Archive for April, 2010

Comcast and Bittorrent

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Dear Diane Rehm,

I was just listening to Thursday’s show regarding Comcast and Bittorrent.  Unfortunately I was listening to the pod-cast after the fact, as I would have really liked to have called in.  I believe the discussion missed a very crucial element of the issue:

Comcast was not simply throttling Bittorrent traffic.  They were forging fake data packets that appeared to come from machines on the Internet they did not originate from.

Consider a conversation via typed letters between myself and a friend, delivered by the USPS.  Now say the USPS is uncomfortable with the volume of letters my friend and I are exchanging, and decides to slow down delivery of some or all of these letters.  This would be throttling, and could prompt a reasonable “letter neutrality” debate.  Now instead the USPS decided to insert their own fake letters into the system, with my return address sent to my friend that said simply “stop sending me letters”.  (and vise-versa)  This would indeed be an efficient tactic to disrupt the conversation and reduce letter volume, but it would be quite clearly illegal.  (mail fraud)  This was the behavior of Comcast the FCC (and many others, myself included) so strongly objected to.

This was further compounded by Comcast’s initial and long-running denial of this behavior.  Which to me suggests they clearly knew the immorality (and likely illegality) of sending forged data packets.

This behavior by the way was confirmed by Google, the EFF, and I believe the FCC’s own study.

Multiple sources exist for this information.  Wikipedia contains a good writeup and many references:

Thank you,
Derek Anderson

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