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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Comcast Denies Virtual Crank Calls on BitTorrent

Posted By on Wed, Oct 24, 2007 at 8:41 PM

click to enlarge comcast_wheel.jpg

In what's being reported as the most heavy-handed example of "data discrimination" ever by a U.S. internet provider, Comcast Corp., upon whose broadband service I -- and probably many of you -- currently surf, is accused of seriously jacking with some people's shit. From the AP:

"Comcast Corp. actively interferes with attempts by some of its high-speed internet subscribers to share files online."

Specifically they're targeting the San Francisco-based BitTorrent network, in what sounds like some kind of high-tech crank calling plot. Company computers are allegedly "masquerading" as users and sending messages telling the other computer to stop communicating. The AP article likens the practice to a telephone operator breaking into a call and posing as one of the talkers. Surprisingly it doesn't seem to have anything to do with copyright enforcement, but is just the another tool in the art of managing the data flow, or "traffic shaping."

While this probably isn't illegal, it's a definite slap in the face to the widely abided code of Net Neutrality, that is, treating all manner of internet traffic equally. For its part, Comcast denies blocking "access to any applications, including BitTorrent," yet also seems to carve out some wiggle room for itself by admitting to using "sophisticated methods" to keep its connections smooth.

-- Brian Bernbaum

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