Beware Peer-to-Peer and BitTorrent: Without Net Neutrality, Your days will be numbered and charged

All along, we said that one of the key reasons why cable and phone companies oppose network neutrality safeguards is that they plan to impose a whole new business model for broadband communications in the U.S. They want, in essence, a “pay-per-packet” scheme where they can install digital tollbooths all over cyberspace. Favored content ($$$) gets sent over the fast lane. Others placed on a slower and more limited “tier.” High on their target list as an enemy for profits are peer-to-peer applications (P2P). They don’t want users harnessing the power of the network to bypass their “monetization” plans for the Internet. Technology companies are working to help them give P2P the cold shoulder. Take this new [Aug. 29] announcement from Allot Communications, a company that manufactures a broadband control device called “Net Enforcer.”

Allot can now “detect and manage encrypted BitTorrent traffic,” which it says is taking up too much network bandwidth. Since some of the BitTorrent communications is encrypted, it’s difficult for ISPs, says Allot, to detect and manage it. But with its new service, Allot assure the phone and cable companies (and other places such as college campuses) that encrypted P2P can be sent to slower lanes, limited, or even blocked. Here’s what Allot says in its release: “Using deep packet inspection (DPI), Allot NetEnforcer allows service providers and enterprises to have greater visibility into their networks to inspect identify and analyze hundreds of applications and protocols, track subscriber behavior, prioritize traffic and shape traffic flows. DPI technology provides a comprehensive view of traffic and applications on the network, allowing providers to maintain greater control of quality of service (QoS) on both the subscriber and the application level, and to differentiate themselves in the industry based on tiered service offerings and guaranteed service delivery.”

For more industry documents that give us a digital “Rosetta” stone into our digital future, see here. And remember. The phone and cable companies must be defeated politically when Congress returns next week. We don’t want to have an AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner styled “Big Brother,” able to control our broadband travels. Nor do we want to see these companies use their power to help out the government—say the NSA!

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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