compliant network stacks which attempt to detect "bogus" RSTs and ignore them. And that cannot be allowed to happen at any cost.

Why? Just ignore all RST packets for bittotent ports, and timeout any connections. Do it at the NAT level, and you don't have to modify the OS. It leads to some extra open connections, but big deal. Comcast can just plain old block the connections anyway, the only reason they're not is because it takes more router resources than they have.

Re:Should be shot (1)

smorken (990019) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540817)

Fragrantly violating the network standards that allow communication between different networks to interoperate is literally trying to destroy the internet, and cannot be tolerated.
So, not only are they sending reset packets, they are sending their customers stink bomb packets?

Silver lining? (2, Insightful)

Loki_1929 (550940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540427)

How is it a silver lining that Congress may reconsider Congressionally mandated Federal control over the internet in the United States?

If there's one thing Congress and the rest of the Federal government have proven time and time again it's that the only thing they're good at is spending money. Everything else they try to do (ie. all the stuff they spend the money on), they can't help but fuck it up. Never heard the phrase, "Good enough for government work"?

If you're in favor of Ted "Series-of-Tubes" Stevens and his band of merry men handing over control of the internet to the F "OMFG A DECISECOND FLASH OF BREAST!" CC, then I have to ask, why do you hate the internet?

Re:Silver lining? (2, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540509)

If there's one thing Congress and the rest of the Federal government have proven time and time again it's that the only thing they're good at is spending money. Everything else they try to do (ie. all the stuff they spend the money on), they can't help but fuck it up. Never heard the phrase, "Good enough for government work"?

I think the interstate system, the university system, the Park Service, the management of national forests, public libraries, and a lot of other things work pretty well, and don't mind spending tax money on them at all.

Re:Silver lining? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540643)

you think universities are working well do you? what about the fact you just about have to morgage your freaking house to pay for it and that after all that expense the quality of the graduates is poor?

Re:Silver lining? (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540747)

Average undergraduate tuition to a four-year public university is $4500/year (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_tuition#Recent_trends [wikipedia.org] ), and many students receive scholarships, grants, subsidized loans, etc.

The quality of graduates is only as poor as the quality of entrants; as a TA, I've seen some *serious* dumbshittery among some of the undergrads. Some of them are brilliant.

Re:Silver lining? (1)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21541131)

18 year old kids don't have houses, dipshit. And we can borrow money (with federal guarantees) to pay for college without one.

Re:Silver lining? (3, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540623)

How is it a silver lining that Congress may reconsider Congressionally mandated Federal control over the internet in the United States?
Because they've got a pretty good track record so far.
Net neutrality was the rule of the land until just recently.
It is not something new, it is a return to the way it was only a few years ago.
In 2005 the SCOTUS ruled [wikipedia.org] that broadband internet was an "information service," and not a "telecommunications service." Thus freeing broadband ISPs from the laws that have enforced "network neutrality" for telephone service for decades.

Re:Silver lining? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21541043)

The US has pitiful competition in Internet service. I'm surprised that antitrust laws have not come into effect yet. Actually, no, I'm not surprised, because individuals can't sue companies for antitrust violations.

tcpdump? (1)

Jonesy69 (904924) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540467)

would this filter:

tcpdump 'tcp[tcpflags] (tcp-sys|tcp-rst) & !=0 and not src and not dst net 192.168.1.1'
work in detecting resets to syns? my head is a lil foggy right now, and its friday night, and I'm on slashdot.

Define Net Neutrality (2, Insightful)

mdmkolbe (944892) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540469)

Define "net neutrality". I don't want high-level goal oriented stuff. I want to know exactly what such a law would look like because frankly I'm skeptical that any net-neutrality law wouldn't just be full of vagueness, unintended consequences or be so limited as to be useless.

Just saying "make the networks fair" doesn't make a good law, but that is all I've heard from the NN people. I want to be behind NN, but I can't as long as it is so ambiguous.

Re:Define Net Neutrality (3, Interesting)

Entropius (188861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540715)

Well, one way to do it:

1. No ISP shall give preferential handling to, modify, fail to deliver, or alter the content of traffic based on either its source, the protocol over which it is carried, or its content.

Exception: If a quality-of-service mechanism becomes widely used over the Internet, such as setting a time-critical flag on certain traffic (online gaming, VoIP, etc.), ISP's may give preferential handling to traffic so flagged, as long as:

a) the mechanism for requesting a higher QoS for certain traffic is widely known and available, such that anyone can use it;

b) the preferential treatment given to time-critical content is given equally to all traffic claiming to need a higher QoS without regard for its source, the protocol over which it is carried, or its content;

Exception: Traffic which is clearly and unambiguously malicious may be dropped. "Malicious", in this case, means either:

a) It is intended to interfere with the correct operation and control of the recipient's equipment, if the recipient of the traffic is a customer of the ISP. This includes, but is not limited to, denial-of-service traffic and exploit attempts. However, an ISP must honor a request in writing by a customer to cease filtering inbound malicious traffic to them.

b) It is generated by a program running without the consent of, and against the wishes of, the owner of the sending computer, if the sender is a customer of the ISP.

c) Such traffic consists of unsolicited commercial email, and the customer has requested that the ISP filter inbound email to remove spam.

Re:Define Net Neutrality (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#21541021)

c) Such traffic consists of unsolicited commercial email, and the customer has requested that the ISP filter inbound email to remove spam.

Don't make it spam-specific. Make it possible for the consumers to opt-in to very specific and clearly defined filters -- that is, if it claims to filter spam, it will not also filter bittorrent. And make sure that's opt-in, not opt-out, so that unless people are specifically requesting some sort of filter or shaping, they don't get it.

But yes, it is pretty easy to define.

Re:Define Net Neutrality (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540725)

You haven't been paying attention then because it's very easy to define.

Isp's shall not impede or intercept network traffic in their network without a court order unless said traffic's destination is their own network or networked equipment.

This means they still control their own network within the bounds of existing privacy law, it means there's no loopholes for spammers or DoS attacks since their destination is the isp's network. it means comcast, at&t and buddies can't prevent me from reaching google etc at full speed since the destination is MY pc, not their network routers/servers etc

Net Neutrality Definition (1)

maop (309499) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540911)

Higher level protocols don't poke their nose into lower level protocols.

The real ambiguity... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#21541067)

The biggest problem you may have here is that there are two competing definitions -- the real one, and the ones the ISPs made up.

The real one goes: ISPs shall be neutral with respect to network traffic. This is really, really, ridiculously, ludicrously simple: you put a router between your customer and the Internet. You do not put any firewall or packet shaping rules there.

There's a lot of ways to be more specific and less possible to poke legal holes in it. But that's the part of it that's as simple as, for instance, "Don't steal other people's shit." There's all kinds of ways to steal other people's shit, and there are separate laws for most of them, but the definition of stealing really is pretty simple, most of the time -- taking something from someone else without their consent.

Now, the other definition is just the opposite: The ISPs, of course, don't like net neutrality legislation -- they would rather have the governments not regulate them. So they twist it into how net neutrality is supposed to be about the government remaining neutral about the ISPs (net providers). And so you get morons like this [slashdot.org] , except most of them think they're FOR net neutrality.

Hope that clears some things up.

Re:Define Net Neutrality (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21541149)

A simple law that said it is illegal for a internet service provider or operator to discriminate or manipulate the traffic one the net in any ways that deny the customer the service level they paid for.

You would have to add that they cannot discriminate any peer traffic based on a payment other then a standard minimum generally in use for all peer providers.

Peering is the concept of routing your information over networks that don't belong to you or the recipient of your data in order for it to get to the intended recipient. It is the core that makes the internet, the internet.

So hopefully, with a simple law like that, you slowest point in any communications will only be the slowest connection anyone along the path has. If I have a 3 meg connection and you have a 6 meg, our transfer will only go at 3 meg (the technical allotment after considering the bandwidth split, upload speed and other uses I am doing) This should also stop ATT/SBC from slowing your Google pages to below the speed you have based on some payment system they have.

Net neutrality should mean getting what you paid for not some other representation based on a third party's ability to extract money or willingness to not expand or fix their network.

Archaic Cable shared node topology is to blame (5, Interesting)

toadlife (301863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540473)

Check out this article [zdnet.com] posted by George Ou at ZDNet a couple of weeks ago.

The reason Comcast is doing this is because the shared node topology of Cable can't handle all of the connection requests. Similar to a bunch of Windows 95 boxes running NETBUI on a large non-switched network, bittorrent causes a a ton of contention. The result are packet storms which end up taking everyone out.

Of course Comcast won't say, "The reason we do this is because our entire infrastructure is shit and needs to be replaced." The stockholders wouldn't like that.

Re:Archaic Cable shared node topology is to blame (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540753)

Then tell us what you're really doing and why you're doing it.

Let's grant that what they say is true, and that they need to do what they're doing. Then tell us. Stop the CRAP about "We don't block bittorrent," but instead say, "For these reasons, bitborrent will cripple our network, so we're taking these steps."

Extra points on guidelines on how to set up bittorrent to not cripple the network.

Re:Archaic Cable shared node topology is to blame (1)

bagboy (630125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540873)

>>because the shared node topology of Cable can't handle all of the connection requests.

Umm, sorry to maybe enlighten you and some others, but the public Internet - as a whole - is a shared node topology. If all connections on the big "I" tried to pull all of their available bandwidth, all at the same time, you would have "Severe" congestion and retransmits, very much like the shared-node of broadband cable. Fact is ISPs build on a shared-node concept for bandwidth oversubscription. You just can't put millions of broadband connections online who want their "fair-share" and not expect throughput issues.

Re:Archaic Cable shared node topology is to blame (1)

Wordplay (54438) | more than 6 years ago | (#21541159)

Yeah, but in this case I think the problem is that there's nothing keeping a broadcast packet coming from one system from going to all the other systems in the neighborhood, or wherever the share is. I remember when cable modems first came out, ARP storms were a big problem, and you'd also get fun stuff like seeing your neighbor's shared directories (which use/used netbeui broadcast protocols) because there was absolutely no partitioning or routing that kept you away from your neighbor's packets.

Re:Archaic Cable shared node topology is to blame (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540903)

Well, maybe their "STOCKholders" ought to be forced into being "SHOCKholders".... (thru an ISP anew...

would be nice if Google acted as an ISP and GAVE away the service for ads... Run comblasts ass right out of business.... Every comcast Customer gets a FREE Google service for 3 years; then $15/month after that...")

Re:Archaic Cable shared node topology is to blame (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 6 years ago | (#21541049)

would be nice if Google acted as an ISP and GAVE away the service for ads...
Altavista tried it in 2000 and failed... I doubt Google will do any better.

-uso.

Plausible deniability? (2, Interesting)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540495)

Comcast continues to deny [comcast.net] they are blocking or discriminating with traffic. (See "Hot Topics" in the middle of the page.)

See this nonsense [comcast.net] linked from that page:

Question: "Do you discriminate against particular types of online content?"

Answer: "No. There is no discrimination based on the type of content. Our customers enjoy unfettered access to all the content, services, and applications that the Internet has to offer. We respect our customers' privacy and we don't monitor specific customer activities on the Internet or track individual online behavior such as which Web sites they visit. Therefore, we do not know whether any individual user is visiting BitTorrent or any other site."

I guess that is called "plausible deniability". Comcast management apparently assigned that question to someone who is so ignorant that he thinks BitTorrent is only a web site, and clearly doesn't understand the issues. I suppose that later Comcast management can blame the denial on a confused lower level employee.

I was talking to a Comcast repair technician yesterday who came to replace a poor quality, non-functional cable modem. He was very uncaring. I suppose that is the Comcast culture. It must be miserable to work there.

You can't see it with Slashdot's HTML rendering, but whoever typed that reply for Comcast is back in the days of the typewriter. He or she used two spaces after every period. That made sense when all type was monospaced. I wonder if I visited Comcast headquarters, would I see horses tied outside?

Re:Plausible deniability? (1)

spikedvodka (188722) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540585)

Question: "Do you discriminate against particular types of online content?"

Answer: "No. There is no discrimination based on the type of content. Our customers enjoy unfettered access to all the content, services, and applications that the Internet has to offer. We respect our customers' privacy and we don't monitor specific customer activities on the Internet or track individual online behavior such as which Web sites they visit. Therefore, we do not know whether any individual user is visiting BitTorrent or any other site."
That is a very carefully crafted response. in their response they subtly defined BitTorrent as a "site". and they're saying the don't monitor what sites you visit. that may well be true, but they are skirting the issue. likewise, they are subtly trying to redefine "Online content" to mean "http[s+]://*" and they don't filter based on *Content*, so that's true

Re:Plausible deniability? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540649)

Set up a script downloading OS isos from a mirror site to /dev/null and see how long before they discriminate.

Re:Plausible deniability? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540635)

Umm, everyone's supposed to use two spaces after a period, and one after a comma. HTML being stupid with white space doesn't change that.

Re:Plausible deniability? (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540737)

It's a legacy of mono-spaced fonts (like on a typewriter). Single spaces after periods on a page of mono text make it hard to read. Variable-width fonts don't have that problem.

Of course, I was taught to double-space, so I still do out of habit.

Re:Plausible deniability? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540661)

I still use two spaces after all my sentences. I imagine anyone that started typing before the internet was all hip and cool does the same. When I was typing up documents in highschool using wordperfect, my teachers expected our documents to be formatted correctly, with 2 spaces after the periods, and proper paragraph and sentence structure. I can't believe that using 2 spaces after periods is seen as an antiquated practice.

Re:Plausible deniability? (1)

somepunk (720296) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540685)

Furthermore, a monospaced space is wider than a nonmonospaced space, so one would be more likely to use a single vs two with monospaced type. I generally go with what looks best, at least for informal use, for a given typeface. When using fixed-width, that is pretty much always one space.

You cannot do a search for 2 accidental spaces. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540699)

It's antiquated partly because we are supposed to let the font designers design the look of the font, and not mess with it.

The two spaces after a period method is antiquated also because it prevents you from doing an efficient search for accidental typing of two spaces between words.

First post! (4, Funny)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540497)

I wonder if Comcast can deliver this on time...

Re:First post! (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540573)

Mod parent funny.

Re:First post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21540673)

Mod parent overrated.

Re:First post! (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540745)

It's a karma bonus. People are more likely to read the parent post than if I post at the regular +1 level.

Encrypt your P2P traffic! (3, Informative)

Carbon016 (1129067) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540519)

This can be done in virtually all clients..for example, in uTorrent, set Encryption to "Forced" in your preferences. This isn't 100% foolproof but it seems to help a lot of Comcast users, among others with throttling and other P2P blocking measures forced on them from their ISP.

Re:Encrypt your P2P traffic! (1)

mdelcorso (70934) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540729)

Encryption will not solve the Comcast problem at all.

However, this solved the problem for me
add deny tcp from any to me tcpflags rst

Re:Encrypt your P2P traffic! (1)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540761)

this doesn't work in all cases. i don't have the name of the router but my isp uses one that monitors how many connections are made to a host on the network, if the number of connections starts to ramp up then their router takes action to slow down (shape) the traffic to a fucking crawl :( encrypted or not customers with cogeco in this part of the province get fucked.

Dear Comcast, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21540521)

I almost got internet access from you guys at my new apartment, but about the same time I was looking, I started seeing all these stories about how you like to prevent your customers from using the services they pay for. So I'm giving my money to Copowi [copowi.com] instead.

I hope you enjoy your BitTorrent-less network, while it lasts!

and this is news (0)

spikedvodka (188722) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540549)

News... typically something *NEW* - see section 1.b.

Main Entry:
        news Listen to the pronunciation of news
Pronunciation:
        \nüz, nyüz\
Function:
        noun plural but singular in construction
Usage:
        often attributive
Date:
        15th century

1 a: a report of recent events b: previously unknown information c: something having a specified influence or effect 2 a: material reported in a newspaper or news periodical or on a newscast b: matter that is newsworthy

and in other news... water is wet, the pope is catholic, and the earth is 1 au from the sun.... news at 11

Comcast Censoring YouTube also?? (5, Interesting)

pfbram (1070364) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540619)

I'm a fan of YouTube (who isn't), but hadn't logged into my account for awhile and forgot the password when I tried commenting on a video. I had a reminder sent to my comcast e-mail account a day or two ago -- and it's been about 36 hours, and it never arrived! Assuming something was hosed with my YouTube account, I decided to create a new account, still no activation e-mail sent.

I then changed my YouTube preferences to my GMail account, and the confirmation e-mail arrived within like 2 minutes. No surprise, since Google owns both GMail and YouTube. But my curiosity was now aroused, so I changed the e-mail preferences on YouTube to my work account (I'm an open source programmer at a Big-10 university). Again, the YouTube confirmation came within like 2 minutes or so.

I logged into comcast.net under my main subscriber e-mail account today -- and deactivated ALL spam/filtering on that account. I then went back to YouTube and switched preferences back to my comcast account. It's been about 4 hours and, of course, there's been no e-mail from YouTube.

Anyone else notice this oddness between YouTube / Comcast? It irked me enough to create a little web site of it this afternoon, and post it on my blog as well (http://paulbramscher.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] ).

Re:Comcast Censoring YouTube also?? (1)

nrgy (835451) | more than 6 years ago | (#21541109)

While I haven't heard about any YouTube email issues like yours I don't doubt it.

They way I've dealt with spam since it started becoming a major PITA was to have an email account that I use for all websites that require either registration or some other retarded request for an email address. I've always named this email address "bunkemail". So if you want to spam me please send an email to bunkemail 'at' comcast.net, yes that is a real email address I have with Comcast.

Back on topic... While I can't remember all the websites I've had trouble with, my bunkemail address has had plenty of email activations not show up. It's not only email activations though, private message notifications from webforums and other general email has time and time again has not showed up in my bunkemail inbox.

Its not only email though. Currently for the past 5 months my Comcast home page has been inaccessible outside of logging in via ftp. I remember during the summer I put a few pictures on my Comcast ftp for my sister to display on her MySpace webpage. Evidentaly they didn't like that and since then you cant access my Comcast homepage outside of logging into the ftp. Since I could really care less about my Comcast webpage I haven't bothered to ask them whats the problem.

The email that frequently doesn't show up in my bunkemail account isn't just random stuff either. I can do the steps you listed and sure enough emails arrive instantly, resetting the email address back to my Comcast account once again results in no email.

The Comcast turtle commercials are funny as hell, there service on the other hand isn't. Its pathetic and something needs to be done about it.

IPsec and other stuff (4, Informative)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540653)

Use IPsec. Not only can they not tell what your packets mean (only where they are going and came from), but they cannot forge an RST since that also needs to be encrypted with the association key.

So they could do a man-in-the-middle attack on a simplistic key exchange done over IPsec. But that would require far more resources (they have to get in the middle of each connection) than they appear to be willing to use (RST forgery is about the cheapest form of net interference there is). So I think even minimal IPsec would bring this blocking to and end until such time as they want to invest in whatever it takes to mount an attack on IPsec. Then we just use a strong key infrastructure and end that.

If the protocol involved understood the work to be done (e.g. how many bytes to be transferred), it could also re-establish a new connection if the existing one got dropped, and resume the transfer ... until done or one end decides to not do this anymore.

Don't you people realize? (1)

llamalad (12917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540655)

Those of you who haven't worked on the business side of an ISP may not realize this, but customers who actually use the service are [i]the enemy[/i].

Of course they're going to throttle p2p for as long as they can get away with it. It uses bandwidth!

Users using bandwidth costs them money. Much better to just have people pay without actually being able to use the service they're paying for.

Re:Don't you people realize? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540871)

Much better to just have people pay without actually being able to use the service they're paying for.

What they want are people who like broadband because it's always on, no dialing out, people that couldn't care about gigabytes or torrents or anything else but their browser, IM and email. That's actually the bulk of users: most people I know have probably never downloaded anything larger than an occasional Windows Update. Comcast though, rather than treating the heavy user as a legitimate cost of doing business and providing the service as advertised, is attempting to rope and hogtie that user instead.

Problem is, people don't like that kind of treatment, especially when they feel they are only using that for which they have already paid. Comcast obviously differs in their opinion as to what they are actually selling. Still, when that many millions of people disagree, I'd say it definitely indicates a failure to communicate. Comcast is dissembling, both in their marketing activities and their continued flat denial of documented RST packet forgery.

The only alternative to Comcast where I live is 1.5 mbit/sec DSL, although 3 mbit/sec is supposed to be coming soon, and from multiple providers. I'll get to pick among providers and service plans. When that happens: goodbye Comcast. I need you about as much as I need a major music studio.

There is already a law to apply here.... (1)

budword (680846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540657)

There is already a law to apply here....take away their common carrier status. As soon as they discriminate among content, they SHOULD lose their common carrier status, and can be sued out of business the first time they DON'T block hate speech or kiddy porn. THERE is a law that applies. It never gets applied because they pay politicians.

Re:There is already a law to apply here.... (0)

notbob (73229) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540901)

why should anyone ban hate speech?

i'm sorry but maybe i missed the whole freedom of speech thing but last i checked it's sole purpose was to allow everyone to say ANYTHING regardless of content.

"While I may not agree with what you have to say, I'll defend your right to say it"

Re:There is already a law to apply here.... (2, Informative)

Secrity (742221) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540975)

ISPs and cable TV providers in the US are not common carriers, Comcast doesn't have common carrier status. If ISPs were common carriers there would be no net neutrality issues.

how is this different than other big ISP's? (3, Informative)

NynexNinja (379583) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540765)

All one has to do is look at the main competitor to Comcast, which is Verizon, and look at how they do the same type of stuff. They block outbound SMTP traffic except to their smtp servers...

iptables should be able to help (3, Interesting)

Yossarian45793 (617611) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540781)

Can't you just write a iptables rule to drop RST packets destined for your bittorrent port? You could even get clever about it and drop RST packets that come out of the blue, but allow repeated RST packets to pass, so that connections that have really be reset on the far end can be closed.

Common carrier (1)

BillX (307153) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540799)

So, if they start injecting RSTs into the stream, they obviously are monitoring the contents of the stream, know that it's p2p traffic, and are rewriting the contents on the fly (you could say "moderating" the packets). Does this affect their common-carrier status if they just interfere/slow down a transmission that happens to contain illegal material but permit it to (slowly) happen?

Is it really hacking? (1)

Dretep (903366) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540827)

Our organization has an appliance by Packeteer which does traffic shaping and manages bandwidth to ensure that a group of 'clients' do not clog our internet access for everyone else. Isn't this basically what Comcast is doing? I don't use them but I'd be pretty pissed if the college students that live in my area brought my internet access to a crawl due to all their P2P activities. I'd want some bandwidth for my P2P activities too!

Re:Is it really hacking? (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540855)

Have said college students paid for their connection? If so, it is Comcast's fault for overselling in your area.

And they're not alone! (1)

Drakkoon (857582) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540919)

For the past two weeks over here in Canada, Sympatico started doing the same thing during "rush hours" to make sure every client has the best internet experience they can have. But this company is the one that sells its DSL internet by saying how your line is not affected by the downloads of your neighbors.

Those who believe in net neutrality unite... (1)

SiriusStarr (1196697) | more than 6 years ago | (#21540951)

...and join me in my boycott of Comcast. Blocking a completely legitimate, beneficial technology just because some may use it for illegal purposes is ridiculous; what are they going to do next, ban computers because they can be used for illegal purposes? Bittorrent is used to distribute perfectly legitimate materials, such as Linux distros and streaming video, and it is utterly abhorrent. Comcast is virtually unopposed as a provider of broadband internet in many areas, and as such, they are feeling full enough of themselves to start taking away services, likely to ease growing pressure from the RIAA, etc. Please protest/boycott their decision, or do what I do and use an EV-DO card. :-)

I'm not terribly worried about this. (2, Interesting)

Lunarsight (1053230) | more than 6 years ago | (#21541125)

I think capitalism will be Comcast's undoing, assuming that consumers start to get annoyed with the diminished results, and begin to express their discontent.

Other DSL providers will naturally begin try and use the fact they don't interfere with the internet as a selling point. Assuming this happens, the only places that may be affected are any in which Comcast has a monopoly by being the only source for DSL.

My only fear is other DSL providers will see that Comcast is getting away with tactics like this, and try to pull the same stunt. For that reason, I honestly hope Comcast gets sued bigtime over this. Comcast needs to be made an example out of.

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