As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, October 19, 2007

We Are So Screwed

Comcast is already violating net neutrality, because it's a "tradition" and not a full law currently, and anyway telecommunications companies don't have to comply with the law anymore according to the US Senate.

NEW YORK - Comcast Corp. actively interferes with attempts by some of its high-speed Internet subscribers to share files online, a move that runs counter to the tradition of treating all types of Net traffic equally.

The interference, which The Associated Press confirmed through nationwide tests, is the most drastic example yet of data discrimination by a U.S. Internet service provider. It involves company computers masquerading as those of its users.

Right now they're just trying to block bandwidth hogs to relieve pressure on their system. But that's the whole point. Telecoms have every incentive to make that pipe as narrow as possible. That way, they can monetize it that much easier. It's a hop, skip and a jump from stopping file-sharing to restricting content. Here's essentially what they're doing.

Comcast's technology kicks in, though not consistently, when one BitTorrent user attempts to share a complete file with another user.

Each PC gets a message invisible to the user that looks like it comes from the other computer, telling it to stop communicating. But neither message originated from the other computer — it comes from Comcast. If it were a telephone conversation, it would be like the operator breaking into the conversation, telling each talker in the voice of the other: "Sorry, I have to hang up. Good bye."

This is access that you pay for, incidentally. And plenty of legitimate content producers use BitTorrent and other outlets to share files legally.

As I referenced earlier, telecoms have an enormous about of money that they're using to buy off politicians and force open a new revenue stream. (UPDATE: they're trying real hard to buy off Democrats now at the expense of meaningful progressive legislation. The corporations see which way the wind is blowing.) They're also jumping into the broadcast media, and the threat of consolidation will only allow their slice of the pie to grow even bigger. I still feel that the vast majority of the marketplace won't stand for this, but the institutional structures are so big and so powerful, sometimes it feels like a crushing weight.

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