EFF Develops New Software to Monitor ISP Net-Neutrality

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is developing software that will allow PC and Mac users to monitor an ISPis compliance with net-neutrality. Other groups are joining in.

"When you sign up for an Internet connection, you expect it to actually be an Internet connection. You expect that you can run whatever applications and protocols you choose over the link, or indeed that you can write your own software and run that," the announcement said.

"There is a disturbing trend, however, of ISPs stepping in to meddle with your communications, deciding that some applications and protocols are more suitable than others. Or deciding that they can inject advertisements into your queries for domain names, or your browseris exchanges with web sites. Or deciding that encrypted traffic should be throttled across the board."

The EFF page described the various methods for monitoring and evaluating traffic. Then there was a list of software, in development, by several organizations, that allows the customer to assess compliance.

The EFFis release is called pcapdiff. Itis written in Python, and an EFF representative told TMO that it should run on a Mac. However, it does require some technical knowledge to exploit properly. The Gemini Project in Italy has a package that runs only on PCs. Again, if a Mac user is running Windows on an Intel system, it should work.

"Vuze, the company formed around the Azureus BitTorrent client, has released a plugin that counts the number of RST packets sent to your BT client. These statistics are interesting, but remember that there are legitimate RST packets, and the presence of TCP RSTs isnit evidence that they were spoofed by an intermediary," the EFF said. Azureus is written in Java, so the plug-in will probably work on a Mac the EFF said. The same goes for the MPI-SWS browser applet.

This may just the beginning of an emerging market for both Mac and PCs users. As the EFF stated, customers expect to get what theyire paying for, unfettered Internet access. When many, many customers start to become armed with these tools, it will be more difficult for ISPs to deceptively manage Internet traffic for their own ends.