Microsoft Wants Smaller Software Footprints - InformationWeek
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Microsoft Wants Smaller Software Footprints

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InformationWeek Daily - Monday, Oct 22, 2007

Editor's Note

Comcast Disses Net Neutrality By Blocking Online Services

According to a report from AP, Comcast actively violates the idea of Net Neutrality, interfering with attempts by some customers to share files online.

Here is a look at the report:

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.

If widely applied by other ISPs, the technology Comcast is using would be a crippling blow to the BitTorrent, eDonkey and Gnutella file-sharing networks. While these are mainly known as sources of copyright music, software and movies, BitTorrent in particular is emerging as a legitimate tool for quickly disseminating legal content.

While I realize it's a slippery slope argument, I do worry when ISPs start to block certain types of traffic on their networks. Sure, they may be blocking BitTorrent today, but they may block other Web sites in the future. And as a consumer if I pay Comcast for broadband, I want to be able to control my Web experience.

I can hear some of you typing your e-mails already. Traffic shaping is a necessity for proper network management. All Comcast is doing is just making sure that it can deliver consistent quality of service. Not true:

Comcast's approach to traffic shaping is different because of the drastic effect it has on one type of traffic -- in some cases blocking it rather than slowing it down -- and the method used, which is difficult to circumvent and involves the company falsifying network traffic.

Comcast is going out of its way to block a specific type of traffic here and that is the kicker.

What do you think? Does Comcast have the right to manage its own network, even if that right interferes with Net Neutrality? Or is Comcast setting a potentially dangerous precedent?

Let us know at the InformationWeek blog.

Stephen Wellman

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