Three Updates

Three stories moved forward today:

1. Verizon dropped its legal challenge to the 700 MHz auction rules. I have a feeling they’ve decided that there are ways to work around [link to post giving work-around clues] the no-locking, no-blocking conditions that the FCC established. Plus VZ doesn’t want to be the bad guy, charged by Congress with delaying the auction. They’ve got bigger problems on their hands given the NARAL flap and the fact that…

2. Comcast admitted “delaying” traffic on its network. I learned today that EFF had been figuring this out recently, only to be scooped by AP. We all hope that EFF keeps up the good work. I understand that the preliminary thought is that the Comcast “delaying” is not at all tied to bandwidth use per se - it’s the establishment of a BitTorrent conversation, or a Gnutella session, that triggers the spoofing. So you could be getting ready to trade a 4MB file (very small! won’t hurt anyone’s use of the network!) and if the assessment is that you’re about to use BitTorrent or Gnutella, the RST fraud will be perpetrated. (This post, from last Friday, explains the RST fraud.)

There are lots of ISPs around the world that throttle BitTorrent and other P2P applications. Here’s a list. As some of the commentators here have said, this is done as part of “network management” - because the belief is that “BitTorrent use” is an appropriate proxy for “bandwidth use.” Even if that’s not true. And the ISPs will say in their prolix Terms of Service that P2P is banned. (Everything’s banned in those documents - Data Foundry made this clear in comments filed this summer here and here.) ISPs will also say that you’re not allowed to run a server, and (again) will use BitTorrent and Gnutella use as a proxy for “running a server.” VPN connections - that’s okay, even though it’s technically the same “running a server” idea.

The truth: Comcast and their cronies around the world are discriminating against particular applications. Cable will argue that network neutrality should never apply to it - it’s never been treated as a common carrier. But the deception here, the aggressive treatment of consumers promised “unlimited bandwidth,” and the presumption that Comcast (and others) should get to choose winners and losers among online applications - that’s adding up to claims that look like lawsuits. Those lawsuits, in turn, may lead, finally, to legislation. Network neutrality is central to our shared economic future here in the U.S., and the carriers are showing they cannot be trusted.

3. Remember that post about putting the FCC in charge of email? You thought that sounded unlikely, right? Wrong. USAToday is reporting that there’s Congressional interest in pursuing the question. Comments are due 10/25, Thursday, the day after tomorrow. If there was ever a limitless regulatory swamp, it’s the Commission’s interpretation of Title I. There’s been no Congressional delegation of power over email, there are ample ways to deal with consumer protection questions here - lots of choices of email providers - and there is no need for government intervention requiring email forwarding. Just my two cents. (Thanks to Chuck Jackson for the pointer to the USAToday article.)

I wonder what will happen tomorrow. Will a candidate emerge who understands these issues? We need regime change, and fast.

Cross posted from Susan Crawford blog

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