FCC's Draft Net Neutrality Regulations Permit Blocking Torrent Traffic

Ryan Whitwam

The FCC has formally issued their draft net neutrality rules, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is calling foul. The document contains language covering so-called “reasonable network management”. According to the EFF , this creates a loophole that would allow ISPs to block BitTorrent.

The net neutrality debate really took off when in 2007, Comcast began blocking BitTorrent connections. Eventually the FCC forced them to stop, but Comcast is still appealing the decision. This copyright loophole in the draft could be used by content producers to encourage ISPs to enforce copyright law. In fact, the EFF claims the exact behavior that got Comcast in hot water, and kicked off the debate could be perfectly acceptable under the proposed regulations.

It may not be feasible for the FCC to be intimately involved in every aspect of an ISP’s network management. What’s the solution? Can they just require protocol agnostic management?

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