Posted tagged ‘fcc’

Comcast: “All Your Law Are Belong To Us.”

February 26, 2008

Our free-market system took a hot poker in the eye today. Comcast, under FCC scrutiny for aggressive and intrusive internet throttling, stacked the deck at their FCC hearing with a roomful of paid audience members who cheered for them during the deliberations. Worse, this pre-emptive strike against free speech was executed 90 minutes before the start of the proceedings, so actual citizens with an actual interest were turned away at the door.

So to summarize, Big Company snoops on their customers’ private communications, uses that data to selectively and anonymously interfere with their customers’ computers and reduce bandwidth use, all the while insisting it did no such thing. That is, until proven otherwise by third parties. When the FCC tries to look into the matter, Big Company tries to derail a fair hearing by secretly bussing in a roomful of shills.

They must have one hell of a lobby, to so arrogantly mislead lie to the public and the government.

Update 3/28/08- Comcast announced today that they’re really very sorry, and they didn’t know what they were secretly doing, and they want to kiss and make up. Nine months from now, they will stop discriminating against peer-to-peer traffic, and find some other way to avoid swamping their network. In the meantime, Verizon has found a way to support peer-to-peer file sharing, increase upload and download speeds, and minimize costs.

The opinions expressed in Steve’s Peeves are normally intended to enlighten, entertain and, in some cases, uplift. (In this case, “enrage” may be closer to the truth.) They may not be appropriate for young readers or the satirically challenged. Parental supervision is advised.

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Comcast Follies 2-15-08

February 15, 2008

Ars Technica is reporting and analyzing Comcast’s 57-page response to the FCC investigation into its internet traffic throttling policies.

A few questions have been answered: Yes, Comcast has been doing this for a while, though their press releases would have a rational person believe they had never done so. Yes, they are disrupting customers’ traffic by sending phony TCP reset packets that masquerade as originating from remote computers that customers are connected to. No, they don’t like calling these “forged packets.” No, they don’t think this is in any way wrong (regardless of their actions to conceal this behavior).

One interesting change in their rhetoric is they’re no longer justifying their actions as necessary anti-piracy steps. Plus, they seem to realize they’re on the defensive, accusing their critics of “inflammatory hyperbole.”

A few questions are unanswered. If this interference with normal communications is supposed to enhance everyone’s internet experience, why do all my internet programs (browsers, email, web publishing, synchronizing my computers) time out and fail when they’re throttling my connection? To hear them explain it, only P2P uploads should be affected, only some of the time. Why did they waste all our time with disingenuous answers for so long, so that the AP and the EFF had to independently prove they were, well, lying? As Art Technica writes, if this bandwidth issue is such a problem, why haven’t they had a similar issue with downloads? As I wrote, doesn’t their recent announcement offering a 20x speed boost to “millions of customers” contradict their stated need to conserve bandwidth to preserve their customer’s satisfaction?

The opinions expressed in Steve’s Peeves are intended to entertain and, in some cases, uplift. They may not be appropriate for young readers or the satirically challenged. Parental supervision is advised.

Comcast: We’ll slow down your internet if we want to

February 8, 2008

Electronista.com and other news outlets are reporting today that Comcast has modified its user agreement to allow discretionary traffic throttling to and from its customers.

As a Comcast customer I’m already peeved at the company, which signed me up for a year at $99 a month, and has increased my bill every month nonetheless. I’m up to $130 for my $99 service already, and the year isn’t half over yet. I’m not alone. And yes, I am also experiencing the speed obstacles imposed by Comcast. It’s so bad that my computers become slow and unresponsive because all internet traffic is squeezed through and often deleted by their artificial bottleneck, and so blogging, emailing, and browsing the web become frustratingly futile.

This latest maneuver is especially galling for three reasons:

First, they are on record in the last few weeks promising the FCC they “do not block access to any applications, including BitTorrent,” though the Associated Press and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have proof to the contrary. In particular, AP reporters tried to download a free, uncopyrighted version of the Bible, and detected malignant data sent by Comcast pretending to be a remote computer, and stopping the transfer. The FCC is currently investigating.

Second, while they hide behind the “reasonable network management” excuse, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts announced at 2008 CES that they are rolling out new service to “millions” of customers later this year which will offer speeds of up to 100Mbs, twenty times faster than my current 5Mbs. So, why is Comcast playing the “we’re running out of bandwidth” card when they will soon have it in abundance?

So far, Comcast’s protestations of innocence sound like complete fabrications. Worse, their policy and their use of Sandvine traffic-blocking software is tantamount to eavesdropping, selective censorship, and fraudulent electronic communications (namely, the bogus messages they create and pass off as coming from third-party computers).

Finally, today’s Electronista article quotes a Comcast spokesperson as saying, “this [traffic shaping] is being done to protect users from “spam, viruses, security attacks, network congestion, and other risks and degradations of service.” (The emphasis is mine.) There’s a lot of disinformation in that one sentence. The main point is, Comcast’s invasive measures do not and can not protect me from any of those things except network congestion. And that’s a specious argument—Comcast isn’t protecting me from those things, Comcast itself is intentionally causing those problems, congesting my network and degrading my paid-for service.

Verizon FIOS, here I come.

Update- The news is spreading fast. I found this blog post by a legit, Linux-sharing Comcast customer great reading. He tried to get a straight answer from Comcast whether they were actively slowing his legal uploads. Hilarity did not ensue.

This news item on Ars Technica has a wealth of background information, including the news that Comcast customers are flooding the FCC with complaints.

The opinions expressed in Steve’s Peeves are intended to enlighten, entertain and, in some cases, uplift. They may not be appropriate for young readers or the satirically challenged. Parental supervision is advised.