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Google to Help Users Detect Internet Filtering

Internet filtering of any kind is nothing new or shocking. That doesn't make it any less popular with the majority of users though. On Wednesday, Google disclosed a plan that will eventually allow the end user to detect filters on different traffic types.

According to Internet Service Providers, controlling the flow of certain traffic types is necessary to ensure adequate service for their customers. This reasoning doesn't go down too well with proponents of network neutrality. Google is backing a network diagnostic system called Measurement Lab which includes a series of tests aimed at detecting throttling of certain traffic types, as well as determining possible causes for poor connection speeds.

Currently, there are only three tests out of five available to run. One checks for throttling of BitTorrent traffic, another for problems that could be potentially limiting speeds, and a third which diagnoses problems with last-mile broadband networks. The currently unavailable services determine if the ISP is prioritizing some traffic above others and if the ISP is degrading network performance for certain users, locations or applications.

Google has provided researchers with three dedicated servers for data collection, and will increase that to 36 across 12 locations worldwide within six months. All data collected will be made publicly available. Most of the servers are overloaded or unavailable at the time of writing.

This announcement came shortly after Cox Communications announced plans to prioritise "time-sensitive" traffic, such as web browsing, email and gaming over traffic such as file uploads and peer-to-peer during times of network congestion.

  • As a fiber and trunk tech for a national cable company, I can tell you that this is going to cause major head-aches for the customers and for cable operators. Not because it may reveal protocol filtering but because the end users will treat this tool like it is gospel. Especially for the last mile diagnosis. It is EASY to determine where a network slow-down occurs if you know how to run PING and TRACERT. A simple packet tool will help you discover where the problems are. You average cable technician can diagnose and repair most impairments that cause packet loss and slow speeds in a matter of minutes. Having a tool that does it for the end user is not a good idea IMO. You will have end users that think the tool is correct even if it can be proven that it is flawed OR that the problem is NOT where the tool says that it is.

    On the network neutrality note: The cable operators build and maintain these networks at a high cost... who the hell says they should be "neutral" and free. It's the MSO's perogative to operate the network any way they deem fit since they have you agree to the user agreement. They paid to build it, they pay to maintain it, you pay them to use it and you use it on their terms... its pretty easy really.
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  • Well, since we pay for it, we should get what we pay for, not some extra rule that you stick in whenever you want. Since you can actually run networks at higher speed than you do now but want us to pay more when we should be getting more speed for the same money as time goes on, then I think you're actually already effectively throttling down everyone anyway.

    Remember how speed increases kept occurring when modems came out. Then we all switched to adsl and the like. That's when speeds leveled out. But the technology has keep getting better, only not the speeds. Something's fishy here. And what it is is that there is no real competition when it comes to ISPs. If there were, they'd all be fighting to give us more speed and more ul/dl per our dollar. They aren't because they know we have no choice anymore since we don't own the technology (like the old phone modems) to allow competition. Therefore we are in a trust or a monopoly situation which is abusive to the consumer. That's why our speeds haven't gone up.

    I bet those that run Verizon and Comcast took nice bonuses recently too. Maybe that's why you're carping about the cost of operating the network. I don't see any investment in new or faster infrastructure though. Money isn't going to that, it's going elsewhere.

    I believe we need better standards pushed from reputable, non-industry funded scientists. The government money should be spend on the technological infrastructure since this ultimately is a benefit to all of us. Yes the companies put a lot of money into the current infrastructure but so did much of my tax money too. So, I own it too, at least in part.

    You know, when monopolies and trusts run things, it's really time for nationalization. We'd be there right now with higher speeds if we hadn't broken up the good monopoly that existed, Ma Bell. You see, corporate monopolies are bad; that's not the case with government monopolies if they are run intelligently. Ma Bell was. And we have a functioning internet because of the government too, not because of Comcast and Verizon, the recipients of someones' else's labor in that technology.
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  • muffie
    I completey agree with 333. We pay for the service so we should get what we pay for. Do you buy a new car, and then a week later have the cars company come and tune your engine so you get less gas mileage? Nah I didn't think so.
    On another note, Japan pays the same for 100mb as we pay for 10mb, does that make sense to you?
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  • Kary
    MuffieOn another note, Japan pays the same for 100mb as we pay for 10mb, does that make sense to you?Ummm, yes, actually it does. Japan small/heavily populated. America huge/large rural areas that need to be covered by ISPs in addition to the major cities.

    I'm not saying that ISP's aren't stiffing us just the same, but a comparison between the US and Japan is just hard to justify
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  • Grims
    KaryUmmm, yes, actually it does. Japan small/heavily populated. America huge/large rural areas that need to be covered by ISPs in addition to the major cities.I'm not saying that ISP's aren't stiffing us just the same, but a comparison between the US and Japan is just hard to justify
    Agreed...accept. Why don't even large metropolitan areas have service to match Japans?
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  • Tindytim
    anonymous333You know, when monopolies and trusts run things, it's really time for nationalization. We'd be there right now with higher speeds if we hadn't broken up the good monopoly that existed, Ma Bell. You see, corporate monopolies are bad; that's not the case with government monopolies if they are run intelligently. Ma Bell was. And we have a functioning internet because of the government too, not because of Comcast and Verizon, the recipients of someones' else's labor in that technology.You really had something going until you said this. Nationalization of anything is about as bad as you can get. Sure, it sounds good on paper, but the fact of the matter is, the Government doesn't have a bottom line.

    Normally if a business has inefficient practices that waste resources, the business will go out of business. But the government can't go bankrupt like another business, and as such, they don't need to be quick or expedient.

    What should be happening, is we should be breaking up the monopolies, like we'd do with any other monopoly.
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  • antilycus
    the difference is that we are the U.S. the most, self centered, greedy country on the planet. We look out for ourselves, end of story...
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  • average joe
    As a net admin in a rural area I am often frustrated by the near monopoly the local provides have established. Prior to this I was located in the Seattle area. I often have to accept a quality of service which I would be totally unacceptable in an Urban area. I pay almost 20,000 a month for my connections and experience about one outage a week. For that kind of money I would hope that they would actually maintain their lines. A lot of the line is still original 1940's & 50's analog equipment. I had to set up custom static routing tables with 7 different Telco's just to reliably send a fax from one branch location to another unless I could find a fax machine built before 1980. I've only been here 2 years now but I am sure we had called the telco a few times about it since 1980. My expensive Telco's did not deem it important enough to replace anything or offer a solution.

    I used to be a lineman so I have a great respect for what they do. Every line man I know is chomping on the bit to rebuild the whole system and to upgraded everything but management always says no. It's painfully obvious to me that a lot of the Big Wigs in in these little companies aren't spending anything on maintence and have no intention of performing any upgrades. They know the are the only telco in town and even if you think you're switching providers they own the lines those providers use. I am beginning to suspect that they figure if they do nothing for long enough --the government will step in and pay for everything. More money in their pockets.
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  • crockdaddy
    the difference is that we are the U.S. the most, self centered, greedy country on the planet. We look out for ourselves, end of story...


    What is the point of this comment? Are you saying that no other country is not self centered and greedy for its own people???? The US while far from perfect is one of the more inclusive societies on Earth. Granted each new immigrant has to make it over the *hump* of discrimination, but once completed and melted into the pot they add to the whole.

    Oh and by the way, every country looks out for itself. How shocking is that concept? Quit it with your self hatred. It is not healthy.
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  • NuclearShadow
    Great Measurement Lab won't even load for me. I keep getting a network timeout error while everything else goes fine. Please tell me the website is down and that its not my ISP causing this.
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