back to article Google cheers anti-Comcast legislation

Just after Comcast copped to throttling P2P traffic, a new net neutrality bill appeared on Capitol Hill. Yesterday, US congressman Edward J. Markey, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunication and the Internet, introduced something called "the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008". "[This bill] is …


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  1. Robert Armstrong
    Black Helicopters

    A pox on both houses I say

    As a former Comcast customer, I have recovered sufficiently from the horror to state I am free, free at last. My DSL bandwidth is mine, reliable, not shared, and I spend $15 less per month for service with no "special pricing" that expires after 6 months, have greater bandwidth up and down which I gleefully use unthrottled.

    I am all for net neutrality.

    I think Google has jumped the shark and the rot is setting in as it does for all who strive for monopoly. Google is becoming very much like the borg aka Microsoft in their assumptions that what is good for Google is good for everybody. Google's 404 page hack is just another example of the hive mentality that knows what's best for us without ever asking. And don't get me started about the fascists who run Facebook....


  2. Timo

    have to be careful what we wish for - we might get it

    Yeah so I may get flamed for this, but I'm a little worried what is going to happen if the feds force Comcast to keep their hands off of traffic. My internet works just fine now, web pages are responsive and VPN into work does really well.

    Force Comcast to get out of the way and now the few data hogs are going to screw up my internet. Don't get me wrong I use bittorrent once in a while and it is really really cool. But if a "tragedy of the commons" situation kicks in then on average the majority of us are going to be worse off and it was nobody's fault but our own for demanding it.

    Now if this forces Comcast (and everyone else) to find another solution, like throttling, or some other verbiage around this "unlimited" farce they sell, then that may be OK.

    And what ever happened to voting with our dollars? Why is it unacceptable for people to just go pick another service provider? America is supposed to be a free country, free to sell whatever you want, free to buy whatever fits your needs best. Sometimes it just seems confusing when people try to force companies to do what they want.

  3. Morely Dotes

    Reasonable vs. unreasonable

    If a user somehow finds a way to exceed the already-throttled uplink speed provided by Comcast (it was capped at 256k last time I used Comcast), then it's reasonable to lower that user's cap to 128k *IF AND ONLY IF* the T&C has been printed on dead tree material, mailed to the user via certified, return-receipted mail, and contains a specific provision for a permanent uplink speed cap in the event the original cap is somehow circumvented (and if the "violation" ocurred at least 90 days after the certified delivery).

    If Comcast can't provide the bandwidth they promised when they sold the service, then they are legally, morally, and ethically obligated to obtain sufficient bandwidth to "deliver the goods" as promised.

    Throttling a specific *type* of service is completely unreasonable, and appears to be evidence that Comcast's management is taking money under the table from the RIAA and MPAA.

    But that's the type of behavior that helped me make the decision to dump Comcast. I've never looked back.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Robert Armstrong

    You left out Wikipedia...

  5. Joseph


    Why is the "bandwidth hog's" fault if your Internet is slow? He is just using what he paid for. It should be Comcast's responsibility not to oversell their service to the extreme they have done.

    Oh and the reason why you need gov intervention is because in a lot of areas, there is but 1 broadband provider. How are you supposed to vote with your dollar in that situation?

  6. Andy Bright

    Yes we need an authorative position on this

    Let's go look it up on the WikiWeb of truth, honesty and infallible accuracy. But not an ordinary Wiki, oh no! We require one with no bias.

    Ever since the Reg alerted me to the presence of the Wiki equivalent of Fox News, I obtain all my authoritative information from there.

    I now am fully cognizant to the fact that not only do dragons exist, but they were often mistaken as dinosaurs and are still roaming the wild today.

    "Dinosaurs were created on day 6 of the creation week, approximately 6,000 years ago."

    "Dinosaurs lived in harmony with other animals, (probably including in the Garden of Eden) eating only plants; pairs of each dinosaur kind were taken onto Noah's Ark during the Great Flood and were preserved from drowning."

    "Descriptions of dragons are widespread and match descriptions of dinosaurs, suggesting that dragons were real creatures and were actually dinosaurs."

    "Creatures matching dinosaurs (and by dinosaurs they mean dragons) and similar creatures (dragons?) have been described by various people groups."

    I could go on and on, but it is clear that the direction of these authoritative views from seasoned scientists (ok creationists, but that's nearly the same thing - it has 'ist' at the end) is that dragons exist, and we can expect to find one any day alive and well and probably living in Loch Ness.

    So I shall now look up what they have to say about net neutrality, Comcast and Google. Obviously if it's on the internet it must be true, so I shall be forced to believe every word I read.

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  8. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Home servers?

    Many ISPs, especially cable TV ISPs, forbid the use of home servers of any kind. I find that a personal home server is priceless. Not only can I serve up web pages to friends and family, but I can access my personal files and archive my photos from anywhere in the world. It's trivial to set up on a modern computer. You'd think ISPs would encourage some home servers because it would reduce inbound traffic on their peering links.

    Is Google worried that Comcast will ask for protection money? That battle would be hilarious to watch. I'm all for it.

  9. Svein Skogen

    Imagine if

    Imagine if the companies selling software over the internet added a checkbox for "I tried this software via a torrent first". Just to get stats on if what the music-shifting industry (not the music making, but music shifting and packaging) are saying is true. Methinks such stats would basically make those software vendors jump fast and high, and onto the other side of the fence.

    How many seriously believe that Adobe looses sales due to some teenager downloading and learning to use their Creative Suites at home? How many?

    Now, if I read this proposal correctly, this adds a huge cluebat to the US telecoms regulations.

    Of course, you couldn't cry foul if the network operator blocked your download of Icky Smears latest rape of music. Remember the "lawful use" bit, don't you?

    But, when the same filter blocks out your LEGAL transfer, such as one single Linux distro, or the latest WoW-patches, not only can you cry foul, you can prove that the "network management" utilities of the ISP are interfering with lawful applications, you can publically shaft the ISP with your local, legal, cluebat-swinging team of lawyers. Especially if it blocks your linux-isos or distfiles to your latest-and-greatest software package (as in source tarballs, not as in Creative Suite 3-4-5-6), and claim that this caused you delay on setting up that oh-so-important server, and claim damages based on the delay (from when they blocked your transmit, until they settle in court. The longer they drag their feet, the more painful this will be for them).

    This law also gives you a cute little cluebat to swing towards those "we don't want you to run your personal webserver"-companies that block you from having your own site, and then goes on to charge-per-megabyte for storing the data on their "official" webserver. Of course having your own webserver means maintaining it, since the ISP has a rather heavier cluebat to swing at you for distributing un-lawful stuff from it (warez, malware et alles).

    All in all, from the legaleese in this suggested law, it gives back a lot of rights to internet users, be that "consumers" and participants. And it defines the job for the inbetween company. That job is to transmit the data. Not to interfere with it. Speaking of which, it does another job aswell. It gives the ISP industry the excuse they've been wanting. "No, Mr. RIAA exec, we cannot do that. Installing that filtering-feature you want to sell us, might block legal transfers as well, and we're not allowed to do that. Good day to you. No, for the millionth time, protecting your business practises are not our job, that's your own job. That's what the money you earn are for. But you're more than welcome to purchase a landline from us, there's no filtering on it."

    Yup, you read that correctly. This law would allow the ISPs to wash away all the RIAA stains, because if there's even a chance that a filter would give false positives and block a single lawful transfer, that filter software would be illegal, and as such, it places responsibility for protecting RIAAs business empire back at RIAA, not at the ISPs. As such, the ISPs cannot be held accountable for user actions (the users still can), until the RIAA can come up with a 100% free-from-colatteral-damage method of filtering (The RIAA has cried regulators into accepting that ISPs can be held accountable if they don't install lawful filtering. This law would make filtering that gives false positives unlawful, and as such would give the ISPs the chance to refuse installation. Until the time when/if RIAA coughs up with a filtering mechanism that doesn't interfere with lawful data, that is. Muahahahahahah)

    So I guess that the ISP/Telcos also like this legislation, from the perspective that it doesn't cause them more grief than actually having to cope with transporting the data on their lines.


  10. Paul M.

    Bandwidth hog's charter

    "We acknowledge that Comcast has the right to a certain amount of network management.."

    So when one guy kills the internet for the entire neighborhood, is Comcast within its rights or not to throttle him?

    I wonder if Cade Metz is even on this planet. Instead of pandering to the neutrality fanboys, he should read the technical articles by Richard Bennett explaining why Comcast did what it did.

    Why should the internet grind to a halt in the name of "neutrality"?

    Laws have consequences. Badly-written laws have really nasty consequences.

  11. rob miller

    don't quite see the bittorrent part?

    the fragment of the bill presented says don't discriminate on 'source, ownership or destination'. I read that as e.g. not allowed to prioritise comcast-proprietary voip traffic within their network over skype coming from outside their network. doesn't say anything about not throttling tiny outbound p2p packets that use the network inefficiently and end up allowing the p2p user to continuously exceed their share of contended bandwidth. if you want dedicated bandwidth, read the fine print on your sla and ensure you are buying it.

  12. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So "net neutrality advocates" like the bill ?

    Just wait until RIAA & Co. finds a way to bite them in the ass with it, like the DCRM has been totally denatured to fit the whims of any checkbook-wielding aspiring monopolist.

    If said advocates are not up in arms, I suspect it is because they have not yet found the flaw that has been (un)intentionally sewed in the lining.

  13. Stephen Jones

    @Paul M

    Richard Bennet is an idiot at best or shill at worst. Every one of his arguments starts on the presumption that there isn't enough bandwidth to go around and anyone using the bandwidth they've been promised is evil. I bet he's never set up a proper traffic shaping system in his life, whereas any Linux geek worth his salt can make quake packets < 20ms while maximising BitTorrent's bandwidth utility. Yes Comcast has a lot more tubes to manage, but they also have high end hardware, and highly paid engineers. Perhaps if they shifted some of their lobbying budget into engineering this would never have happened...

  14. fred base

    @Paul M

    There is documented evidence that Comcast wasn't throttling packets, it was cancelling them, which is totally different.

    Companies choosing to prioritise interactive traffic at the expense of other data is one thing - throughput can be self adjusting, dependent on capacity. Cancelling traffic you don't like/want is totally unacceptable.

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