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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

EFF issues ‘Test Your ISP’ reports

San Francisco-based not-for profit organisation, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has issued reports on how to test your Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and software to checkmate interference with Internet traffic by service providers.

This is coming on the heels of the recent case established against Comcast Corporation allegedly accused of packet-forging, which enables the company to cheat on users and dissuade them from using file-sharing applications basically known as uploading own content to other users.

Tagged “Test Your ISP” EFF said that the project would assist users to know how to test for packet forgery or other forms of interferences by their own ISPs.

The reports endorsed by the EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney, Mr. Fred von Lohmann, indicated that separate tests was carried out in October from EFF, the Associated Press, and others, which showed that Comcast was forging small parcels of digital data, known as packets, in order to interfere with its subscribers’ and other Internet users’ ability to use file-sharing applications, like BitTorrent and Gnutella.

He also informed that despite having been confronted by this evidence, Comcast had continued to issue incomplete and misleading statements about their practices and their impact on its customers.

“Comcast is discriminating among different kinds of Internet traffic based on the protocols being used by its customers,” von Lohmann said, stressing that when confronted, Comcast was evasive and misleading in its responses.

“So, we decided to start gathering the facts ourselves,” he said.According to the EFF reports, protocol-specific discrimination gives ISPs a tremendous amount of power over the kinds of new applications and services that could be deployed by innovators and competitors.

EFF pointed out that to the extent practices like those employed by Comcast change the “end-to-end” architecture of the Internet, those practices jeopardize the Internet’s vibrant innovation economy.

Staff Technologist at EFF, Mr. Peter Eckersley emphasised that the recent interference by Comcast in their subscribers’ Internet communications is a cause for grave concern.

“It threatens the open Internet standards and architecture that have made the network such an engine of technical and economic innovation,” he said.

In addition to an account of the results of EFF’s independent testing of Comcast’s packet forging activities, EFF has also issued a detailed document and software to assist other networking experts in conducting their own testing, which could be find at “Detecting Packet Injection: A Guide to Packet Spoofing by ISPs”: www.eff.org/wp/detecting-packet-injection.

Another Staff Technologist from EFF, and author of the guides to observing packet spoofing by ISPs, Seth Schoen noted that if ISPs would not give their customers correct information, users have the responsibility to detect this themselves.

“If ISPs won’t give their customers accurate information about their Internet traffic controls, we have to detect and document them for ourselves,” Schoen said.

Hence, EFF came up with the idea, encouraging Internet community to explore the reports.

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