January 27, 2010 | By Richard Esguerra

FCC's Net Neutrality Plan Would Permit Blocking of BitTorrent

Remember what put the debate over net neutrality into high gear? In 2007, EFF and the Associated Press confirmed suspicions that Comcast was clandestinely blocking BitTorrent traffic. It was one of the first clear demonstrations that ISPs are technologically capable of interfering with your Internet connection, and that they may not even tell you about it. After receiving numerous complaints, the FCC in 2008 stepped in and threw the book at Comcast, requiring them to stop blocking BitTorrent. The Comcast-BitTorrent experience put net neutrality at the top of the FCC agenda.

Yet now that the FCC has formally issued draft net neutrality regulations, they have a huge copyright loophole in them — a loophole that would theoretically permit Comcast to block BitTorrent just like it did in 2007 — simply by claiming that it was "reasonable network management" intended to "prevent the unlawful transfer of content."

You heard that right — under these conditions, the new proposed net neutrality regulations would allow the same practices that net neutrality was first invoked to prevent, even if these ISP practices end up inflicting collateral damage on perfectly lawful content and activities.

When we saw the loophole, we had to ask ourselves, "Is this real net neutrality?" And the answer was simply, "No." The entertainment industry is already pressuring ISPs to become copyright cops. Carving a copyright loophole in net neutrality would leave your lawful activities at the mercy of overbroad copyright filtering schemes, and we already have plenty of experience with copyright enforcers targeting legitimate users by mistake, carelessness, or design.

If net neutrality regulations are to be taken seriously at all, then the loophole must be closed. Sign the petition to demand real net neutrality from the FCC.


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