October 23, 2007 - 8:09 am - Posted by iDunzo
Comcast continues its double speak and carefully crafted workings regarding the company’s policy of throttling BitTorrent traffic, but already the lawyers are beginning to circle and Comcast could face lawsuits in the very near future.
CNet’s Chris Soghoian reports that because Comcast’s filtering technique uses forged TCP reset packets to disrupt traffic it is essentially impersonating its customers.
The forged headers allow Comcast to say it doesn’t block traffic — it doesn’t, the traffic continues to flow, it just gets altered into forged packets that constantly reset the peer connections.
But forging headers is hardly the “cutting edge technology,” Comcast claims it is and it may well be illegal. Assuming your identity and forging packets is roughly the same thing your friendly Nigerian e-mail scammer does to infiltrate your e-mail inbox.
As Soghoian points out, were Comcast to do to e-mail traffic what they do to BitTorrent traffic, they would be in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act and libel for fines and jail time.
So why can they get away with doing it to BitTorrent, Gnutella and Lotus traffic?
The answer is simply that no one has challenged them yet, perhaps they can get away with it, perhaps they can’t, but we won’t know until someone brings a suit against Comcast.
Many states have laws already on the books that make impersonating someone an crime, especially when the impersonation is intended to benefit the person doing the impersonating.
In this case, because Comcast stands to gain from filtering BitTorrent traffic — less strain on the network and BitTorrent is increasingly being used to deliver movies (legally), which makes it a Comcast competitor — the company may soon find itself a sitting duck for consumer lawsuits.