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posted by janrinok on Monday September 15 2014, @10:12PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the don't-they-have-to-prove-that-you-are-doing-something-illegal-first? dept.

Business Insider reports that multiple users of anonymous web browser Tor have reported that Comcast has threatened to cut off their internet service unless they stop using the software. Comcast has reportedly begun telling users that it is an "illegal service." One Comcast representative, identified only as Kelly, warned a customer over his use of Tor software: "Users who try to use anonymity, or cover themselves up on the internet, are usually doing things that aren’t so-to-speak legal. We have the right to terminate, fine, or suspend your account at anytime due to you violating the rules." In a statement to Deepdotweb, Comcast defended its actions, seemingly asserting that it needs to be able to monitor internet traffic in case they receive a court order:

We respect customer privacy and security and would only investigate the specifics of a customer’s account with a valid court order. And if we’re asked by a court to provide customer information, then we ask for a reasonable amount of time to notify the customer so they can decide if they would like to hire a lawyer and if they do, then we turn the case over to them and they proceed with the judge directly and we step away.

24 hours later, and Comcast denies that it will cut off Tor users, or , as the article sub-title reads: "The Web Browser For Criminals". Comcast further claim that they have initiated an internal review to find out why the Comcast employee made the statement in the first instance. They state:

Customers are free to use their Xfinity Internet service to visit any website or use it however they wish otherwise. Like virtually all ISPs, Comcast has an acceptable use policy or AUP that outlines appropriate and inappropriate uses of the service. Comcast doesn’t monitor users’ browser software or web surfing and has no program addressing the Tor browser. The anecdotal chat room evidence provided is not consistent with our agents’ messages and is not accurate. Per our own internal review, we have found no evidence that these conversations took place, nor do we employ a Security Assurance team member named Kelly. Tor’s own FAQs clearly state: 'File sharing (peer-to-peer/P2P) is widely unwanted on Tor' and 'BitTorrent is NOT anonymous' on Tor.

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  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15 2014, @10:20PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15 2014, @10:20PM (#93679)

    Three days from now, you will be asked a simple question: 'Should Soylent be an independent website?' If you care about about the future of this great society, vote 'No'.

    There are those who try to convince you to vote in favour of this horrid proposal. They tempt you with lucre, seduce you with bacon, and will lead you astray. Beware of wolves who come in soy clothing.

    But don't just take my word for it. Listen to Joanna Lumley, to Janette Tough. They all know that an independent Soylent, though in principle a noble aspiration, is nonviable. Support the common good, do not aid our common downfall.

    Come Thursday, do the right thing. Vote 'No'.

    -- LentilSoupIsMentalFruit

    • (Score: 0, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15 2014, @10:27PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15 2014, @10:27PM (#93684)

      That was funny the first time, but cut-n-pasting the same off-topic post is lame.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15 2014, @10:37PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15 2014, @10:37PM (#93694)

    it needs to be able to monitor internet traffic in case they receive a court order

    Hear that? They're asking to be classified as Common Carriers so they no longer have to worry about this inconvenient, expensive burden!

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by lentilla on Tuesday September 16 2014, @05:08AM

      by lentilla (1770) on Tuesday September 16 2014, @05:08AM (#93851)

      it needs to be able to monitor internet traffic in case they receive a court order

      Funny, that happens to be the same reason I encrypt everything.

      I am not a criminal and; as such; my private communications remain my own business. I do not intend to make it easy to find those "six lines" [wikiquote.org] in all the millions I write in my lifetime.

      • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Tuesday September 16 2014, @04:19PM

        by Freeman (732) on Tuesday September 16 2014, @04:19PM (#94096) Journal

        Monitoring internet traffic will consistently catch the small-fry and very rarely catch any big fish. What monitoring internet traffic does do, is invade the privacy of hundreds of millions of Americans. When this kind of thing comes up, I always remember the quote from Benjamin Franklin. "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." It probably sticks in my mind, because a variation of the quote is used in Sid Meier's Civilization IV. Civilization II was a timeless classic, but Civilization was a great replacement. Perhaps, if only in part that Sid Meier got Leonard Nimoy to do the quotations.

        --
        "I said in my haste, All men are liars." Psalm 116:11
        • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Tuesday September 16 2014, @04:22PM

          by Freeman (732) on Tuesday September 16 2014, @04:22PM (#94099) Journal

          ..."Civilization IV" was a great replacement...

          --
          "I said in my haste, All men are liars." Psalm 116:11
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by frojack on Monday September 15 2014, @10:56PM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 15 2014, @10:56PM (#93701) Journal

    In spite of stating they have no Security Assurance team member named Kelly, (your first clue the whole story was fabricated) and they deny it ever happened, and no one has shown even one credible shred of evidence that this ever happened, such as a screen shot or a log,

    YOU jump right in and STATE in your title that Comcast DID it, and compounded the offense by DENYING it. How dare anyone claim their innocent. Doesn't everyone know that denial is the first sure sign of Guilt?

    Then YOU state the BI reported Multiple Users making this claim when there was precisely ONE, and all their links pointed to that single posting.

    Why did you do this? Why didn't you do a little more research and post the story in a less one-sided way?

    If you need some help in this area read the coverage on Ars: http://arstechnica.com/business/2014/09/comcast-calls-rumor-that-it-disconnects-tor-users-wildly-inaccurate/ [arstechnica.com]
    or El Reg: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/09/15/comcast_were_not_blocking_tor_and_use_it_ourselves/ [theregister.co.uk]

    --
    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by Nerdfest on Monday September 15 2014, @10:59PM

      by Nerdfest (80) on Monday September 15 2014, @10:59PM (#93703)

      post the story in a less one-sided way?

      In their defence, this is Comcast we're talking about.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by aristarchus on Tuesday September 16 2014, @01:02AM

        by aristarchus (2645) on Tuesday September 16 2014, @01:02AM (#93749) Journal

        post the story in a less one-sided way?

        In their defence, this is Comcast we're talking about.

        Meaning, there is only one side, and it is dark, very dark.

        --
        Someone please explain to Hemo that my AC posts never get moderated because no one understands them. (Stolen AC sig. )
      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 16 2014, @03:00PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 16 2014, @03:00PM (#94039)

        The other day I walked down a city street and heard someone screaming "You f**** asshole!" into their phone. I said to him, "Buddy, can you take your discussion with Comcast indoors?"

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Lagg on Monday September 15 2014, @11:15PM

      by Lagg (105) on Monday September 15 2014, @11:15PM (#93711) Homepage Journal

      This stuff is why I wish he would quit doing this or at least reply to comments on both sites that he cross posts on. Anyway, hopefully this doesn't get out of hand and dilute the plethora of other instances of calling comcast out on its asshattery.

      --
      http://lagg.me [lagg.me] 🗿
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15 2014, @11:18PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15 2014, @11:18PM (#93712)

        The story isn't over yet. So far we have a he-said she-said where neither side has a reliable reputation to judge on and both sides have incentive to lie - the accusations come from someone with no particular record and the denials come from a company with a terrible record and a big-money PR team.

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by dyingtolive on Tuesday September 16 2014, @01:11AM

        by dyingtolive (952) on Tuesday September 16 2014, @01:11AM (#93754)

        I know. Why, think of the potential damage to the company's reputation!

        --
        Don't blame me, I voted for moose wang!
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by dltaylor on Tuesday September 16 2014, @01:37AM

    by dltaylor (4693) on Tuesday September 16 2014, @01:37AM (#93766)

    In some businesses, having a customer service reputation so bad that this kind of {potential prank|real threat} is widely believed would prompt someone to try to improve the reputation. In Comcast case, OTOH, this is the first time I can remember that they have even tried to deny imposing unconscionable terms on a user.

    Still hoping that Comcast is NOT allowed to take over TWC.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Natales on Tuesday September 16 2014, @02:38PM

    by Natales (2163) on Tuesday September 16 2014, @02:38PM (#94026)
    I figured that, at the very least, Tor use was going to be specially monitored, tracked and logged, so I configured my environment to start a VPN VM first (I use Qubes [qubes-os.org] for my main private desktop OS), connected to either a multi-hop entry or a random access point at one of my VPN providers (I use both, iVPN [ivpn.net] and AirVPN [airvpn.org]), and then, and only then, start the Tor VM. All other VMs that require privacy and anonymity run behind the Tor VM at that point, so all traffic is "torified" by default without my ISP even knowing about this. Until they start throttling VPNs or requiring private keys (which will never fly) this is the safest way to operate a secure environment without raising flags.
  • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Tuesday September 16 2014, @07:46PM

    by darkfeline (1030) on Tuesday September 16 2014, @07:46PM (#94186) Homepage

    >nor do we employ a Security Assurance team member named Kelly.

    And I'm sure they don't, as of last week retroactively.

    --
    Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by everdred on Tuesday September 16 2014, @08:33PM

    by everdred (110) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 16 2014, @08:33PM (#94211) Homepage Journal

    If this is fabricated and Comcast didn't have a stated policy about Tor before, someone got Comcast to unequivocally go on record saying that it's allowed.