Begin forwarded message:
From: "David P. Reed" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: June 29, 2006 12:20:09 PM EDT
Subject: Verizon "Broadband Router" the perfect Trojan Horse
Dewayne's list passed on this press announcement of a new "high speed
home router" that comes with its new FIOS service, allowing multiple
users to access the Internet over the FIOS fiber. This router is
described in the press release in terms of its speed and customer
support capabilities. Verizon carefully notes that it was designed
specifically for the FIOS users.
But this routhershould also be defined in terms of the "Trojan Horses"
that are embedded, designed by the DSL industry (i.e. the LECs captive
suppliers). The major one being the "Industry Standard TR-069" touted
at the top of the press release as a tool for customer support. But it
is far more than that.
I would note that "Industry Standard TR-069" is not hard to find on
the DSL Forum site.
However, a little (though not much) careful reading is required to
find the reasons why Verizon might like this standard.
For the worst example: I direct the reader to Appendix D. Appendix D
describes an architecture for intercepting web page requests from the
customer and redirecting them based on arbitrary policy choices. In
other words, the standard contains the perfect tool for controlling
every Internet access a customer (or the Internet-based equipment the
customer might choose to buy at a later time) might make, since
Verizon owns and controls the router.
Note that this router feature does not merely "prioritize" traffic.
This feature is promoted because it meddles with every web request you
make, redirecting some requests to special sites that are in a
business relationship with the owner (Verizon, I presume, here).
Rather than just forwarding packets, it can only work by singling out
and deeply inspecting every web page address you seek. The history of
the web requests will be selectively or entirely sent to servers on
Verizon's network, whether the customer agrees or not.
From an Internet point of view, this router is severely non-
standard. There is no Internet RFC that has been filed for the
protocol involved. Not even a draft RFC. The DSL Forum is an
organization that has no standing in the Internet community.
Verizon's description of the protocol as "industry standard" is
deceptive. It is a standard, from a very biased part of an Industry.
But it has not followed the normal route by which Internet protocols
are developed and deployed on a worldwide consensus basis. It violates
the basic principles of the Internet architecture as well, which have
created the most rapidly growing world-wide communications capability
in the history of civilization.
Verizon is perfectly within its rights to develop and deploy any
technology it wants to sell to customers, if that is what they choose
when fully informed of what they are buying. But it must acknowledge
that this equipment and its network are not giving customers access to
The Internet. Instead, Verizon is giving its customers access to a
private walled garden, with limited access to the Internet when and if
it suits Verizon's purposes.
In my personal opinion, putting this kind of technology in the path of
a service that claims to offer Internet access comes close to
*misappropriating* and distorting an important public good, called The
Internet, which was built by voluntary market cooperation and social
contribution, for private gain, and deceiving its customers in its
representations in the process.
You may not agree, but if you do find this a bit fishy, please share
this observation with your friends, and perhaps your US Senators as an
example of how companies like Verizon try to deceive their customers
and to exploit their government-granted monopoly power over their
customers by baiting them with speed, and reserving the right to
switch their communications to preferred substitutes.
You might also share with your friends the following link to a
proposed bill to protect the Internet from such redefinition by
vendors that pretend to sell Internet Access, but sell something else
instead: http://www.dpsproject.com/ .