21 Nov 2008

CRTC begins dialogue on traffic shaping

Yesterday, the CRTC rendered its decision on ISP’s traffic shaping practices. It announced that it was denying the Canadian Internet Service Providers’ (CAIP) request that Bell Canada, which provides wholesale ADSL services to smaller ISPs across the country, cease the traffic-shaping practices it has adopted for its wholesale customers.

“Based on the evidence before us, we found that the measures employed by Bell Canada to manage its network were not discriminatory. Bell Canada applied the same traffic-shaping practices to wholesale customers as it did to its own retail customers,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC.

Moreover, the CRTC recognized that traffic-shaping “raises a number of questions” for both end-users and ISPs and has decided to hold a public hearing next July to consider them.

We’ll be following the public hearing closely, and here’s why: Internet traffic management requires the use of can use deep packet inspection (DPI) technology – technology that can “read” packets of information flowing through the Internet. In this case, packets are being read to identify specific Internet activities – like the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing applications. That same technology can be used to read a whole lot more about what you do on the Internet: what you’re watching, downloading or reading, who you’re talking to, what you’re saying, as well as where you are and who you are.

As we’ve mentioned on this blog, our office is already looking into a complaint about DPI and we expect to have a decision soon.

The time has come for net neutrality, both as an economic and a social policy issue, to be examined by the Canadian government. And we look forward to being a part of that discussion.

11 Responses

Art Reisman Says:

“We’ll be following the public hearing closely, and here’s why: Internet traffic management requires the use of deep packet inspection (DPI) technology”

Please get your facts straight, ISPs can contain and control Internet Traffic without Deep Packet Inspection. Comcast the largest provider in the US has already dumped this practice adopting a fairness use policy that does not need to look inside packets to make decisions. We, http://www.netequalizer.com, also provide many small Canadian ISPs with equipment that controls traffic without DPI.

The only reason to continue to allow DPI would be to protect exsisting investments in the technology.

Art Reisman

Daphne Guerrero Says:

Hi Art,
Point taken – Internet traffic management doesn’t always mean using DPI, and I’ve amended the post to reflect that. In this particular complaint, Bell Canada did indicate that it uses DPI to implement its traffic-shaping.

Krisztian Szabo Says:

I’ll throw in as a network specialist that while Deep Packet inspection is not necessary it is required to guarantee what kind of content is blocked. Comcast, to continue the example, is still having issues with blocking non-P2P traffic due to the encrypted nature of the traffic. Encrypted data looks like encrypted data, and the result is corporate telecommuters and other people who use high end VPN’s are often caught in this catch all net.

Even with DPI this risk is reduced but not eliminated. At the end of the day discriminating against secure traffic on on a Tier 1 network is still sticky situation and Bell does provide a large portion of the backbone. That being the case, restrictions on any traffic being peered by a Tier 1 network is comparable to having someone on the street monitoring what ever says and clamping their hand on the mouth of someone who does not agree with them.

anon coward Says:

In reply to Art.

It should be noted that “netequalizer” also allows for the interception of data. “data mining”, as stated on their web page:
“* It will allow an ISP or other operator to comply with a basic warrant for information about a user by capturing and sending IP communications in real time to a third party.”

hmmmm Is it better?

Canada privacy commissioner flags DPI in Bell ruling Says:

[…] a social policy issue, to be examined by the Canadian government,” posts Daphne Guerrero on the privacy commissioner of Canada’s official blog, going on, “And we look forward to being a part of that […]

Jean-François Mezei Says:

What the privacy commissioner should consider in its decision is the fact that the CRTC has granted Bell Canada full power to change the configs of its DPI equipment and tell nobody unless the modifications pertain to performance, in which case Bell still has the right to make any changes they want, but must give 30 days notice.

Jean-François Mezei Says:

One has to remember that in the case of the GAS/HSA services, Bell Canada does not act as an ISP. It acts as a telecomminicatiosn company. There are implications of trust when the governmnet now allows a telco to discriminate between packets based on the packet’s payload.

This is similar to Bell Canada listening to any phone conversation and deciding that whenever it hears “Oh My God” spoken in a female voice, it will insert noise in the line to cause the parties to have to repeat sentences that were disrupted by the noise, and Bell would argue this is necessary because teenage girls speak too fast and overload its network.

Here, we have Bell listening on data exchanges, and when it spots packets belonging to some application it doesn’t like (Bell has refused to identify exactly what it is looking for), it kills 20% of packets being exchanged.

ISPs can shape their service as they want, and DPI equipment was meant to be used by ISPs.

But a telecom company is expected to provide the bandwidth which is purchased by customers and transparently move packets. DPI equpipment is incompatibel

In the case, Bell Canada is using DPI equipment to drop packets it doesn’t like (forcing time consuming retransmissions) and hence slow down links significantly, instead of providing the infrastructure to give the

Jim Hammond Says:

Manage the traffic all you want but snooping packets to determine the application layer is highly a concern for privacy. What else are they using this for. Reminds me of “Big Brother” reading all your snail mail or the Patriot Act, Carnivore etc.

P2P applications have legitimate purposes too.

Please stop them from spying on our personal data. It is not an ISP’s mandate to stop piracy – it is to sell and maintain linkage to the internet just as the postal service doesnt read my mail.

Net Neutrality enforcement and debate will it ever be settled? « NetEqualizer News Blog Says:

[…] Legally I see no difference between looking inside mail or looking inside Internet traffic.   The bloggers of this era when referring to Net Neutrality were most concerned with this sort of spying and playing god with […]

Office of the Privacy Commissioner » Blog Archive » CRTC Public Consultation on Internet Traffic Management Practices Says:

[…] a previous blog posting we discussed the CRTC decision and this new public consultation – which calls for written […]

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