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[ NNSquad ] Re: FCC paths to Internet network management? (from IP)

Even though Brett's a good guy -- Sometimes I think that Brett and I
disagree so completely that if we both happened to meet someday, we would
mathematically cancel each other out and disappear from view, never to be
heard from again. :-)

A lot of what Brett has said, he has offered to this list before.  There is
no need to repeat those previous conversations.  However, Brett said
something relatively new (to me, anyway).  Naturally, I disagree with it.

> Sixth, there should be no obfuscation of P2P. It is ironic that
> Comcast was accused of hiding its minor mitigation of P2P, but no
> one at the hearings mentioned that the implementors of BitTorrent
> are actively pursuing obfuscation techniques themselves. If ISPs
> are expected to be open, so should P2P users.

Topmost and foremost, if an ISP sniffs a packet of mine and can't see
inside, that's too bad.  He can file a complaint with the Itty Bitty Tough
Titty Committee.  We meet in two days, on the 30th of every February.

Every obfuscation technique used by BitTorrent and eDonkey is specified in
an open manner.  There is no "irony" about P2P obfuscation because there was
no secret about it.  These protections were added because of abusive ISPs
who sell access to the Internet and then secretively and programmatically
attempt to define it to their own liking, in violation of accepted Internet

By making the obfuscation methods open, it simply makes inappropriate
behavior on the part of ISPs more difficult.  It does not thwart identifying
an IP address using P2P, nor does it prevent an ISP from enforcing lawful
and agreed-upon Terms of Service as a contractual matter.

If a private network owner, such as an employer, decides to prohibit P2P on
their internal network as a work-place rule, the open and public nature of
the P2P obfuscation methods will still allow them to do detect the traffic
right to its source within their enterprise.  The employer can then enforce
their workplace rules as a matter of employee discipline.  Employer's
network, employer's rules.

While obfuscation may make it more difficult for network owners to figure
out what is being shared, that is 1) a moot point -- it isn't necessary to
identify what is being shared to enforce workplace rules or
non-discriminating contractual limits in a Subscriber Agreement.  2) Where
corporate or state security indeed is an issue, it is relatively trivial to
manually de-obfuscate recorded packets to discover what is being shared.
The encryption methods are mostly simple ciphers, so that they do not add
processing power load nor inflate the size of the data being shared.

The obfuscation methods are intended to frustrate ISPs who sell access to
the free and open Internet, and then take inappropriate measures to attack
those freedoms that they do not like.  It forces such providers to define
their offerings in a manner where the nature and limits of the Internet
Access being sold is actually clearly understood before the subscription is
made, and afterward both ISP and user are then under more equal obligation
to one another to meet their agreements.  By ISPs continuing to raise the
stakes in this cat-and-mouse game, they continue to attempt to avoid
confronting abusive users or they continue to pretend that they are not
frustrating honest ones.

I use obfuscation, even though I have a good ISP (not Comcast) that
understands its role in providing Internet Access.  I also use it, even
though the files I share I am authorized to distribute.  But by enabling my
P2P client to use obfuscation, I help the performance of other peers around
the world whose ISPs and transit providers behave inappropriately.  If my
peer truly is breaking an obligation to the network owner, the network owner
should confront the user and not the protocol.

Robb Topolski