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Regulatory solution, not technical, is required

Regulatory solution, not technical, is required

Posted Jan 3, 2008 3:48 UTC (Thu) by dskoll (subscriber, #1630)
Parent article: The future of unencrypted web traffic

Really, we need a regulatory solution. Something like: IF ISP X modifies data in transit or
modifies DNS results, THEN ISP X is no longer a "common carrier" and becomes responsible for
all the content it transmits.

I bet that'd put an end to these kinds of funny games much faster than any technical solution.

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Posted Jan 3, 2008 5:49 UTC (Thu) by pjm (subscriber, #2080) [Link]

An ISP that modifies web pages that pass through it may well be in breach of the copyright of
the page author.  They have an implicit license to redistribute the unmodified page, but I
believe do not have any license to redistribute adaptations/derived works of that page.

This presumably applies to all transcoding proxies and other non-transparent proxies too.  The
only differences I can think of is that adding advertizing is “for commercial advantage”, and
that copyright owners may be more likely to sue someone for adding/changing/removing
advertisements than other modifications.

I must note that IANAL, and in fact I'm rather less sure about the above than most things I
might say about copyright.

Surprisingly enough it's quite clear in U.S.

Posted Jan 3, 2008 13:49 UTC (Thu) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

You can read yourself:
In general terms, section 512(a) limits the liability of service providers in circumstances where the provider merely acts as a data conduit, transmitting digital information from one point on a network to another at someone else’s request. This limitation covers acts of transmission, routing, or providing connections for the information, as well as the intermediate and transient copies that are made automatically in the operation of a network.

In order to qualify for this limitation, the service provider’s activities must meet the following conditions:

  • The transmission must be initiated by a person other than the provider.
  • The transmission, routing, provision of connections, or copying must be carried out by an automatic technical process without selection of material by the service provider.
  • The service provider must not determine the recipients of the material.
  • Any intermediate copies must not ordinarily be accessible to anyone other than anticipated recipients, and must not be retained for longer than reasonably necessary.
  • The material must be transmitted with no modification to its content.

If you are selecting and changing content then you are losing this protection and need special permission from Google (and other web sites) to operate...

Regulatory solution, not technical, is required

Posted Jan 3, 2008 8:53 UTC (Thu) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

the problem is that right now the common carrier status of ISPs is very nebulous.

if they should get common carrier status then they need to be neutral about the traffic
passing over their networks (solving the network neutrality problem) and they cannot tinker
with the traffic (solving this problem), but they also cannot be liable for what is passing
over their networks.

if they should not have common carrier status, then they gain the right to tinker with network
traffic, but should then become liable for what's on their network (including the need to
filter out content that is offensive for the people who it are offended)

I don't think any of the ISPs have really looked at the tradeoff, right now they are trying to
play both sides of the fence

Regulatory solution, not technical, is required

Posted Jan 3, 2008 12:09 UTC (Thu) by copsewood (subscriber, #199) [Link]

"the problem is that right now the common carrier status of ISPs is very nebulous."

Those who deliver snail mail have common carrier status but similar problems arise there. They
are not obliged to carry decomposing organic materials, live animals or hazardous substances.
They are not obliged to carry packages greater than a certain size or weight or combination.
They are allowed to sniff for explosives, narcotics and radioactive materials and xray suspect
packages. You also can't get an unlimited amount of mail into a post box designed for a
certain volume and have to make special arrangements for delivery or collection. The fact that
some but not all illegal packages can be detected by scanning does not make the snail mail
delivery companies responsible for illegal packages which can't be detected.

The nebulousness referred to is because sufficient and comprehensive case law does not yet
exist for much of what goes on in the relatively new ISP industry.

Regulatory solution, not technical, is required

Posted Jan 4, 2008 3:55 UTC (Fri) by dirtyepic (subscriber, #30178) [Link]

They also do not (can not?) stamp advertisements on your parcels or sell information about how
much mail you receive and where it came from to 3rd parties.

We need ISPs to be able to do a certain amount of filtering

Posted Jan 3, 2008 10:07 UTC (Thu) by james (subscriber, #1325) [Link]

Such regulation would need to be well-thought-out, or it might prevent (or place a legal cloud over):
  • ISPs filtering spam (and other unwanted messages);
  • ISPs providing optional parental filters;
  • ISPs filtering port 25 outbound by default;
  • ISPs monitoring for and disconnecting virus-infected computers;
  • ISPs redirecting HTTP traffic away from malicious websites.

That list isn't complete -- I'm sure there are other things we'd expect ISPs to be able to do for the general public. There'll be other things in future, too.

Do you trust Congress, Parliament, or whoever to come up with legislation which will prevent behaviour we don't like, now and in the future, will permit filtering that is in the interests of netizens, will be sufficiently flexible for future technologies and problems, and stand up to commercial interests?

We need ISPs to be able to do a certain amount of filtering

Posted Jan 3, 2008 11:58 UTC (Thu) by epa (subscriber, #39769) [Link]

Hmm, I'm not sure, it might be better if ISPs indeed did not do any of the above things.  Just
give each user a quota of packets to send and receive and let them get on with it.

Manifestly, all the measures ISPs are currently taking to block port 25 or cut off zombie PCs
are ineffective in stopping spam, so it would be no great loss if they went back to just
pushing bits.

We need ISPs to be able to do a certain amount of filtering

Posted Jan 3, 2008 19:44 UTC (Thu) by vonbrand (guest, #4458) [Link]

Just think about how bad it would become if they did nothing (Shudder!)

Several categories of service here

Posted Jan 3, 2008 16:28 UTC (Thu) by kirkengaard (guest, #15022) [Link]

The ISP, in its capacity as an email provider, should filter spam and other nuisances _within
email traffic_, but only to the extent to which these are contained within email traffic
directed to or provided by users of its email services.  This is a service provided through
that company's internet service provision, but separate from it.  This is filtering done by a
mail server or associated apparatus on mail arriving over the TCP/IP stream.  This should not
violate common-carrier status because they don't care what the bits are until they become an

Services provided to the user to filter traffic at the user end, such as optional parental
filtering, are not therefore filtering done at the discretion of the ISP, but end-user defined
filtering of end-user defined traffic.  This should not violate common-carrier status because
the ISP retains its neutrality as a carrier, and filtering is done per-endpoint/per-user at
user request.

Monitoring and disconnecting virus-infected computers is a grey area as far as caring what the
content of packets are, because it does require analysis without being an endpoint.  It is,
however, undeniably malicious content.  This intent to harm the user is the valid reason for
filtering, just as the parallel filtering of the mail systems for explosives, toxins and other
undeniably hazardous content.  Users that desire hazardous materials for legitimate purposes
need to go through separate carrier systems and much red tape from the recipient end to
request such materials.  This asserts the express non-malicious nature of that particular
'packet' of hazardous-to-the-user material.  The ISP has a customer safety burden which makes
virus filtering and quarantine a legitimate intrusion upon carrier neutrality.

We need ISPs to be able to do a certain amount of filtering

Posted Jan 4, 2008 2:03 UTC (Fri) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

I specificly picked an ISP that doesn't do any of those things (well, they do offer optional
spam filtering)

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