Net neutrality developments: West Coast and East Coast


Two developments on this front, one involving East Coast code and one compliments of West Coast code:

  • FCC instructed Comcast to stop tampering with network traffic. This ruling was widely expected,  so much that one senator decided to file a pre-emptive response criticizing the decision. The final outcome still came down with a narrow 3-2 majority. Typical of East Coast code, this response was largely symbolic and arrive several months late to the scene. Comcast voluntarily suspended the practice in March after its earlier fabrications and denials were publicly proven wrong. This is unlikely to be the final word; Comcast issued what appears to be the opening salvo in a protracted legal battle. It has plenty of ammunition: writing for the minority one of the commisioners called the order “doomed on appeal.”
  • EFF released a new neutrality testing framework called Switzerland. It requires users to download an install an application, which then allows stress testing the available network bandwidth by connecting to other users running the same application and simulating various protocols. Switzerland could have detected the BitTorrent tampering last year, if the experiments were designed to look for that evidence. One challenge in effectively using these distributed sensor networks is knowing which questions to ask. Another potential challenge is that the framework is designed to only check for peer-to-peer connectivity. For example an ISP could still artificially slow down traffic to one website while boosting speeds for its competitor. Because the IP ranges for large websites are well known, this type of tampering can be done without tripping the sensors that check for P2P connectivity.

cemp

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