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Net Neutrality Wont Prevent BitTorrent Blocking

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  • Net Neutrality Wont Prevent BitTorrent Blocking

    Ignited by the Comcast fiasco in the US, the concept of Net Neutrality has been brought into the mainstream resulting in planned government interventions. However, unlike the name suggests, Net Neutrality might not stop BitTorrent blocking and could leave us worse off than when this all started.


    Although Comcast has been at the center of the BitTorrent blocking and Net Neutrality debate, they are certainly not the only Internet provider targeting the popular file-sharing protocol.

    All around the world, hundreds of larger and smaller ISPs are actively interfering with BitTorrent traffic, allegedly to keep their networks in good shape. Thus far, only Comcast has been punished for doing so.

    In 2008 the FCC looked into Comcast’s BitTorrent blocking and concluded that the company’s network management practices were unfair because they specifically targeted BitTorrent, not any other protocols.

    The FCC ordered Comcast to stop blocking BitTorrent transfers, and last year the communications commission decided to take up the task of ensuring that the Internet remains neutral. At least, that was the initial plan, the reality is less hopeful.

    Although it was Comcast’s anti-BitTorrent measures that sparked the current Net Neutrality debate, the FCC’s current proposals are not going to stop ISPs from slowing down or even blocking BitTorrent traffic. In fact, if these rules are implemented, BitTorrent users will be worse off than three years ago.

    In the 107 page proposal detailing the Net Neutrality regulation, the FCC says that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally, but it allows ISPs to slow down or block traffic if it’s considered to be “reasonable network management”.

    So the key issue is, what are reasonable network management practices and how may these affect BitTorrent traffic? Let’s take a look at what the FCC has to say about this.

    Reasonable network management consists of reasonable practices employed by a provider of broadband Internet access service to [...] (i) reduce or mitigate the effects of congestion on its network or to address quality-of-service concerns; [...] (iii) prevent the transfer of unlawful content; or (iv) prevent the unlawful transfer of content.

    In short, this means that ISPs have plenty of options to target BitTorrent traffic and keep the Net Neutral at the same time. Let’s take a closer look.

    As the EFF has also pointed out, the latter two conditions (iii and iv) would make it perfectly reasonable to block BitTorrent traffic for the purpose of preventing piracy. The terminology is rather vague, but we expect that when the MPAA or RIAA produce a report stating that 95% of all BitTorrent traffic involves copyright violations, blocking BitTorrent may become perfectly reasonable.

    And that’s just one of the many loopholes. There are also plenty of options for ISPs to target BitTorrent traffic without going for the piracy/copyright angle. In fact, congestion issues and quality-of-service concerns are even more viable and can be implemented to target BitTorrent traffic specifically, but indirectly.

    Under the proposed plans, ISPs could simply manage their networks by slowing down connections that use “too many” TCP connections, one of the key characteristics of BitTorrent traffic. There are plenty of arbitrary rules that may look reasonable and neutral, but will specifically (not exclusively) hinder BitTorrent transfers to ease the strain on the network.

    In fact, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) which develops and promotes Internet standards is working on a proposal that might kill BitTorrent traffic if implemented. The proposed protocol will mark all packets which are expected to cause congestion as “negative packets,” which is likely to apply to and slow down most peer-to-peer traffic.

    One way or another, the FCC’s Net Neutrality plan is no guarantee that BitTorrent will be able to download at full speeds. On the contrary, the plans might actually encourage ISPs to use Deep Packet Inspection technologies to check if the traffic of its subscribers is lawful, if it’s the last resort to slow down BitTorrent. We don’t want that to happen do we?
    This text is a quote from here

    They are really after us...

  • #2
    One way or another, the FCC’s Net Neutrality plan is no guarantee that BitTorrent will be able to download at full speeds. On the contrary, the plans might actually encourage ISPs to use Deep Packet Inspection technologies to check if the traffic of its subscribers is lawful, if it’s the last resort to slow down BitTorrent. We don’t want that to happen do we?
    Blatant invasion to privacy right there and that's the worst thing to meet up your customers with.

    Anyways, use forced encryption and you'll be golden for quite a bit. You can get around the TCP connections by minimizing the amount of active torrents and limiting the maximum connections; sure it'll slow down stuff but not by all that much. BitTorrent isn't ever going to go down all that easily.

    Yet another problem easily solved by seedboxes.

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    • #3
      As kirby said, if worse came to worse we could still use a seedbox. That said not allowing bittorrent is a slippery slop. First bittorrent what next?
      Last edited by kekkek; January 31, 2010, 02:08 AM.

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      • #4
        You said buttorrent :laugh:

        I'm not too worried.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by konVILEuted View Post
          You said buttorrent :laugh:

          I'm not too worried.
          I fixed it now .......... atleast if i ever decided to switch teams i know what to name my torrent site if i ever make one.

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          • #6
            This is an interesting article - but to be honest, I'm not losing any sleep over it. There are always ways around it. Plus, if some ISPs start to limit your torrent downloading, others will vigorously make sure that they're service stays unhindered in order to use it as a selling point to get more subscribers.

            EVERYONE uses torrents. I don't think it's actually a wise move from a business standpoint to alienate such a large group of people and force them to switch ISPs. They would lose more money from the lost customers than they do now.
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            • #7
              i agree with jschro, its not in the isps interest to prevent piracy and llegal file sharing since its none of there concern, unless they will benefit financially or are left no choice because of government regulations, then yeah, but i guess if you use a seedbox located in countrys where piracy is not illegal then we should be okay as long as we use ssl

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              • #8
                Originally posted by PIKMIKY View Post
                i agree with jschro, its not in the isps interest to prevent piracy and llegal file sharing since its none of there concern, unless they will benefit financially or are left no choice because of government regulations, then yeah, but i guess if you use a seedbox located in countrys where piracy is not illegal then we should be okay as long as we use ssl
                So true, to limit a customer when there is potential financial loss and no direct reason to do so seems like a flawed business plan. I cant see many of the main ISP providers doing this, mainly because as much as they hate all the usage that goes along with torrents, I'm pretty sure they hate the prospect of losing business to another company even more.

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