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EFF Releases Reports and Software to Spot Interference with Internet Traffic

PRESS RELEASE
November 28, 2007
Technology Rights Group Addresses the Comcast Controversy

San Francisco - In the wake of the detection and reporting of Comcast Corporation's controversial interference with Internet traffic, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published a comprehensive account of Comcast's packet-forging activities and has released software and documentation instructing Internet users on how to test for packet forgery or other forms of interference by their own ISPs.

Separate tests in October from EFF, the Associated Press, and others 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. Despite having been confronted by this evidence, Comcast continues 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," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "When confronted, Comcast has been evasive and misleading in its responses, so we decided to start gathering the facts ourselves."

Protocol-specific discrimination gives ISPs a tremendous amount of power over the kinds of new applications and services that can be deployed by innovators and competitors. To the extent that practices like those employed by Comcast change the "end-to-end" architecture of the Internet, those practices jeopardize the Internet's vibrant innovation economy.

"This recent interference by Comcast in their subscribers' Internet communications is a cause for grave concern," said EFF Staff Technologist Peter Eckersley. "It threatens the open Internet standards and architecture that have made the network such an engine of technical and economic innovation."

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.

"If ISPs won't give their customers accurate information about their Internet traffic controls, we have to detect and document them for ourselves," said EFF Staff Technologist Seth Schoen.

For "Packet Forgery by ISPs: A Report on the Comcast Affair":
http://www.eff.org/wp/packet-forgery-isps-report-comcast-affair

For "Detecting Packet Injection: A Guide to Packet Spoofing by ISPs":
http://www.eff.org/wp/detecting-packet-injection

For more on EFF's research into Comcast's packet monitoring:
http://www.eff.org/testyourisp

Contacts:

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
fred@eff.org

Peter Eckersley
Staff Technologist
Electronic Frontier Foundation
pde@eff.org

Seth Schoen
Staff Technologist
Electronic Frontier Foundation
seth@eff.org

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