updated 01:00 am EDT, Tue August 5, 2008
Switzerland ISP neutrality
Following closely on dissent towards Comcast and AT&T – two firms that supply internet service, but lack a stance of network data neutrality – the Electronic Frontier Foundation has unveiled Switzerland, a new ISP testing tool that detects blocked communications. Comcast is accused of blocking peer-to-peer networking software, such as BitTorrent, without citing the practice in its license agreement or making any other mention of it whatsoever. The action counters the neutral stance put forth by the FCC in its 2005 "Internet Policy Statement."
The tool comes as an apparent world-first, allowing users to determine whether information is being censored or otherwise inhibited by firewalls, ISPs, hackers, or others.
"Until now, there hasn't been a reliable way to tell if somebody -- a hacker, an ISP, corporate firewall, or the Great Firewall of China -- is modifying your Internet traffic en route," said Peter Eckersley, EFF Staff Technologist and designer of Switzerland. "The few tests available have been for narrow and specific kinds of interference, or have required tremendous amounts of advanced forensic labor. Switzerland is designed to make general-purpose ISP testing faster and easier."
The tool is based around an open source, command line-driven interface, detecting modification or termination of data packets as they are sent between two sources.