Tag: ISP

EU’s net neutrality will not stop ISPs throttling

Sam_and_Ralph_chokeWhile there are some good things in the EU’s net neutrality laws, they will not stop ISPs throttling those they think are heavy torrent downloaders.

The Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communication (BEREC) published its final guidelines for Europe’s net neutrality rules.

The rules, which are included in the Telecoms Single Market (TSM) regulation, would still allow targeted throttling of torrents and other traffic, by claiming that it is network management.

It says that internet providers are not allowed to offer a “sub Internet” service, where access to only part of the internet is offered for ‘free’.

ISPs are still allowed to throttle specific categories for “reasonable” network management purposes, as the second subparagraph of article 3 reads.

“In order to be deemed to be reasonable, such measures shall be transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate, and shall not be based on commercial considerations but on objectively different technical quality of service requirements of specific categories of traffic.”

In other words, network management practices, including bandwidth throttling, could possibly target Torrents under a broader file-sharing category, or VPNs as encrypted traffic.

In other words, it would still be possible for ISPs to throttle BitTorrent traffic if that would improve the overall “transmission quality.” This is not a far-fetched argument since torrent traffic can be quite demanding on a network.

Net neutrality activists have said the rules are better than what was being mooted. They were worried that the EU would allow “fast lanes” and these had been banned. This would stop ISPs from throttling everyone and then charging sites or apps for a fast lane.

The new rules mean that ISPs will not have any incentive to throttle and regulators could stop ISPs from throttling in cases where it clearly had nothing to do with preventing future congestion.


Internet under threat as Patent Troll given the power to threaten every US ISP

Wikia_HP_-_Mountain_TrollAfter winning its case against Cox Communications, Copyright Troll Rightscorp has told every IPS in the US that they will have to pay up too.

Cox Communications last week lost a case to music publisher BMG Rights Management and was told to pay $25 million in damages after a federal court in Virginia found it liable for copyright infringements carried out by its customers.

The case was filed in 2014 after it was alleged that Cox failed to pass on cash settlement demands to customers that were sent by anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp on behalf of BMG.

Now Rightscorp has said that now the court has decided that ISPs are responsible for their customers piracy large amounts of money will have to change hands.

“For nearly five years, Rightscorp has warned US internet service providers (ISPs) that they risk incurring huge liabilities if they fail to implement and enforce policies under which they terminate the accounts of their subscribers who repeatedly infringe copyrights,” the company said.

“Over that time, many ISPs have taken the position that it was simply impossible for an ISP to be held liable for its subscribers’ actions — even when the ISP had been put on notice of massive infringements and supplied with detailed evidence. There had never been a judicial decision holding an ISP liable.”

Until now Rightscorp was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy for a couple of years now.

Cox said in a statement that it was disappointed in the ruling and planned to appeal.  If it does not win then it means that suddenly trolls like Rightscorp will have the power to demand money with menaces from any ISP whenever it feels like, much in the same way that it tried to get individual subscribers.  If the case is accepted as a precedent, it could mean that ISPs could be held responsible for libel, terrorism, crimes, or anything else their customers do on their networks.

It is hard to see how the Internet could actually survive this particular court ruling, at least in the US.


ISPs will be US spooks’ eyes and ears

big-brother-1984The Senate Intelligence Committee secretly voted on June 24 in favour of legislation requiring ISPs and social media sites to report suspected terrorist activities.

The legislation was approved in a closed-door hearing, and is “classified” but will be made public when the law heads to the Senate.

The FBI is apparently worried about American teens being susceptible to the Islamic State’s online recruitment tactics. Twitter has removed tens of thousands of these terror propaganda accounts, which violate its terms of service.

Ironically the legislation is modelled after a 2008 law, the Protect Our Children Act. That measure requires Internet companies to report images of child porn, and information identifying who trades it, to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

That quasi-government agency then alerts either the FBI or local law enforcement about the identities of online child pornographers.

This confirms the fear that laws that start out “protecting children” end up being used for something nastier. What it means is that ISPs and social networks will have to scan ordinary people’s mail and messages looking for evidence of IS or similar activities. It will be similar to what the US government was doing before, but was ruled illegal.

The bill does not demand that online companies remove content, requires Internet firms that obtain actual knowledge of any terrorist activity to provide to the appropriate authorities the facts or circumstances of the alleged terrorist activity.

The terrorist activity could be a tweet, a YouTube video, an account, or a communication.

Twitter, Google, and Facebook haven’t publicly taken a position on the new legislation, probably because they have not read it yet and only heard about it through the Washington Post.

Aussie ISPs help customers fight Big Content

sharknado-2-the-second-one-029499ed6cfab8aeAn Aussie ISP has come up with a fair dinkum way of killing off copyright trolls.

Forced by Aussie law to bend over and give big studios what they want, Aussie ISPs feel that their customers are wide open to speculative copyright trolls. These are the guys who see your IP address in a file sharing cloud and send you a snotty letter demanding money or they will take you to court where you will pay trillions.

iiNet says it will offer free legal services to those individually targeted through legal action. It has particularly named the studios suing over the flick the Dallas Buyers Club.

The ISP said that it “couldn’t sit by and have our customers potentially bullied by the process of speculative invoicing”.

In a blog post published on the company’s website, iiNet Financial Controller Ben Jenkins said a recent Federal Court decision would require the telco to hand over the names and physical addresses of customers alleged to have torrented and infringed copyright on the Oscar-winning film “Dallas Buyers Club”.

iiNet reminded customers that a letter from the film’s rights holders, Dallas Buyers Club and Voltage Pictures, wasn’t necessarily the end of the road.

“It is important to remember that the Court’s findings in this case do not mean that DBC and Voltage’s allegations of copyright infringement have been proven,” Jenkins wrote. “Any such letter is still only an allegation until an infringement is proven or admitted.”

The ISP says it will inform customers if their details are passed on to Dallas Buyers Club and Voltage and this will occur at the same time that those details are handed over. As for what happens next, iiNet is getting on the front foot to assist its customers.

“If you do receive a letter you may want to get legal advice,” the blog post read. “iiNet is working with a law firm that has offered to provide pro-bono services for any of our customers. More details will be provided when agreement is reached on that front.”

iiNet said damages could come down to as little as AU$10 or “less than a parking ticket” for single instances of infringement — essentially equivalent “to the fee that would have been paid had the film been lawfully downloaded.”

Privacy groups wade into UK gov, it's a telco conspiracy

The government and communications providers are conspiring to keep the effects of the Communications Data Bill under wraps, according to a damning letter from privacy advocates.

The Bill was always going to be controversial.  It enables police and security services to monitor internet activity and email communications subject to a warrant being issued, though stopping shot of gaining access to email content.  A draft version of the Bill was published in October, and it is thought that a finalised version could be ready for the Queen’s Speech in May.

According to a challenging letter sent by major privacy activist groups, communications providers could be ordered to store all customers’ comms data for a year, and give police access to the records via a “filter” which would operate like a search engine for a vast database.

Privacy watchdogs are concerned that the data does not just include the content of communications but all the details connected to it.  It wants ISPs to withdraw their support for the Bill.

Big Brother Watch, Privacy International and the Open Rights Group have penned a strongly-worded letter accusing major UK telcos, including BT, Virgin, O2, Sky and TalkTalk, of complying with a government attack on privacy.

According to the Telegraph, the letter said that the telcos have appeared willing to be co-opted as an arm of the state to monitor every single one of their customers. It says that this is a dangerous step, exacerbated by their silence.

The telco’s customers have not had the opportunity to comment on these proposals and most have no idea such a policy was being considered.

The letter said that this is a critical failure not only of government, but a betrayal of the telco customers’ interests.

“You appear to be engaged in a conspiracy of silence with the Home Office, the only concern being whether or not you will be able to recover your costs,” the letter told the telcos.

Computerworld has reported that the privacy groups also attacked the lack of transparency with which negotiations have been conducted, with much of the policy discussions taking place “behind closed doors”. It implied that that the ISPs were bending to the will of the Home Office over privacy concerns.

British ISPs block more torrent sites

A high court order has spurred top ISPs to block three of the largest BitTorrent sites.

BT, Virgin Media, O2 and Be There have all stopped customers from accessing KickassTorrents, H33T and Fenopy after it was claimed in the courts they were facilitating copyright infringement.

The sites were allegedly raking in cash – with revenues estimated for KickassTorrents at around $12,525,469 and $22,383,918, according to an expert quoted in the verdict.

TorrentFreak reports that the High Court ordered six ISPs including BT, Sky, Virgin Media, O2, EE and TalkTalk to block subscriber access to the three torrent sites after the BPI stuck its oar in and moaned that they damaged legal music sales. This is despite evidence from the European Commission that pirates are actually avid content fiends who also pay for their films, TV shows, and music.

No date had been set for the block and TorrentFreak pointed out its own investigations had found these sites were now being blocked.

The order is similar to the one which resulted in a nationwide block of The Pirate Bay last year. At the time the Open Rights Group said the block was “an extreme response,” and claimed the BPI and the courts needed to “slow down and be very careful about this approach”.

This advice was clearly not taken to heart.

The content industry would be wise to understand the Streisand Effect: that an active effort to censor something online will actually increase its popularity. Indeed, when the Pirate Bay was first blocked it quickly became one of the most accessed websites in the UK.

For some low-level pirates, the move will be effective advertising for KAT.ph, H33T, and Fenopy as useful alternatives to Googling for “Iron Man torrent”. Blocking these websites usually has a Hydra effect on their proxies: when one is blocked, more spring up in its place. Even without proxies, it only takes minimal Googling for a user to figure out how to get around the blocks.

So, actually, the BPI might well be shooting itself in the foot on this one. By blocking these websites it is trying to turn the clock back on file sharing – impossible – and tarring itself as an anti-progressive force, much like the rest of the content industry.

UK gov rejects web porn ban

The government has rejected demands that internet service providers place automatic filters on pornographic content online to protect children.

Following a joint consultation conducted by the Department and Education and Home Office, ministers have agreed that ISPs will not be required to put default blocks on pornography, with the responbility lying with parents.  

There have been calls for a process whereby adults would have to ‘opt in’ to see certain content, rather than being freely available for any users to access, including from UK PM  David ‘Dave’ Cameron himself.

According to the report outlining the government’s response to the consultation, ISPs will continue to use an ‘active choice’ system being put in place by ISPs such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media.   This involves encouraging and allowing parents to set controls on content, rather than being putting it under the remit of the ISP.

A consultation showed that only around a third of parents would back the placement of default blocks to be put in place by ISPs, but this was not deemed high enough by the government to warrant blocking of data for all users.

The report stated: “There was no great appetite among parents for the introduction of default filtering of the internet by their ISP: only 35% of the parents who responded favoured that approach.”

The report also highlighted the difficulties in actually putting blocks in place, with an overzealous approach also filtering out content pertaining to other topics such as as sexual health, for example, yet failing to block all the pornographic content on the web.

The proposals also came under fire from privacy advocates. Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, one of the campaign groups opposing the filtering, commented that the government has taken measured approach to the situation. 

“This is a positive step that strikes the right balance between child safety and parentalresponsibility without infringing on civil liberties and freedom of speech,” Pickles said.

“The policy recognises it is parents, not Government, who are responsible for controlling what their children see online and rightly avoids any kind of state-mandated blocking of legal conten,” he said.

He added: “Companies are already responding to demand from some parents for filters and emphasising that choice is rightly the focus of Government policy.”

BPI pushes ISPs for more web censorship

Further plans from the BPI to force ISPs to block a range of file sharing sites have been branded “frustrating” and “extreme” by the Pirate Party UK and the Open Rights Group.

The comments from the Pirate Party UK and Open Rights Group (ORG) come after the recording industry organisation put proposals in place to force the likes of BT, Virgin and TalkTalk to block torrent sites Kickass Torrents, H33t and Fenopy.

The motion follows a successful win by the BPI, which along with nine recording labels including EMI, Polydor, Sony, Virgin and Warner successfully forced ISPs to block The Pirate Bay earlier this year.

Although the ISPs have so far refused to comply with the new orders, rights groups have said they will have to if a court order sides with the music industry organisation, which is pushing for a decision by Christmas.  

The courts need to slow down and be careful about their approach, Jim Killock, executive director of ORG, told TechEye.

“Web blocking is an extreme response,” Killock said. “The orders are often indefinite and open ended, and will be blocking legitimate uses.

“The BPI and the courts need to slow down and be very careful about this approach,” he said. “The BPI seem to be trying to speed things up and that is not good. It will lead to carelessness and unneeded harms.”

Killock warned that censorship is a dangerous game to play, looking at the wider picture. “As an approach, censorship is a bad idea,” Killock said. “It leads to more censorship, and is unlikely to solve the problem it seeks to address”.

The Pirate Party UK published a statement on its website denouncing the moves. Leader Loz Kaye said, commenting to TechEye, that watching an industry continuously shaped by the content industry’s jackboot is frustrating.

“It’s hugely frustrating that our digital and cultural policy continues to be hi-jacked by narrow focused lobbyists like the BPI,” Kaye said. “We should be supporting digital business, not burdening it with demands to carry out censorship.”

“We should be dealing with the devastating effects of the slashing cuts to the Arts Council, rather than trying to shore up commercial interests,” Kaye said, adding that it’s difficult to see where the campaign of censorship will end.

“The government promised not to carry out the site blocking provisions of the Digital Economy Act, but that pledge looks worthless now,” he said. “Until the Coalition acts, I’ll continue to believe they are happy to allow site blocking. The industry lobby has never been able to set out a clear, positive, achievable goal for restrictions. That is why they never seem satisfied.

“Everything we have seen up to now suggests they will be calling for ever more draconian interference threatening the digital economy, our personal freedoms and privacy,” Kaye said.

Jimmy Wales thumbs nose at Snooper's Charter

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has vowed to contravene attempts by the UK government to enforce a ‘Snooper’s Charter’ which would ask internet service providers to record each page visited by UK citizens.

In a joint committee meeting on the Draft Communications Bill Wales told MPs that he would not seek to comply with proposed rules to ensure that all data is stored by ISPs.  

Wales, who has a history of web activism involving stopping access to his site in protest at proposed SOPA legislation in the US, said that he would take measures to block attempts by ISPs to track data of Wikipedia readers.

In the committee meeting yesterday Wales said that he would not assist in the gathering of data.

“We don’t have servers in the UK,” Wales told MPs. “We would be highly disinclined to collect more data than we already do, which is very very little.”

Wales also warned that it would be “trivially easy” for sites to evade detection of its users by encrypting data.

“If we find that UK ISPs are mandated to keep track of every single page that you read at Wikipedia,” he said, “I am almost certain we immediately move to a default of encrypting all of the communications to the UK, so the local ISP would only be able to see that you are connecting to Wikipedia not what you reading.”

“It is something we would do, absolutely,” Wales insisted.

Under the proposed legislation, authorities such as GCHQ would be able to access data without a warrant to look up information on individuals.  The controversial bill has been dubbed the ‘Snooper’s Charter’ since it was put forward by Home Secretary Theresa May earlier this year. 

Top ISPs snub net neutrality code of conduct

A new voluntary code of conduct on net neutrality, due to be unveiled, might just be a waste of time as three of the biggest ISPs are not signing up.

The voluntary code lays down a set of principles in support of the open internet. Signers have to promise to give users access to all legal content and a promise not to discriminate against content providers on the basis of a commercial rivalry.

The code was drafted between Communications Minister Ed Vaizey and ISPs.

It has been signed by BT, BSkyB, O2, TalkTalk and Three but Virgin Media, Vodafone and the two Everything Everywhere networks, T-Mobile and Orange are not signing.

Virgin Media told PC Pro the company had refused to sign because it was too pro-neutrality and the agreement wasn’t tough enough. It said that it was not going to sign as it stands. Virgin had no intention of discriminating or treating data differently on the basis of who owns or publishes it.

Virgin wanted something which was clearer for industry and give consumers improved transparency. But the agreement is worded so that it is open to misinterpretation and potential exploitation.

We have to admit that Virgin has a point. Under the agreement, ISPs and mobile networks would not to use the term “internet access” to describe any package where certain classes of content, applications or services are blocked.

They could apply whatever restrictions they choose, provided they don’t use the term. They would be allowed to slow certain types of traffic, such as P2P file-sharing services, to manage network congestion. But if they do, they agree to tell their customers

Of course Virgin is big on telling its customers exactly what it is doing, so much so the advertising watchdog, the ASA once told it that the small print in some of its adverts was too small

Everything Everywhere said it was too early to know how a code of this type will affect customers’ internet experience.

It said that it supported the principle of the open internet and believe transparency is the way to achieve this. It has signed up to the BSG’s code of practice on traffic management in order to make its policies clear to customers.”

Vodafone has not explained itself to anyone yet.