Telstra's Anti-Piracy Throttling Trial Raises ACCC Eyebrows

Telstra, like any internet service provider, would love to stop piracy. That's why it's trialling technologies like packet inspection and throttling of peer-to-peer content sent over its network. But not so fast, Telstra. The ACCC wants a word before you do anything to damage good, old net neutrality.

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, chairman of the ACCC, Rod Sims, said that Telstra's trial of its packet inspection and especially fiddling about with speed limiting of different traffic might mess with net neutrality, especially if Telstra demotes some network traffic in favour of its own:

Clearly there is a vertical integration issue where internet service providers can control what comes down their pipe and obviously if, unrelated to the reports about Telstra, we see that ISPs were using that technology to influence their own content over other content then that would be of concern to us.

Telstra continues to assure customers that it's only testing the new anti-piracy measures right now to see what's best for its network.

Read the full interview on the AFR for more.

Would this make you leave your ISP if it were rolled out for everyone? [AFR]



    I'd cancel a subscription with my ISP immediately.

      Why? Just go to your torrent client torrent, and tick the encryption box, There goes all of Telstra's efforts.

      Can't block what you can't see.

      Last edited 12/02/13 12:35 pm

        They identify the behavior of the traffic, not the contents.

          You can't really limit by behaviour either..
          A lot of Video games and other legit products use torrent like P2P technologies to provide software patching, in turn taking the load off their own gateways and servers.
          VPN is still your best option in terms of keeping out prying eyes..

        I don't like the idea of it whatsoever, if they're receptive to this, then it's not a stretch to assume they'll implement other things. Zero tolerance is the only way for me, I don't pay money for them to inspect and shape my traffic depending on usage.

        while this will stop their "packet inspection" it won't stop the speed limiting, peer-to-peer traffic is easy to identify.

        !! IMPORTANT !!

        This does not work as Daniel has mentioned - all it does is obscure what you are downloading, not the type of protocol you are using. Telstra will still be able to see you are torrenting traffic.

        If you have an issue with what Telstra is trying to do (as i do, even though i am a big supporter of them), let them know you will cancel your subscription if they go ahead with this. I will cancel mine if they do.

        !! IMPORTANT !!

        Hey could you explain exactly how I do this? Slightly tech challenged but I'm Telstra & all of a sudden I now can't open piratebay site, it diverts me to bigpond... Any advice?

    The ethics of piracy aside, I think an ISP being against piracy is a bit of a foot shot. I mean, who would seriously use 500GB a month download if they WEREN'T pirating stuff? Do they want all their biggest paying customers to downgrade their services to 20GB a month accounts because they have no need for big usage accounts anymore?

      I have friends who video conference every single day for their home businesses, audio engineer, transfer files etc. One of them uploaded over 350gb in high quality audio/visual and downloaded 1.2tb last month alone in video files from overseas (all legal, all for work) (asked for the stats after reading your comment lol). While GUARANTEED those people ARE in the minority, absolutely, there's still the fact legitimate heavy users exist and Telstra would be risking punishing people like this because of others...

      Where I use to work a small business run out of a home, we would easily go through 300gb+ a month working remotely and shifting files via FTP to the remote web server and other such things. So yes plenty of people. Also I can easily cap myself by downloading about 6 games in my Steam list, one being Max Payne 3 which is 30gb. It's not hard in this day and age =/

        Technically you're breaching the TOS of your home plan, and should be on a business plan.

          I don't know what they had, they might've had a business plan. Probably did. But we regularly went over the limit.

          Who said they were using a 'home plan'?

      This was my thought exactly. They arent like a lot of the US services where they have a paid streaming service they arent making money on because of pirating. I just wish they would give us access to a decent priced service and this really could go away for the most part.

        Telstra own Foxtel and bigpond movies. You can stream these through a T-Box, or foxtel only through an Xbox. They do have paid services they want you using instead of pirating.

      Although part of bandwidth is allocated to downloading media, the biggest single use is dropbox. I think this will become increasingly common as work and home blur further.

      I use 500GB per month in an entirely legal manner. Streaming HD content I legally paid for from NBA.COM, iTunes and NETFLIX. I also have automatic updates on 3 linux boxes; 2 windows machines and 1 Macbook air - all for development purposes. I work on projects that sync via collaboration software that can easily be 2-5 GB per sync. Sometimes the Linux updates are 10gb + a month alone. The fact I have to justify this to people like you makes me worried and frankly it's none of your business.

        Legally? You're breaching Netflix TOS.

          Atually it's a commercial account - I'm not breaching any of their ToS. Their ToS are totally different for developing when they are a paying customer. Additionally, even if a home user WAS breaching Netflix ToS how is that an ISP's business?

        You didn't "have to justify" shit mate. No one made you comment. If it's none of my business, why did you freely offer up information that I didn't actually ask for in the first place? Pull ya head in. I was making an honest comment that was not a personal attack directed ONLY AT YOU.

        I'm a professional photographer. I host 4 of my own websites, my own email server, have about 6 linux machines that all need updates and push 100s of large image files every day. I have not once even come close to breaching my 250GB limit.

        So EXCUSE ME for having an opinion and failing to see how much data other people push.

          I know it wasn't directly aimed at me - I was demonstrating that as a somewhat normal internet user we can hit BIG download limits legally. Also out of interest are you developing Linux? the daily updates for unstable stuff on Linux all adds up trust me.

          I wasn't intending to attack you, it's Telstra who is at fault here. Sorry if it came across that way.

      Have you heard if IP TV streaming? It chews up a lot of data. So yes that 500GB a month gets used up pretty quick. So not everyone with huge download quotas is pirating stuff.

        Luckily they have their totally unmetered Foxtel on T-Box for your IPTV - so instead of getting throttled trying to use their competitors why not just give them more of your money?

        It is a massive issue in my view that Telstra offer unmetered access to their services while metering that of their competition - and the problem is only going to get worse in the future. We need true net neutrality even if it means I lose nice things like unmetered iView/streaming radio from Internode - the access to the pipe needs to be on an even basis.

      I agree with your foot shot comment.

      All tech, pirate and justifiable use talk aside, Telstra are being "Indian-givers".

      We'll offer and agree let you pay for a full 500Gb account, but we will take it away by throttling it whenever we feel like it. Further, we will take it away automatically if we judge you are using it too much, too frequently and at any of the times we don't like you using it.

      All because we are too cheap to deliver on what we offered you under contract in the first place.


    I'm with Telstra Business. If this were to be rolled out to me, I'd be gone in an instant. Bittorrent might be mainly used for downloading copyrighted content, but there are significant non-infringing uses too.

      So true. I would really like to see BitTorrent evolve to give more anonymity to the peers. There is another similar BitTorrent like service (i forget the name of it), which encrypts all traffic by default and hides the users that are downloading from it.

    Hopefully the ACCC get up their ass.

      .. and the rest of the ISPs that have been doing this for years.

        Yes, but the rest of the ISP don't have about 50% of the market share or more to themselves like Telstra have.

    Telstra, "Here have 500Gb of downloads!"*

    *Don't use it though, because we'll immediately suspect you of doing illegal stuff and don't want your kind on our network,

    Non piracy related uses of bit torrent are increasing every day.
    You have game updaters that use p2p to speed things up, many indy games/apps giving you the option of downloading via torrent, I got the latest Ubuntu Linux distro from their main website via torrent, services like Hola peer traffic to speed things up, and so on.

    P2P is a methodology that reduces strain on servers, and speeds things up for everyone.
    It is a technology that should be embraced, not frowned upon.

      As far as the ISP is concerned. Its none of their business what I use the data I pay them for.

      Their business strategy is flawed. Why not just upgrade the network ?

    Typical Telstra, Blaming their customers for their below acceptable infrastructure.

    I get why they are doing it, because they do not have the capacity to serve data hungry clients and web surfers at the same time. The web surfer gets impact because someone wants to download large files. But here is the kicker: They both are paying for the same service. If they guarantee that they are going to offer you a service and don't do it, they are in the wrong.

    TLDR: Fix your network Telstra and stop blaming others for your lack of investment in infrastructure.

    Cheap ass**les

    There's no 'real' reason that Telstra would spend time and money using these systems.

    This is pure pressure from copyright groups and the media industry.

    If they let me use Netflix or other streaming in Aus, I wouldn't need to download anything peer to peer.

    Hell, I'd probably increase my download cap with Telstra.

    I thought iiNet gave negative f*%k's about internet piracy?

      iiNet do not condone piracy. However, it is not up to the ISP to police its users.

    Internode FTW

      Who charge 50% more than Telstra in a "regional" area, ftw indeed!

        Regional people are now using city tax dollars to get NBN. Those who live in Regional areas do not 'deserve' cheap net, or cheap anything. No one deserves cheap anything, city or country. Those that live in regional areas have to deal with the fact they live away from the majority of people, scales of economy mean things will be more expensive. They chose to live there, apparently country folk are strong, so man up and deal with it. My meat and milk is isn't fresh... do I carry on like a pork chop? (pun intended) No.

        Last edited 12/02/13 10:01 pm

          I'm 22km from Brisbane and am considered regional. When I check the NBN site I see that I have to wait till 2015 for my area to be hooked up. By the time I get access most of the suburbs of Brisbane will already have it. These are the same suburbs that already have both Optus and Telstra cable running buy as well as multiple ADSL 2 choices. My choices at the moment are Telstra or off net Telstra through another ISP. I'm happy to live with these choices and the wait if it means that I don't have to live in the city with the likes of you and your ignorant comments regarding city tax dollars.

          Mate, I live on southern tip of the Gold Coast, we are considered regional, when less than 5km's away is considered metropolitan all because they have coaxial cable in the ground and Optus also have cable in the ground there.

          In my general area it goes from ADSL2+ to Next G pretty quickly, and in the parts where it's 3G/Next G only it's over capacity and never works as intended.

          I'm not saying i'm not happy with what I get in the way of an internet connection. I was simply stating how over priced Internode is and how they consider us regional especially when we are in an area that is part of one of the countries larger non capital cities :)

            I'm 4 Km from Sydney CBD, my area is as yet undefined for NBN, which means it will be years. It sucks but I understand this is a huge project. If I must have it now I can move. If you don't like the local infrastructure move, its your right to live anywhere in the land. Until recently my ADSL speeds weren't very good because the amount of people in the area. They recently upgraded the exchange so its better, they did this because there are a lot of people so they will get their money back for the investment.

          I live 400km from Melbourne. A while ago the Telstra exchange in the neighbouring rural city burned down knocking out landline phones and internet for a week. Life is surprisingly painful without Eftpos or ATMs (especially when you never really use or have money on you). We got 3G back after about a day, but it was pretty congested and slow as shit for a while. Took two to three weeks for services to return fully. Some of the smaller towns were left without 000 for up to seven hours.

          But you know, s'cool. We're in no need of alternatives or anything. After all, these inconveniences are just ours to life with. Sorry to waste your city tax dollars.

            Fibre,copper,wireless it doesn't matter, Floods, fires and earthquakes decimate infrastructure. Where are they laying new infrastructure? Right next to the old. There is only so much capacity in this country to meet the demands of repair in these circumstances due to the vastness of the damage and the remoteness of some of the localities. is it ideal? No, but its the reality none the less. It should be better but its going to take time and lots of money to do it. Hence why regional areas pay more

              It wasn't a natural disaster. It was a building fire. The building just happened to be the exchange.

                Well that's a case of shitty bad luck and Telstra being slack (as per usual).

    quote " Streaming HD content I legally paid for from NBA.COM, iTunes and NETFLIX"

    How are you streaming netflix from Australia? thats just as illegal as torrenting pirated material.

      Actually, I posted on how commercial accounts can legally use Netflix, it depends where you work and who you work for.

    I'm getting sick and tired having to justify data usage to retards.

    P2P isn't illegal, why would Telstra penalize customers for the method of file transfer they use?

    It's not logical...

      It's like saying that you are a member of a criminal bike gang just because you ride a motorbike, or that you are 7 years old because you play Xbox.

      Telstra: "OH NO! People who torrent are pirates, and torrents are only pitated files! Ban it all!"

    You would think implementing deep packet inspection framework would be very expensive and processor intensive. Wouldnt it cost them more money?

    The ACCC wants a word before you do anything to damage good, old net neutrality.Wait - we have net neutrality in Oz? Then how come so many companies (mostly for mobile broadband) get away with blocking or throttling P2P traffic? Or prioritising VoIP above all other data?

    Maybe I have the wrong idea of what "net neutrality" means?

    You can't stop bad things like piracy with out destroying net neutrality it's just one of many problems we are going to have to live with if we value net neutrality.

    If an ISP chooses to spy on it's own customers it will just lose them I know I would leave Telstra if it started doing that not that I have anything to hide it's just rude.

    Oh Telstra, how I hate thee. Lucky for them I can't TPG at my address....

    The main problem they seem to have is that they think EVERY torrent is bad, and they don't acknowledge that piracy can come by other means (File Sharing sites like the now defunct megaupload for example). So it's best to try and compete with piracy, not stop it.

    Either way, IMO more companies (ISP's included), should do something like Kim Dotcom and his proposed MegaMovie service. The idea for that is you basically get free movies by having advertisement targeted at you.
    That's not to say I like or don't like the way he is doing it, but just the general idea is something that should be taken note of......

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