Comcast as Big Brother / by kevin murray

In order to get onto the internet, you have to utilize an Internet Service Provider (ISP).  The biggest players in the field are Comcast, AT&T, Cablevision, Time-Warner, and Verizon.  This article deals specifically with Comcast only because they are my ISP provider, but I suspect that the other major ISPs behave in similar ways.  Each time that we utilize the internet our computer, or our network, is identified by an Internet Protocol (IP) Address which is unique to our computer network.  This IP Address is assigned by our ISP provider and although our IP Address doesn't have our actual name and address directly on it, that information is certainly known and can be provided by our ISP provider without our consent or knowledge. 


Clearly, our privacy is under assault and as always it starts with so-called "good intentions" in which the major media companies which have suffered under the loss of revenue from illegally pirated copies of movies, television programs, music and the like have joined forces with the major ISP providers to setup the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) and "through a progressive series of alerts called the Copyright Alert System (CAS), ISPs will make consumers aware of possible illegal activity that has occurred over peer-to-peer networks using their Internet accounts."  If that sounds innocent to you, it certainly isn't in any form or content whatsoever.  Essentially, the biggest media companies in the world want to turn the ISP that you utilize to access the internet against you and thereby to incriminate you by associating your IP address with you as a person.


There are two basic types of warnings that Comcast will issue.  The first warning type which I believe can pretty much be ignored, is the "Notice of Claim of Copyright Infringement", in which you are admonished to not infringed upon copyrighted works.  Therefore the first warning type is really just a shot across the bow, however, the second warning type is the dreaded:  "Alert #1: Potentially Improper Use of Copyrighted Material" which is the real deal when it comes to alleged copyright infringement and the alert number which is part of that heading certainly counts against you.  To date, I have received two alerts against me, and you are allowed a total of six alerts under this Copyright Alert System (CAS) before you are subject to some sort of punishment in which the most likely sanction is that your connection speed will slow down to a crawl for some period of time to be determined by your ISP, but the penaltyt meted out to you could be far more significant including fines and termination of your account without notice.


For those law and enforcement types, they may see this all as some sort of well-deserved punishment and necessary enforcement for cheating malcontents, and perhaps it is.  However, the big picture is far, far worse.  Everyone wants to believe that back in the day when letters were actually sent through the USPS that our communications were not tampered with and were treated confidentially except when a federal warrant was issued specifically to open a certain piece of mail.  Fast forward to the present day and virtually everyone in America expects that their activities on the internet, their e-mails, their web views are private but if ISPs are so willing to accommodate and join up with media companies to arrest our activities, how much easier is it for them to justify doing the same thing for patriotic or more sinister reasons for the Government.