EFF Warning: Net Neutrality Plan Permits BitTorrent Blocking
Article by George Norman
On 29 Jan 2010
The whole net neutrality debate started back in ’07 when the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) found out that Comcast was blocking BitTorrent traffic. Previously it was believed that internet service providers (ISPs) could not tamper with the user’s internet connection. But apparently they could tamper with it, and they didn’t even bother to tell the user about it.

As you can imagine, a lot of people did not take this news smiling. A ton of complaints were delivered to the EFF, who in 2008 decided to step in and take action against Comcast. All this “Comcast is blocking BitTorrent” business got the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to pay attention and put net neutrality high up on its list of priorities.

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The EFF has uncovered that FCC’s current net neutrality plan is flawed. EFF activist Richard Esguerra explains: “Now that the FCC has formally issued draft net neutrality regulations, they have a huge copyright loophole in them — a loophole that would theoretically permit Comcast to block BitTorrent just like it did in 2007 — simply by claiming that it was "reasonable network management" intended to "prevent the unlawful transfer of content. You heard that right — under these conditions, the new proposed net neutrality regulations would allow the same practices that net neutrality was first invoked to prevent, even if these ISP practices end up inflicting collateral damage on perfectly lawful content and activities.”

The bottom line is that with such a copyright loophole, this is not net neutrality. Overbroad copyright filtering schemes could end up governing your lawful online activities. Keep in mind that the entertainment industry is already putting a lot of pressure on ISPs to basically ensure no copyright infringing is going on via their networks, to basically become copyright cops. This loophole has to be closed if the net neutrality plans are to be taken seriously.

The EFF invites you to sign a petition that asks the FCC to come up with a real net neutrality plan – click here.



Tags: EFF,Electronic Frontier Foundation, FCC, Federal Communications Commission, Net neutrality, BitTorrent
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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