Telstra’s Plan to Break Net Neutrality

Pirate Party Australia is alarmed at reports that Telstra plans to slow the speed of peer-to-peer traffic which may involve the use of deep packet inspection (DPI) to determine data prioritisation[1].

Peer-to-peer networks are decentralised methods of distributing content, making them robust against server outages, and spreads the responsibility of serving content across the network rather than being limited by a single provider.

Many different applications rely on peer-to-peer connections, such as the telephone software Skype, and the updating software for popular games such as World of Warcraft. Deep packet inspection (DPI) involves examining each segment of data that is downloaded and uploaded by a computer connected to the Internet, effectively wiretapping your Internet connection.

Pirate Party Australia objects to the plans on the grounds that an Internet service provider (ISP) should remain as impartial as possible to the types of traffic flowing through their network, and the potential privacy concerns that DPI raises.

“Service providers should be impartial conduits of data, and should not be permitted to interfere with the access to certain types of content. Preferencing some traffic over others to funnel consumers into Telstra’s other content delivery platforms is symptomatic of a corporation attempting to stifle competition, innovation and equality of access,” said Rodney Serkowski, Treasurer of Pirate Party Australia.

“Businesses, educational institutions and the general public who rely upon the Internet should not sacrifice the quality of their access because their service provider wishes to prioritise other traffic that it considers more financially lucrative.”

“The blocking or throttling of peer-to-peer traffic is unjustifiably intrusive and is irreconcilable with notions of Internet freedom and net neutrality. Peer-to-peer protocols have perfectly legitimate and legal uses, and the legitimate sharing of information, culture and knowledge should never be discouraged,” Mr Serkowski continued.

Pirate Party Australia, which recently became a registered political party, will compete in the 2013 federal election. The Party’s platform includes a policy of ensuring telecommunications providers adhere to the principles of network neutrality[3].