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RealTime IT News

Net Neutrality Nightmare Come True?

Was Cox Communications, an ISP and online classifieds site, caught this week paying Internet security firm Authentium to block customer access to the free classifieds site Craigslist.org?

Or was it a case of a simple bug in the system?

Authentium's Ray Dickinson told internetnews.com that a blog post brought the problem to his company's attention and that they were already working on fixing it.

"This has nothing to do with policy," Dickinson said. "The glitches boil down to two technical issues. One on our end and one on theirs.

"The Craigslist server returns a TCP packet of zero window and our firewall driver doesn't handle that properly and all subsequent exchanges happen one byte at time."

"This is a technical glitch," he said. "It's a bug. It's a bug we're going to fix."

Cox communications spokesperson David Grabert likewise told internetnews.com his company did not intend to discriminate against Craigslist.

"Cox would definitely not intentionally block Craigslist or any legal Web site. We would never do that to our customers," Grabert said. "All ISPs have to manage traffic on their network. But we don't intentionally discriminate against any portal.

But net neutrality advocates could have sworn the apocalypse was coming.

Ever since a local ISP/phone company tried to block Voice-over-IP calls last year in North Carolina, net neutrality advocates warned this might happen again.

Allowing ISPs such as Cox to leverage their control of the Internet's "last mile" by blocking customer access to a competitor's site is exactly the nightmare scenario that has companies such as Google and Amazon spending money to argue their cases in Washington.

Grabert admitted his company is opposed to legislation that would make such discrimination illegal.

"We are opposed to legislated neutrality," he said. "The Internet has proliferated in a light regulatory environment, and we think it should continue to do so."