Scanlyze

The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

Comcast versus the Net

The following is written in response to: Comcast: We’re Delaying, Not Blocking, BitTorrent Traffic on the Bits blog at nytimes.com.

The allegation made against Comcast by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and reported by the Associated Press is that Comcast have allegedly been inserting forged reset (RST) packets into the datastream. This is not analogous to delaying a call. It is more analogous to the company disconnecting a call in mid-sentence because they have been listening in and classifying the type of conversation and don’t like what is being discussed or think it is likely a waste of time.

This is unethical if it is being done and also goes against the Internet technical documents, the RFC’s. Further there are several potential legal issues including potential violations of the:

* Electronic Communications Privacy Act 18 USC § 2510.

* General Prohibition Against Traces and Traps 18 USC § 3121.

* The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030.

* The Cable TV Privacy Act of 1984, 47 U.S.C. § 551.

* State statutes such as Michigan statue Fraudulent Access to Computers, Computer Systems, and Computer Networks, MCL 795.791.

Whatever Comcast routing and Quality of Service provisions are in effect should be fully spelled out and transparent to regulators, internet technical experts and the general public so that citizens can make an informed choice about whether they want their internet unsurveilled, uncensored and uninterrupted… or whether they want Internet which is “Comcastic”.

See Comcastic?!? Not So Much…
Comcast and BitTorrent; a Complicated Relationship
Technorati posts tagged comcast bittorrent

See also An Open Letter to Rich Sheridan regarding the proposed insertion of spam by the Wireless Washtenaw Project
Seven Questions on ‘Net Neutrality’ for Ann Arbor City Councilman Ron Suarez

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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23 October, 2007 Posted by | 18 U.S.C. § 1030, 18 USC § 2510, 18 USC § 3121, 47 U.S.C. § 551, allegations, Bits, BitTorrent, cable TV, Comcast, Comcastic, common carrier, computer networks, Computer Systems, EFF, Electronic Communications Privacy Act, Electronic Frontier Foundation, forged, fraudulent access, General Prohibition Against Traces and Traps, internet, law, MCL 795.791, media, Net, net neutrality, network, New York Times, packet, policy, politics, privacy, regulation, reset, RFC, RST, scanlyze, surveillance, TCP/IP, The Cable TV Privacy Act of 1984, The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act | 1 Comment

An Open Letter to Rich Sheridan regarding the proposed insertion of spam by the Wireless Washtenaw Project

The following was written in response to the pricing plan for Wireless Washtenaw.

Rich Sheridan has served on the steering committee of the Wireless Washtenaw Project for some time. Rich is someone for whom I have done work in the past and I am surprised by his poor judgment and lack of knowledge of the issues in this particular instance.

An Open Letter to Rich Sheridan regarding the proposed insertion of spam by the Wireless Washtenaw Project:

Rich,

Thanks for the interesting conversation today regarding Wireless Washtenaw. You told me, “The Internet was built by business”. When I disagreed and asked you if you had ever heard of Prof. Jon Postel, you finally (after asking the third time) admitted you had not heard of him. Here’s a link to the wikipedia article on Prof. Jon Postel.

Here’s Jon Postel’s tribute page from the Information Sciences Institute at USC.

When Jon died, he received the some of the most moving tributes from around the world that I have seen for any person, recent or historical. Many of the founders of the Internet are among the eulogists recorded at the Internet Society pages about Jon.

The Internet did not come about through the profit motive. Not at all. The Net is possibly the single most complex and valuable piece of engineering ever accomplished by humans, and it came about through the efforts of selfless individuals working for the betterment of all mankind. People like JCR Licklider, Bob Kahn, Larry Roberts, Steve Crocker, Vint Cerf, and Dr. Postel are the people we should be seeking to emulate personally and professionally.

To take the surplus value in the Net created by all these selfless patriots and try to monetize it in the way that 20/20 is doing through the public face of the Wireless Washtenaw project, is not a good thing. Having third parties who just happen to own one of the dozen or so routers between sender and receiver insert into the datastream their own or third-party ads degrades the Net for both sender and receiver, and breaks the unwritten compact whereby anyone with an upstream router on the Net passes along third-party traffic in a manner similar to a common carrier, without intercepting or interfering by, for instance, adding spam advertising content to that communication. This principle is sometimes referred to as “Net Neutrality”.

There are also legal issues revolving around this approach to funding Wireless Washtenaw regarding the Electronic Communications Privacy Act 18 USC § 2510.

Also pertinent is the General Prohibition Against Traces and Traps 18 USC § 3121.

I also think this deliberate insertion of spam into the network may fall afoul of the Michigan statue Fraudulent Access to Computers, Computer Systems, and Computer Networks, MCL 795.791 et passim.

What you all are talking about doing with this Wireless Washtenaw “free” service is filling the web browsers of people using the free, public service with third-party spam. Adding banner ads to a content provider’s web page without their consent or inserting interstitial ads between content provider and subscriber is leveraging the intellectual property of that content provider without their permission. This is analogous to sneaking into the Washtenaw News warehouse on S. Industrial and slipping additional advertising into the Sunday Times inserts without their permission. This Wireless Washtenaw “free” service with spam added is not a public service at all, but a fundamental attack on the integrity, security and utility of the Net itself.

sincerely,

Henry Edward Hardy

see also: Seven Questions on ‘Net Neutrality’ for Ann Arbor City Councilman Ron Suarez

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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23 May, 2007 Posted by | 20/20 Communications, Ann Arbor, bad idea, categorical imperative, common carrier, ethics, freedom, government, greed, history, internet, Jon Postel, law, liberty, Michigan, morality, Net, net neutrality, public access, Rich Sheridan, scanlyze, spam, Washtenaw, Wireless Washtenaw | Leave a comment

Seven Questions on ‘Net Neutrality’ for Ann Arbor City Councilman Ron Suarez

Ann Arbor City Councilman Ron Suarez has been getting some good press for his putative support for ‘net neutrality’ — see Michigan City Councilman Fights for Net Neutrality. Ron has opened up his public blog for discussion of this issue.

I have some more questions arising from Cable Bill Threatens Community Access and Leaves Out Net Neutrality on RonSuarez.com:

Ron,

1) Could you please explain what the term ‘network neutrality’ means to you?

2) Are you for or against ‘network neutrality’ as you have defined it?

3) You said, Net Neutrality, besides helping non-profits and others who may never make a fortune, also helps innovators like the You Tube founders to leverage their creativity to make a fortune. Isn’t this the “American Dream?”

How would “net neutrality” help non-profits and “others who may never make a fortune”?

Do you think internet routing currently is “neutral” or “non-neutral”?

And I would say that “liberty and justice for all” is my ideal of the American Dream. “Make a fortune” is the opposite of that as far as I can see.

4) You said, There are countless web sites that I use, which would have never stayed afloat or even gotten started in the world that Comcast and AT&T would like to have.

Could you name such a site and explain how they would never have never stayed afloat or started and what would have made this difference?

And, how do you think “the world Comcast and AT&T would like to have” is different from how the “world” is now?

5) Please explain why it would be helpful or beneficial to replace the system of IETF committees and RFC’s with legislation? What penalties and means of enforcing compliance would you propose? What organization or body would oversee this? How would this be funded? How would or should it be imposed and enforced on the entire internet outside the US?

6) Please explain how Quality of Service routing would be accomplished under “net neutrality”?

see: INDEX RFC : QOS

7) Please explain why it should be illegal for a service provider to give priority to, for instance, data traffic from a trauma center which is a customer of that provider vrs. spam traffic from non-customers?

see also: Robert Kahn speaks out against ‘Net Neutrality’
Hands off my Router! Bad Government! — No to ‘Net Neutrality’!

Copyright © Henry Edward Hardy 2007

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14 February, 2007 Posted by | Ann Arbor, AT&T, cable commission, city council, Comcast, government, IETF, internet, Michigan, net neutrality, policy, QoS, Quality of Service, questions, RFC, Ron Suarez, routing | 2 Comments

Robert Kahn speaks out against ‘Net Neutrality’

Interesting article in The Register:


Father of internet warns against Net Neutrality

No Kahn do


By Andrew Orlowski

Published Thursday 18th January 2007 21:19 GMT

Robert Kahn, the most senior figure in the development of the internet, has delivered a strong warning against “Net Neutrality” legislation.

Speaking to an audience at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California at an event held in his honour, Kahn warned against legislation that inhibited experimentation and innovation where it was needed.

Kahn rejected the term “Net Neutrality”, calling it “a slogan”. He cautioned against dogmatic views of network architecture, saying the need for experimentation at the edges shouldn’t come at the expense of improvements elsewhere in the network.

(Kahn gently reminded his audience that the internet was really about interconnecting networks, a point often lost today).

“If the goal is to encourage people to build new capabilities, then the party that takes the lead is probably only going to have it on their net to start with and it’s not going to be on anyone else’s net. You want to incentivize people to innovate, and they’re going to innovate on their own nets or a few other nets,”

“I am totally opposed to mandating that nothing interesting can happen inside the net,” he said.

So called “Neutrality” legislation posed more of a danger than fragmentation, he concluded.

With the exception of Google’s man in Washington DC, Vint Cerf (with whom Kahn developed TCP/IP), most of the senior engineers responsible for developing the packet switched internetworking of today oppose “Neutrality” legislation. Dave Farber, often called the grandfather of the internet, has been the most prominent critic…

Network Neutrality FAQ
Father of internet warns against Net Neutrality
Dave Farber’s Common Sense about Network Neutrality
Net Neutrality (or Back to the Future) Mark Lloyd — Center for American Progress
Net Neutrality Advocates Face Off by Wayne Rash — Eweek.com
Bob Kahn (wikipedia)
Original thread trackback to http://RonSuarez.com/: Cable Bill Threatens Community Access and Leaves Out Net Neutrality

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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24 January, 2007 Posted by | internet, net neutrality, Robert Kahn, scanlyze | Leave a comment

Hands off my Router! Bad Government! — No to ‘Net Neutrality’!

Hands off my Router! Bad Government!
No to ‘Net Neutrality’!


From a discussion of “Net Neutrality” on RonSuarez.com:

I am in general agreement with Peter’s comments regarding so-called “Net Neutrality”. I would add that for me as a system owner and administrator the issue is: who controls my router policy? Is it me, or is it the government? As far as I am concerned the Net by its historical process should be governed by “rough consensus and working code”.RFCs (Request for Comments, internet administrative documents) such as (more or less at random) RFC 2676 and RFC 2815 provide for quality of service (QoS) and other preferential routing.

So on the one hand, as a system owner and system administrator, I want to be able to offer highest quality service to say, medical service providers who may need real time telemetry and video on a priority basis. On the other hand, I want to be able to give spammers or large organizations backhauling their own IP traffic across my network, an arbitrarily low priority.

Any law about Net Neutrality is likely to be worded such that it will permit interpretations which will criminalize system administrators doing perfectly normal things in accordance with the RFC’s.

What we should ask for is “end-to-end” neutrality — that the QoS (Quality of Service) bits set by a user on one end of a transaction be transmitted intact to a willing receiver. How they are routed along the way is up to the people along the way… not just “a service provider” but sometimes 10 or more hops “in-between”. The whole internet depends on voluntary cooperation without government coercion or proscriptive enforcement.

Here’s a link showing some of the RFC’s relating to Quality of Service routing issues: http://www-lor.int-evry.fr/~pascal/RFC/S.qos.html

Not to mention other routing issues which would become involved in a government-mandated “neutrality” scheme, such as how routes are announced over BGP, or aggregated via CIDR.

In short, “net neutrality” is a slogan for having the government take over and begin prescribing and proscribing how we can set up our own routers and networking protocols. I think this is a Very Bad Idea, and something that Jon Postel fought against.

We shouldn’t be talking about this astroturfing term “net neutrality” we should be talking about “common carrier” status. The operators of the big network exchanges such as PAIX, MAE-East and MAE-West, are essentially “natural monopolies”. They should be granted both the privileges, such as immunity, and the responsibilities of other historic types of common carriers, such as to carry all traffic without discrimination. This however doesn’t mean without routing policies, simply that those policies as much as possible should be “Content-Neutral”.

So best effort, everyone work together, and if you can’t build it again from scratch, leave it alone. Hands off my router! BAD GOVERNMENT! lol

Network Neutrality (wikipedia)
John Postel (wikipedia)
MAE-East and MAE-West
PAIX
Common carrier (wikipedia)

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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23 January, 2007 Posted by | Ann Arbor, common carrier, internet, Jon Postel, Michigan, net neutrality, politics, scanlyze | Leave a comment