16 February, 2008

BitTorrent is not going to wait for the FCC

It was great to hear that the FCC is investigating Comcast for its disruption of BitTorrent traffic, but the developers of BitTorrent are not going to wait for Comcast to change its practices. The Developers of BitTorrent are building a new encryption layer that will work against Comcast and other ISPs techniques for killing the BitTorrent traffic on their networks.

David Downs wrote an excellent article in the San Francisco Weekly that describes BitTorrent and how Comcast was thwarting BitTorrent traffic. Downs describes a visit from Peter Eckersley, a computer science Ph.D. candidate at the University of Melbourne, who works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Using Whiteshark, network monitoring software, Eckersley was able to show how Comcast was spoofing both ends of the BitTorrent communication to discontinue the BitTorrent file transfer.

This is big in terms of Net Neutrality for all of us. This is more than an issue for users of BitTorrent! If Comcast can decide what we can share and not share, does that mean that the phone company can determine who we can call? Can the postal service decline to deliver some of our mail? Lucky for us, those who only have Comcast as an ISP option will be able to use this new version of BitTorrent that is being developed. For the rest of us who have a choice, we need to let Comcast know we do not approve of their "network management" techniques by switching to an alternate ISP.

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