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[ NNSquad ] Re: CNN's use of "Octoshape" slips live video P2P into users' PCs

This is very important. 

Bob Frankston, in his usual single-minded focus on a blue sky dream of
a telecom world without ISPs (a fascinating, though completely
impractical concept for the forseeable future), has attempted to
totally evade a critical point regarding CNN and Octoshape.  He
attempts to dismiss it with "one can argue against the particulars of
Octoshape" and then tries to pivot over to his usual party line.

The outside article that I referenced did include Brett Glass' tired
and rather silly argument that applications like Octoshape steal
bandwidth from ISPs.  That's wrong of course.  What they actually 
do -- if installed without affirmative understanding and permission of
the computer owner, as is apparently the case with CNN's use of
Octoshape -- is to subvert the users' PC and Internet connection.  In
essense, they steal bandwidth from the ISPs' subscribers -- and on the
sly, too.

This was the focus of my comments.  Computer users are increasingly
being required to install invasive software that has ulterior, often
hidden functions, without full, clear, and obvious disclosure at
installation time.

In the case of CNN's Octoshape deployment, it appears (based on the
reports I have currently) that no obvious and clear disclosure of the
P2P video sharing nature of the program was made at installation
(which could matter greatly to persons concerned not only about the
privacy and security of their systems, but also about ISP-imposed
bandwidth caps as well).

Most users apparently believed that they were installing the software
to watch live programming, but didn't understand that they were also
giving CNN/Octoshape permission to share their personal or corporate
bandwidth (and not in a small way, apparently) as well.

To my way of thinking, that is behavior that really can be viewed as
stealing from users, with nasty privacy and security implications as

The very first, most critical rule of P2P has to be true, honest, 
fully-informed consent.  Anything less is a recipe for potentially
awful and even dangerous abuses.  

Lauren Weinstein
lauren@vortex.com or lauren@pfir.org 
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
Co-Founder, PFIR
   - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org 
Co-Founder, NNSquad 
   - Network Neutrality Squad - http://www.nnsquad.org
Founder, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com 
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com 

 - - -

> Begin forwarded message:
> From: "Bob Frankston" <Bob19-0501@bobf.frankston.com>
> Date: February 5, 2009 10:28:08 AM EST
> To: <dave@farber.net>, <nnsquad@nnsquad.org>
> Cc: "'Dewayne Hendricks'" <dewayne@warpspeed.com>, "'Stephen Ronan'" 
> <sronan@panix.com>
> Subject: RE: [ NNSquad ] CNN's use of "Octoshape" slips live video P2P  
> into users' PCs
> This seems more like the same old fear mongering we're used to from the 
> carriers. Perhaps one can argue against the particulars of Octoshape but 
> the story attacks the entire category of applications and, perhaps, the 
> very idea of running third party applications on our PCs.
> I'm more concerned about Daschle's patron, Leo Hindrey of Excite@Home,  
> than I am about CNN's attempt to advance connectivity. After all, it was 
> Exite@Home that warned us against abusing our privileges by using  
> webcams. Why suddenly this sympathy for that position? Shouldn't this  
> administration be stimulating use instead of giving into fear?


----- End forwarded message -----