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Vonage's Citron Says VoIP Blocking Is 'Censorship'

SAN FRANCISCO -- According to Vonage Holdings Corp. CEO Jeffrey Citron, intentional blocking of Voice over IP traffic is more than just a competitive dirty trick -- it's an act of censorship against free speech.

In an exclusive interview here Tuesday [March 1], Vonage's chief executive said the issue of the company's recent incident of having some VoIP traffic blocked reaches beyond the market for IP-based voice communications and into the realm of free speech -- and as such, should be protected by the courts, the FCC, or by new telecom regulation that ensures free and open access over the Internet.

"What is this [port blocking] really all about?" said Citron, who was in San Francisco Tuesday for the Reuters Technology Summit. "It's really censorship in a way."

Though Citron would not identify the ISP that Vonage is claiming to have blocked its VoIP service, he did provide some additional details about the incident, as well as some opinions on where the online world might be headed if technologic tactics like port blocking or traffic manipulation are not actively discouraged or made illegal.

The advanced features of network analyzers, Citron said, already allow administrators to look not only at what types of packets are traversing their networks, but into the actual content of the packets. Port blocking of VoIP traffic, he opined, is a step down a slippery slope that could lead to network owners blocking content or Web sites they disagreed with.

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