Dispute over ISP Content Filtering Continues

Ars Technica, CNET, CNET

Jake Widman

January 30, 2008

2 Min Read
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The argument about whether Internet service providers should, or are even legally entitled to, monitor traffic on their networks and restrict certain content continued on three fronts.First, the public comment portion of the upcoming FCC hearing on Comcast's "throttling" of peer-to-peer content transfer is attracting a mound of testimony that the service provider is not only restricting legal file transfers, but also blocking other legal but high-bandwidth Internet use. Users complain of slowdowns even when downloading open-source software or transferring files from office to home. Others accuse Comcast of inserting packets into data streams to force the stream to be interrupted.

Verizon, on the other hand, has said that it has no interest in being an Internet traffic cop. "From a business perspective, we really don't want to assume the role of being police on the Internet," said Verizon vice president Tom Tauke at an Internet policy conference. Tauke is apprehensive that the expectation that ISPs should monitor their networks for pirated materials (the excuse for Comcast's restriction of P2P traffic) could lead to their being responsible for tracking other material as well.

Meanwhile, Representative Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) urged Congress to not stand in the way of ISPs on the trail of pirated content. "I believe the best chance we have for achieving any success against digital piracy is to allow those entities and individuals who manage networks to have the flexibility and agility to take necessary and lawful steps to stop piracy online before it starts," she said.

At issue in all of this is whether service providers should, or even legally can, discriminate against certain types of Net traffic. Small businesses have a stake because some have raised the specter of an Internet in which small business traffic is handled differently from that of larger firms.Ars Technica, CNET, CNET

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