back to article Google SELLS OUT the INTERNET HIPPIES! AGAIN!

Google is fighting a legal battle to prevent its Google Fiber subscribers from running servers on their network - and "net neutrality" sympathisers are shocked and appalled. In the T&Cs for Google's 1GB fibre service, the T&Cs clearly state: Your Google Fiber account is for your use and the reasonable use of your guests. …


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  1. MrXavia
    Big Brother

    So with google fibre I can't run a VNC server to connect to my desktop?

    I can't run an FTP server to access my own files...

    I can't run an owncloud instance for my own usage?

    What a load of bull, running a server is an every day part of life when you do things on the internet, if google don't want to allow servers, block all incoming connections, as surely the definition of a server is something that accepts incoming connections... I thought UK ISP's were bad, but I don't see them stopping anyone running home servers!

    1. Tom 38

      You don't get it do you, if you get Google Fibre, the idea is that you have faster internet so can suck more from Google's teats, and view more ads.

      The idea that you would use your unlimited bandwidth to stream content from your home to wherever you are is abhorrent - where would the ads come from?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        An expensive "Google TV via Fiber Optics", then.

        No thanks, keep your cancer, Google.

  2. Crisp

    Define: Server

    Because my home machine constantly sits with port 3389 open for access. Most people have some sort of port open waiting for inbound connections, because it's a requirement of the software that they run.

    I don't see how they can legislate this fairly, without screwing over 98% of ordinary users.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: Define: Server

      I hope your Internet-facing router doesn't allow inbound connections to port 3389 from anywhere on the Internet. Google (and any other ISP) don't care what you do on your local network, it's acting as an Internet server for which they require you to take out a commercial contract.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Define: Server

        "it's acting as an Internet server for which they require you to take out a commercial contract"

        Acting as a bog-standard Internet node requires you to "take a commercial contract"?

        Yeah right.

        You are paying for an "Internet connection" (yeah look it up, where is the RFC describing Internet connections that have no services to the outrside?), not for a weird hose that spews content at you one-way.

        1. Chris Miller


          I think you may find that your ISP requires you to enter into a commercial contract before they'll provide you with a service. If that contract says "You may not do X" and you do X, expect to find your service terminated. If you don 't like that, feel free to use a different ISP.

          Hope that wasn't too difficult for you to understand.

      2. R 11

        Re: Define: Server

        I agree about not keeping remote desktop available to the world, but what about SSH? Should that require a commercial contract?

        What if I use asterisk to receive inbound VOIP phone calls? That's banned, but an inbound skype call is okay?

        Is bittorrent a server if it serves as well as fetches?

        What about old fashioned games that had a server mode? Those are banned too?

        Has Google _ever_ given a domestic customer written permission to use any of these or similar?

  3. Don Jefe

    Incompetent Bloggers?

    Say it ain't so!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I agree

    you should not host any type of server using your Google Fiber connection, use your Google Fiber account to provide a large number of people with Internet access, or use your Google Fiber account to provide commercial services to third parties

    I agree with the 2nd and 3rd points of this about nor sharing your connection. But I disagree wholeheartedly with the 'no servers of any kind' part. Purely on the basis that I play a lot of games on LAN and some even over the interwebz.

    More often than not I have the better PC than most people playing, and therefore end up hosting the game, (or in some cases with a lot of players I turn on my second pc to act as a dedicated host) but by googles rules I'm not allowed to do that which is kind've lame imho.

    I can understand no hosting of file servers etc, or of business related web services (unless you are paying for a business license of some sorts) but a simple home website (why you're hosting at home I don't understand) or a game server to play with friends should be allowed.

    I think they need to rejig the whole 'No servers' policy.

    1. rh587

      Re: I agree

      "I can understand no hosting of file servers etc, or of business related web services (unless you are paying for a business license of some sorts) but a simple home website (why you're hosting at home I don't understand) or a game server to play with friends should be allowed."

      Depends. I guess what they're vaguely concerned about (beyond someone setting up a small commercial hosting service on the end of that juicy 1GB line) is someone setting up their own photo-blog at home hanging off their own NAS or something god awful, that blog getting front paged on reddit and rather than merely killing a server (in a datacentre which is configured to deal with sort of thing without nuking access to all their other customers), flooding the street cabinet and killing outbound access for lots of subscribers.

      Sounds like a poorly worded fair use policy. Shouldn't be too hard to monitor either. Normal usage patterns see lots of streaming between 5-10pm, or possibly 8am-5pm for home office workers.

      Someone consistently running 500MB in and out 24 hours a day is fairly obviously a freetard running a big torrent server and pushing the limits of domestic fair use in the same way that someone running a Minecraft or CS server isn't.

      1. Crisp

        Re: Someone consistently running 500MB in and out 24 hours a day

        They would be running a torrent client. Not a server.

        (Although technically, most torrent clients have a few ports open for other clients to connect to, which sort of makes them servers.)

        It doesn't have to be a torrent client though. I can eat up 500Mb of bandwidth just copying a database.

      2. Tom 35

        Sounds like a poorly worded fair use policy

        That seems to be more or less standard. Same for privacy policies as well. They have pages of stuff that all seems reasonable and well defined but some place in the middle will be a vague bit they can read anyway they want.

        The result is...

        Bla bla bla you can't do anything we don't like. Bla bla bla we can do anything we want.

  5. DragonLord

    From what I understand, the server provision is there so that when you start maxing out the line for large stretches of time they can point the finger and say "No" get off our fiber.

    And to answer the point in the article about internet access being treated like a utility. Are you really sure you want to be doing that? After all, you don't get electricity, gas, or water (in new homes in the UK at least) at a flat rate. If you use more than anyone else on the street, you pay more than anyone else on the street. Alternately you could keep the status quo as it is where you buy a certain level of service at a flat rate and they can fiddle with their side to make sure that everyone gets a fair service.

  6. Anonymous Brave Guy
    Thumb Down

    ISPs did this like 10 years ago, are Google trapped in the past? People really need to turn their backs on this OMGZ!! Fibre!! culture unless there is a rival ofc.

  7. Daemon Byte

    depending how they implement it then it's reasonable

    after all if it just targets people who have big servers as part of their business running on this consumer network then they should be stopped. They've already said this isn't about shutting down your minecraft server so I think they will allow you to use servers for personal use. They just have this clause to prevent a handful abusing the network with say a website hosting

    1. Abot13

      Re: depending how they implement it then it's reasonable

      then they should state that commercial servers are not allowed. and for non commercial servers they just should put a FUP in there to be shure.

  8. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Not so un-neutral.

    I'm not very well informed on this, but the product seems to be an Internet connection aimed mainly at home data consumption, and its price is set according to the expected usage pattern. A connection for a server may have a different usage pattern - such as lots of outgoing data. If that's priced separately - extra - for a minority of users who want it, then the service for home users can be cheaper.

    But, yeah, it isn't absolute neutrality - and, if neutrality is mandated......

    Anyway, another way to avoid customers setting up expensive-to-serve servers at home -is- to cap the amount of data that passes per month, in and out.

    If your server is important to you (and is legal), you probably won't have it -at- home, anyway, you'll have it hosted.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Not so un-neutral.

      "If your server is important to you (and is legal), you probably won't have it -at- home, anyway, you'll have it hosted"

      My server *is* important to me, which is why I *do* have it at home, and not lost in somebody else's building somewhere behind somebody else's control.

      And without being able to connect to my home server I'd have to carry my entire digital life around with me in order to access it when not at home - or obtain some crystal balls to find out what subset of data I would need at specific times so I can take a carryable sub-backup with me.

  9. lglethal Silver badge

    This guy is a muppet...

    I'm not even going to go into his arguments (I couldnt care either way), but who launches a legal case based on a law that they havent actually read! Surely the first thing you would do, is to obtain a copy of the document in question (and there not hard toget a hold of), read it, make notes of the areas that you believe are being breached and THEN if you think you still have a case, then raise a complaint.

    You dont raise a case based upon the writings of some intenet bloggers who havent read the document either, but heard from their brother's girlfriend's uncle's best mate down the pub that something's not right.

    Total muppet...

    1. Grey Bird

      Re: This guy is a muppet...

      Now why must you insult muppets?

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: This guy is a muppet...

      who launches a legal case based on a law that they havent actually read

      In the US? Lots of folks. It's a national pastime here. The rest of the world has dreary football; we have thrilling litigation!

  10. M Gale

    Virgin Media tried this

    Well, to be fair it was Blue Yonder that tried it, banning all but personal servers on their broadband service and any servers at all on their dialup service.

    They soon realised what a fucktarded idea that was, people broke the rules en masse, it was utterly unenforcable, and the AUP is now more like "so long as you don't bugger up our network, we really don't give a shit."

    Just as it should be.

    1. billse10

      Re: Virgin Media tried this

      a genuine AUP that just says "so long as you don't bugger up our network (or do stuff that's illegal), we really don't give a shit." would be good to see :-) Wonder if El Reg readers feel like starting an ISP?

      1. PC Paul

        Re: Virgin Media tried this

        I'm with Virgin cable broadband and 'don't take the mick' does seem to be their policy.

        They do allow pretty much any use you like as long as you don't mess the network up for other people, and that's policed purely by their throttling which kicks in after a certain data transfer threshold has been passed, which varies by time of day.

        A lot of people seem to hate this as 'not really unlimited' but it rarely gives me any problem at all, and I'm what I think of as a fairly heavy user, in bursts. The only thing I could quibble about is the actual thresholds, but that's minor compared to 'no servers at all' or other similar draconian policies.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Virgin Media tried this

          When I joined CableTel/NTL/Virgin they had all sorts of AUP nonsense such as no multiple computers, no servers, 'no business use' which seemed to include using VPNs and working from home but those quietly disappeared over time.

          "Don't take the piss" now seems to be Virgin's attitude which is probably better and fairer than trying to define exactly what is or is not allowed.

          Google seem to have taken the easy option - finding it hard to define what is and isn't acceptable without leaving loopholes to be exploited they simply said "no servers".

    2. MonkeyCee

      Re: Virgin Media tried this

      Ah, oldschool network admin. Speaking as a sometimes network admin :)

      Years ago, I had a cable connection with a "surfboard" brand cable modem. Upon some investigation, said model of modem turned out to have dip switches controlling the speed (or just the upload speed, I'm a little hazy on that). Suffice to say that flipping all the switches to on meant I could go from 60 ping to low teens on my preferred spunkgarbleweewee game.

      I was working at the time in a role that meant I was in touch with a fair few of the people supporting ISPs. So that meant that when one of my mates spotted what I'd done (data faster than supposed line cap), looked up my details, and knowing me, phoned me directly.

      Since I was paying per Mb, and no-one really cared about volume traffic except from business customers, my official warning was don't pull that shiz between 7am and 7pm and no-one will care.

      Very sad to see that cable modem go.

      Surely google can just put out their guide to "sensible" use. I mean, if it's less than x% of your allocated pipe, then so what.

  11. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Standard Terms and Conditions

    Every ISP that I've dealt with in the US has these conditions and many enforce them by blocking ports for non-commercial users - port 25 is the most common port blocked for obvious reasons but others may be blocked too like 80/443 for incoming traffic. Most ISPs will state "no servers" but nobody cares when you're just running minecraft or some other low data rate offering.

    Pay commercial rates and you get complete access - what's the big deal?

    1. Tom 38

      Re: Standard Terms and Conditions

      The "big deal" is that ISPs sell internet connections, not WWW connections. I use my internet connection for all kinds of things, if I'm abroad I use it as a 'home' proxy, it's a VPN server, it allows me to contact my home servers and do things like turn the heat on, watch video feeds of my front yard, all kinds of things.

      None of these have any commercial bearing, so why should I pay commercial rates to use my personal internet connection?

      More to the point, why should my entirely reasonable behaviour be something that is explicitly excluded by T&C? Why should my internet connection have the sword of Damocles hanging over it?

      BTW, these aren't typical T&C. My ISP makes no limitations on how I use my internet connection, save that I cannot use it for commercial purposes, I cannot use it for illegal purposes, and they reserve the right to terminate my connection if I abuse the network.

    2. M Gale

      Re: Standard Terms and Conditions

      Pay commercial rates and you get complete access - what's the big deal?

      If you're comparing a leased line with a 50:1 contended domestic connection, I must assume you're having a jolly good laugh. There is your difference between domestic and "business" connections.. what people use it for should really be up to them.

    3. Dramoth
      Thumb Down

      Re: Standard Terms and Conditions

      For some reason, EE (read orange home broadband) blocks the outgoing port 25 unless it is targetted at their SMTP servers. I know this for a fact because my cheap housemate had Orange broadband and when I first tried to send emails to my external mail server, it wouldnt let me.

      I'm considering getting a second line put in so that I can have my own broadband setup at home.

      Screw EE...

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Standard Terms and Conditions

        This seems to be becoming standard. The obvious reason is to block spambots pumping the line full of shite. Reasonable.

        If need be, tunnel out to your SMTP server at [random reasonably-priced physical or VM hoster].

        1. M Gale

          Re: Standard Terms and Conditions

          Using VM as an example again, they allow you to listen or send on any port you like. What they also do however, is run regular scans of the entire network and attempt to take advantage of any open proxies they find. If you're running an open mail proxy that goes through their mail servers, you will be immediately cut off until the problem is resolved.

          Once the problem is solved, you can phone 'em up and be back online in a day or two.

          No, I don't work for VM, but several years ago I did report to Blue Yonder than an Aussie ISP was black-holing all of their mails due to open proxies. That caused a level 1 alert and all kinds of shit flying up at BY central command, which resulted in the abovementioned scans that continue to this day.

      2. Hugh McIntyre

        Blocking outgoing port 25 (was: Re: Standard Terms and Conditions)

        Comcast Xfinity does the same. The workaround is to configure your mail client and any internal/external mail servers to submit over the "submission" port instead (465 if using SSL, or 587 if not). For example, see

        Changing the setup to 465/587 is pretty easy (or automated) for the mail client, but was kind of a pain to get my external postfix server reconfigured to allow :(. Definitely doable though, and easier than a second line. Likewise for any internal mail server(s) needed to allow command-line mail from cron jobs to get delivered.

  12. Kay Burley ate my hamster

    I wouldn't sign up.

    Might as well put em behind NAT...

  13. Jamie Kitson

    Not a big deal probably

    I'm not a fan of Google, but giving them the benefit of the doubt it seems likely that they need this clause to stop people seriously taking the piss, and will let the little people get on with running their homepage and smtp servers from home. As the guy says, I'm sure most other ISPs have the same clauses, but just only enforce them when seriously pushed to do so.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Skype is a server of accepts incoming connections.

  15. Shane McCarrick


    Thank god the author spells it as Fibre- like every sane person does. Perhaps customers could ignore the agreement altogether- and if they get caught out- claim they thought Google were offering 'Fibber' services........

    These US spellings make me want to poke my eyes out with hot pokers................

  16. Greg J Preece

    On Google's side on this one. Those seem like fairly ordinary ISP terms, and if Google is actually running 1Gb connections without caps, it seems like a reasonable restriction...if...

    ...Google have a reasonable charge (say a few bucks a month) that would make that clause go away. I've always paid extra to use tech-friendly ISPs. I pay the additional amount so that they'll throw me a static IP or two and not give a shit about server usage. I don't mind paying a little more for connection perks that would take me outside the category of a general user - I'm guessing that Google is referring to always-on servers here rather than uPnP game servers and the like.

  17. Old Handle

    I doubt they intend to enforce this any more strictly than most ISPs (which is hardly at all) but it is slightly disappointing that a "techy" company like Google can't think of a more internet-literate way to word this than "no servers".

  18. ratfox

    Old news

    Surely this has been known for a long time?

    If I remember correctly, they also have restrictions on using Google fiber for businesses? Eg Yahoo cannot open a data center in Kansas City and order a dozen of Google fiber connections to connect it to the Web? Surely that also goes against pure net neutrality, right?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google are behaving very retarded on this; they know better, so have no excuses!.

    I hope the complainer wins, because the internet is a utility now, so the providers need to behave like utility providers, provide the service, fix failures promptly, and let people use it as much as they like.

    All P2P application (for comms and data) completely FUBAR that T&Cs because /all/ P2P clients are implicitly decentralised servers too! Some home users need remote (server) access for stuff they can't or won't put on public servers e.g. a home PC, a sensor server like a weather station, a home NAS, even home automation.

    No way will I use a Cloud, the data and access security could become irreversibly compromised, then you are stuffed, as a well known file locker provider discovered!

    1. Grey Bird

      Re: Google are behaving very retarded on this; they know better, so have no excuses!.

      Yeah, so we'll be charged by how much internet we use like water and power. They'll come promptly to fix problems, like Comcast... Oh wait!?!?!


    I can remember when there were 6,500 Internet Service Providers in the US. And I look forward to that day again!

    Prohibiting any Internet user from running a server is preposterous. Preposterous! Running a server is what the internet is about. I have always run a server. Nobody questions me about it.

    I truly am speechless, and that doesn't happen very often to me.

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