You've probably heard that Comcast is throttling P2P downloads, and that the FCC was interested enough to hold a hearing yesterday. At that hearing, 2 Internet pioneers gave Comcast a piece of their minds.
David Reed, an MIT professor who's considered to be an Internet engineering pioneer, said Comcast's behavior makes him especially "uncomfortable" because it involves both deep packet inspection, which poses privacy concerns, and injection of forged reset packets, a disruptive tactic that makes a message appear to be coming from someone it's not.
One problem is an absence of quantifiable ways of figuring out whether peer-to-peer use is causing consumers to exceed their seemingly unspoken bandwidth allotments--and what those are, anyway. FCC Republican Chairman Kevin Martin and Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell each pressed Comcast to help supply that information, but in a way, they may have been asking the wrong question.
That ambiguous threshold makes it difficult for application developers and users alike to know what exactly they're getting from their Internet access provider, David Clark, chief protocol architect of the Internet during its nascent stages and a senior research scientist at MIT.
Clark said he doesn't understand why ISPs are reluctant to be more specific about such policies, although he did acknowledge it's difficult to say "how much is too much." "If I had to quantify what constituted unacceptable congestion, it becomes a very contentious space," he said.
It would be nice to see the FCC continue to pursue this matter. Actually, it would be more than nice, but with the FCC, who knows?