A Brief history of How the Net Neutrality Fight Started

In the middle of summer 2007, I was contacted by my big boss at TorrentFreak, Ernesto van de Sar, to investigate a report he’d had. According to some reports on forums like DSLreports, Comcast users were having issues keeping or making BitTorrent connections, especially seeding, and could I take a look at it?
So I did.

I reached out to my friends, and friends-of-friends, looking for Comcast customers (and non-Comcast customers), and started some research going. I was nearly a hermit for 2 weeks, as I talked people through setting up the data collection systems, and then processed the data. It did, however, pay off as it led to proof that there was indeed something screwy going on with Comcast connections. Not all connections, mind, but most, and spread all over the US, from Utah to New England.

Basically, Comcast was using a product from Sandvine to disrupt the use of BitTorrent. When it detects BitTorrent seeding, it would perform a man-in-the-middle attack, and send RST packets to both ends of the connection, terminating the connection, made to look like it came from the other end. Imagine a phone call, and the phone company decides to terminate it but makes it seem like the other side deliberately hung up on you. Continue reading…


UK IPO Hunting Piracy Suppression Validator

Anti-Piracy efforts have never gone as planned. Enforcement actions have never produced the results that were promised, so what can be done? The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is now looking to commission outside research to evaluate just how effective its policies are, and how better enforcement can be made more effective to meet industry-led goals. Continue reading…


Proposed DHS Rules May Cause the Deaths They Claim To Prevent

Back at the end of March, the Department of Homeland [in]Security issued rules stating that all electronics larger than a smartphone should be checked instead of kept in a carry-on on flights into the US from 10 airports or on 9 airlines from mainly Muslim countries in the middle east and north Africa. This was following claims by US and UK intelligence that terrorists are smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items to ‘target commercial aviation.

Not only does this not pass the smell test (anyone looking to bring down an aircraft with explosive devices won’t matter if it’s in the cabin or the hold, boom is boom) the idea that it’s going to go through some sort of super-secret screening is laughable when red-team penetration tests find it trivial to get prohibited items onto aircraft (including people with no ticket who bypass security screening), but many airports already require carry-on electronics to be x-rayed, and often swabbed for explosive residue. What’s more, I remember seeing ‘explosives smuggled on board’ hysteria since Pan Am 103 almost 30 years ago, where Czech explosive Semtex was suspected to be in everything from fake muesli to electronics following the use of just 12 ounces (340g) to blast a 50cm hole in the 747’s hold. Continue reading…


New Book Project – Philosophies from the Disc

The wisdom of these books and more, distilled.

I’ve been busy working on several projects over the past few months, and one I’m now happy to announce is a new book. (well, if you follow me on Goodreads, you’ll note I announced it there a few weeks back). This book will NOT be about politics, but will instead focus on another love of mine, the Discworld.

The deep philosophy of these books and more, distilled for you.Of course, as you know, I can’t leave politics alone, so this is a book that’s about Discworld, but also politics, facts, and philosophy. In short, it’s basically “Everything to learn about life can be learnt from Discworld” (got a better title idea, let me know!) Continue reading…


Civil Forfeiture (and Karma) Could Destroy Trump

Kira Lerner at ThinkProgress today wrote about how the New York Attorney General is looking into state-based solutions to deal with the emoluments issue with Trump. In short, the state can investigate the payments not from the point of view of the President, but instead focus on the Trump Organisation aspect. This got me thinking a little about an incident in the news last week when Trump threatened a state senator because that legislator wanted to place some more safeguards on civil asset forfeiture. Could Trump — who values his wealth as a sign of power — be substantially hit (and possibly learn a lesson) if he were subject to the very thing he seems to champion? Continue reading…


Brexit, The Referendum, & the Balancing Act

As parliament goes ever closer to a Brexit vote (now that the Supreme court has said it has to have a vote and that the PM can’t unilaterally act – much to the anger of those claiming they wanted to return power to Parliament and away from an unelected entity making laws.. go figure) there is an increasing debate over which way MP’s should vote.

Before the referendum, a majority of MP’s were opposed to Brexit, and since the referendum, many seem to be leaning towards voting for it.

Let’s break this down a bit. Continue reading…