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Subject: [IP] more on Verizon "Broadband Router" the perfect Trojan Horse

  • From: David Farber <>
  • To:
  • Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2006 08:42:46 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Frankston <>
Date: June 29, 2006 8:41:12 PM EDT
Cc: &quot;'David P. Reed'&quot; <>
Subject: RE: [IP] more on Verizon &quot;Broadband Router&quot; the perfect Trojan Horse

Ideally NN is really an expression of basic antitrust principles. The problem is that the current Regulatorium has companies fund our common infrastructure by selling services. Were this an effective marketplace this wouldn&#x2019;t be an issue because we wouldn&#x2019;t have gatekeepers.

I see NN as a principle rather than as something that can be legislated. Ideally the FTC should be able to apply antitrust principles but the FCC is, in a sense, an anti-enforcer. The fact that the carriers control how we communicate or speech makes it also a free speech issue but we can put the emphasis on the antitrust principles.

This is why I keep arguing for infrastructure as the framing model &#x2013; trying to legislate corporations&#x2019; internal behavior is impossible because the nature of the business is implicit in every decision. But NN is useful to emphasize that the carriers have a responsibility as long as they are given such control over our infrastructure.

The good news, as David notes, many of the worst excesses won&#x2019;t for other reasons.

But &#x2026; there is a big exception &#x2026; the entire cellular industry started out smart software that has become smarter. They have control and, as I point out in their fear is that they may lose their control once people realize they don&#x2019;t need a gatekeeper in order to communicate. NN works best preventing new excesses than correcting old ones.

NN is a basically a parent saying &#x201C;No No&#x201D; to children who need to learn that the universe doesn&#x2019;t revolve around them.

-----Original Message-----
From: David Farber []
Sent: Thursday, June 29, 2006 19:45
Subject: [IP] more on Verizon &#x201C;Broadband Router&#x201D; the perfect Trojan Horse

and if some company finds a good use for the capability, under a NN law, who will decide if it violates the law&#x2014;the FCC/FTC?

A wise company will not offer any capability that could be mis-used even if just someone just thinks of the possility.


Begin forwarded message:

From:   &#x201C;David P. Reed&#x201D; <>

Date:    June 29, 2006 6:22:35 PM EDT

To:       &#x201C;David P. Reed&#x201D; <>

Cc:       David Farber <>, Dewayne-Net Technology List


Subject: Re: Verizon &#x201C;Broadband Router&#x201D; the perfect Trojan Horse

Some of the reaction to my earlier note suggests that people thought I had discovered Verizon actually doing something bad. I did not mean in any way to imply that, so I hope if you have forwarded my earlier note you will pass on this clarification.

My comment was based on studying the TR-069 standard, *in the context of the current &#x201C;Net Neutrality&#x201D; debate* in which both I and Verizon are involved, and noting that it is possible to exploit the features of that standard to redirect traffic and monitor traffic under the control of the access provider.

I do not mean that the router itself is a bad product, or that it has no good purpose. I also am not accusing Verizon of actually doing those things that I worry about - I have no such evidence.

But the possibility is real, and we have no assurances from Verizon or other providers that they will not exploit those possibilities. (In fact, many in the Net Neutrality debate who claim to be acting for the Bells seem to be arguing that it will be necessary and appropriate for Verizon to do so.)

I would hope that Verizon would make a clear policy statement about what it will do to make sure that such features are not used inappropriately.

It is surely a good thing for router equipment to provide facilities for remote diagnosis and maintenence. When communications equipment is concerned, such tools need to be used with care, however. The data being carried is sensitive and personal, and is NOT the property of the carrier of the data. It may not even be the case that the user has the right to disclose the data in question (as is the case in HIPAA and European data protection regimes).

Thus features that redirect, block, and otherwise interfere with communications must be used carefully, with clear authorization from all concerned parties, and (here it is my opinion only) with recognition that the the users&#x2019; communications belong to the users and their counterparties, not the operator of the communications system.

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