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Comcast (USA) ISP Blocks Legal Content

Posted: 02nd Nov, 2007 By: MarkJ
We don't usually cover North American news stories but this one simply couldn't be ignored, especially when you consider that what happens state side has a tendency to eventually happen here too.

Essentially one of the country's biggest ISP's, Comcast, has decided to start blocking customers from accessing legitimate content. This has typically included everything from legal P2P (BitTorrent, Gnutella) downloads to online business applications such as Lotus Notes; something the provider calls "reasonable network management".

Network Neutrality has been a big global talking point over the past few months, though many incorrectly consider it to be a purely American issue. In short, Net Neutralities ideals are designed to prevent ISP's from restricting your access (slower speeds, blocking etc.) to content based on its source, ownership or destination.

To put it another way, imagine if your phone provider was in control of who you could call and what you could say, nobody would like that. In the USA there's a big debate that could result in ISP's being allowed to determine what content gets to you first and fastest that threatens Net Neutrality. For a full low-down on what's happening it's worth paying a quick visit to http://savetheinternet.com .

Here in the UK the same issue hasn't really taken hold in quite the same way, partly because some ISP's already block certain content, partly because the laws are different and partly because many groups, such as the ISPA, correctly campaign against making ISP's responsible for what their users do.

ISP’s that throttle P2P traffic or restrict your ability to view certain newsgroups are nothing new here, in a sense it has become common place. Though much of this is done for understandable reasons, it should not mean that we stop being vigilant of our right to freedom. Some day UK ISP’s may, for whatever reason, begin blocking legitimate sites and content too.
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