After consultations security expert believes Comcast may be "violating the law" on Torrent practices

After consultations security expert believes Comcast may be "violating the law" on Torrent practices

Summary: Christopher Soghoian, a graduate student in the school of Informatics at Indiana University, delves into the areas of security, privacy and e-crime, has done extensive researh into Comcast's throttling of BitTorrent and other high bandwidth traffic- and alleged impersonation practices to cripple this content.In an extensive post that just went up on our sister site News.

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Christopher Soghoian, a graduate student in the school of Informatics at Indiana University, delves into the areas of security, privacy and e-crime, has done extensive researh into Comcast's throttling of BitTorrent and other high bandwidth traffic- and alleged impersonation practices to cripple this content.

In an extensive post that just went up on our sister site News.com, Christopher not only believes that Comcast is guilty of these practices, but may in fact be violating the law.

As a result, he concludes that "lawyers are circling in the water" around Comcast, and that suits may be inevitable. 

As I mentioned in an article last month, Comcast's tactics may very well be violating the law. Many states make it illegal for an individual to impersonate another individual. New York, a state notorious for its aggressive pro-consumer office of the Attorney General, makes it a crime for someone to "(impersonate) another and (do) an act in such assumed character with intent to obtain a benefit or to injure or defraud another." (See: NY Sec. 190.25: Criminal impersonation in the second degree). I do not believe that it would be too difficult to prove that Comcast obtains a benefit by impersonating others to eliminate or reduce BitTorrent traffic. Less torrent data flowing over its network will lead to an overall reduction in its bandwidth bill, and thus a huge cost savings.

With regard to Comcast's legal liability, (Electronic Frontier Foundation's Fred) von Lohmann said that he could not comment as he had not yet had a chance to review the New York anti criminal impersonation laws. He did, however, state that "(The EFF has) already been contacted by attorneys who are considering legal action against Comcast." In the meantime, the EFF will "continue to perform tests in hopes of better understanding how this works and how it might effect Comcast subscribers and other Internet users."

While the EFF is holding back for now, it seems clear that other lawyers are circling in the water. They can smell blood. Not only is Comcast actively impersonating its customers on the Internet, but it has continued to deny it for the past two months. Should the court's approve a class action lawsuit, Comcast could be looking at a world of pain--and rightly so.

If you were a prosecutor, would you investigate filing a lawsuit against Comcast for these practices?

Topics: Browser, CXO, Security, IT Employment

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5 comments
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  • What is Comcast thinking of ?

    "If you were a prosecutor, would you investigate filing a lawsuit against Comcast
    for these practices?"

    You dang skippy . Not only do I subscribe to Comcast CATV , but currently I'm a
    Comcast High Speed Internet User , but not for long anyway . I just received my
    Verizon DSL modem and come this Friday at 6:00 P.M. I will initiate my conversion .
    If they (the lawyers) want folks to sign a petition . I will be more than happy to do
    so . Now , I'm also looking for a provider to replace Comcast's CATV at my house . I
    don't want it anymore .
    Intellihence
    • Comcast is the ONLY cable/internet provider ...

      Comcast is currently the ONLY viable cable/internet provider for
      most of the Houston Texas area so until the competition builds
      out their fiber optic lines we are stuck. Dish & Direct TV have
      horrible signal losses during rain storms so that is not a reliable
      option.
      Unfortunately Texas is so pro-business it's not even funny.
      I believe in a good business environment but this is ridiculous.
      New Yorkers, please save us Texans!
      kd5auq
      • Aww man you have it bad out there.

        Must be Bush's doing , I dunno . Are you serious about Direct TVs poor signal because
        of the rain . I'm glad you told me , I was looking into getting Direct TV , now I have to
        do more research . Thanks for the heads up .
        Intellihence
        • My fiance works for DirecTV tech support

          She says she was surprised at how easily weather could affect it. It's probably larger to her because she gets all the complaints and none of the compliments, but it's something you should research.

          As for the whole comcast situation, the choices here in Las Vegas were always Cox or Sprint(now Embargo). And our DSL out here has always sucked, be it Sprint or Embargo, so Cox tends to dominate the internet. (Caveat, I used to work for cox doing their tech support. Las Vegas was always one of the areas that didn't seem to require much in the way of service calls and I've had few interruptions over the past 6 years. Phoenix and Tuscon on the other hand.....shitty wiring from the previous cable companies + the heat issue in the summer made for busy julys!)

          Rather glad I don't have Comcast. Considering the alternative out here that would leave me with sucky choices.

          I hope they get their pants sued off of them for this.
          SniperCT
        • DirectTV/DishNetwork

          I read the threads, and thought I would let you know about my experience with satellite so far.

          I have DishNetwork, it's the same concept. On occassion, when the weather is severe (and I'm talking severe, pouring rains, lightning/thunder, high winds, etc) the signal can get interrupted. I've had it for a while, and lost signal once. 10 minutes later the electricty went out as well. Within 30 minutes everything was fine. My aunt has had it for years, and before I bought it I asked her about how frequently she loses signal, she said about twice a year, perhaps more often if the weather is very bad for a long period of time, never for longer than a few minutes.

          If you don't want cable, satellite is a good option. I found that my cable was disrupted far more frequently, and the enhanced picture quality and addition of channels is worth the 20 minutes or so that you may be without tv twice a year.
          laura.b