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Washington Wants 10,000 Web Surfers 147

crimeandpunishment writes "This one sounds too good to be true: surf the Web, and you'll be helping the government. The FCC is looking for 10,000 volunteers to take part in a study to determine if broadband providers are really providing Internet connections that are as fast as advertised. The broad look at broadband will involve special equipment installed in homes across the country to measure Internet connections and compare them to advertised speeds." Here's where to go to apply.
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Washington Wants 10,000 Web Surfers

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  • The Government? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:46PM (#32427156)
    Are you sure this isn't an effort by the *IAA crowd to 'happen upon' illegal file sharing or other such frowned upon activities?

    Call me stupid, paranoid or even bat-shit crazy, but I don't want the government (or *IAA) installing a device that my "bandwidth" goes through. If they want that level of access let them get a warrant ;-)
  • by GrahamCox ( 741991 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:46PM (#32427158) Homepage
    Why would I help the government? Are they going to pay me? If not, it's hardly "too good to be true", more like doing their work for them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:59PM (#32427250)
    I seem to remember hearing stories of yesteryear that discussed common folks volunteering to make this country a better place.

    Now the country is just filled with douchebags I guess. Yes, why wouldn't you want to help the FCC blast the big telecoms when all these tests show their networks are complete shit? Why wouldn't you want to give the FCC more ammo for net neutrality?
  • by daveime ( 1253762 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @11:09PM (#32427306)

    Because like everything else, the days of "being a good neighbour" are long gone.

    Example that happened to my own brother years ago ... We were out on the town one Friday, and my brother spotted something amiss further up the avenue. A guy beating the crap out of (presumably) his girlfriend. My brother runs up and punches the guy out. Next thing the police arrive, immediately get the wrong end of the stick (helped in part by the stupid girl who then defended her boyfriend's actions and said my brother had been the instigator of the violence), end result being my brother gets jailed overnight and faced an assault charge. Luckily due to the testimony of me and my friends who'd also witnessed the incident, at least the judge had the common sense to let him off with a caution.

    But the fact remains, these days you DO NOT get involved. There's so many ways you end up getting bitten in the ass by trying to be a good citizen.

    yes, this broadband monitoring MIGHT be for the good of the people, and it might just as easily end up in the hands of the RIAA or christ knows who, and you facing a day in court arguing a P2P "illegality", with the big boys holding evidence obtained using a government based monitoring system. Tell me, who's going to win ?

    Fuck it, better to be safe than sorry ...

  • by muridae ( 966931 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @11:34PM (#32427456)

    So, you are willing to complain, but not willing to do anything about it? The people who don't have a problem with this policy probably will not bother to join in. So how, exactly, do you think the government can "come down on those practices" if no one is willing to do more than say "My ISP does this, but I will not help you prove it"?

    Put this device between your DMZ/wifi router and your internal router. Then just make sure your torrent or other illicit traffic goes around this device. Easy, helps you nail your ISP for this crap, and you don't have to worry about the government spying on your Ubuntu iso uploads.

  • Seriously /.? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AngryPhysicist ( 1824196 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @12:39AM (#32427832)
    I'm impressed. Really I am. Of all the complaints I've read in commentary, about the way major ISP's are treating their customers, this should be a call to arms for everyone. But no, everyone here has to put on their tin-foil hat and cower in fear because the government is actually trying to give a damn. They are asking for your help to prove to the rest of the nation that you are being ripped off by your ISP. They even describe what they intend to do with your bandwidth usage in the FAQs!

    How does this affect my security and privacy? The unit operates as a normal router and exposes absolutely no services to the Internet. It's similar to installing a print server or a NAS on to your home network - it's a cut down device that serves a very specific purpose. We should point out that assuming the unit is installed as per the instructions, all network traffic will be flowing through it. However, the unit simply acts as a standard switch or standard router and does not look at any of the packets flowing across your network. It only monitors traffic volumes for the purposes of deciding when to run (or not to run!) the tests and to measure consumption. Testing information uploaded from the unit to our servers contains no information about you whatsoever. Furthermore, all such communications are encrypted, ensuring that results cannot be tampered with en-route. Your individual unit's test results will be available to you alone. Your unit's results will also be aggregated with others from the same ISP to form a larger average set of results that can be viewed publicly. We have absolutely no intention of doing anything that may adversely affect your privacy or security. If you have any concerns please feel free to contact us to discuss them. SamKnows, on behalf of the FCC, is collecting and storing broadband performance information, including various personally identifiable information (PII) such as the street addresses, email addresses, online usage patterns, and broadband performance information, from those individuals who are participating voluntarily in this test. SamKnows will not release, disclose to the public, or share any PII with any outside entities, including the FCC, except as is consistent with the Privacy Act of 1974, Public Law 93579 (5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(5)). For more information, see the SamKnows privacy policy. The broadband performance information that is made available to the public, including the FCC, will be in an aggregated form and with all PII removed, in compliance with subsection (b)(5) of the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (5 U.S.C. 552a), and the SamKnows privacy policy. The broadband performance information that is made available to the public, including the FCC, will be in an aggregated form and with all PII removed, in compliance with subsection (b)(5) of the SamKnows privacy policy. The FCC is soliciting this information under authority of the Broadband Data Improvement Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-385, Stat 4096 103(c)(1); American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA), Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat 115 (2009); and Section 154(i) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended. [] If you consider this flaimbait, I don't care. But for once, stop being paranoid and actually take the chance to help out. And before anyone asks, yes I am new here.

  • by dbet ( 1607261 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @01:22AM (#32428104)
    Well, they either ask for volunteers, or hire people. Option 1 costs them (and you) less.
  • by RoFLKOPTr ( 1294290 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @01:26AM (#32428128)

    Why would I help the government? Are they going to pay me? If not, it's hardly "too good to be true", more like doing their work for them.

    Why would you help the government? Doing their work for them? Last I checked, this was a government by the People for the People, and if you are a citizen of the United States of America, you are a part of that. It's one thing if you argue against this initiative because it's not something you would like your tax dollars spent on, but to insinuate that the government is using the citizens to get "free" work out of them is almost offensive.

    Now, if this was a mandatory program, that would be a completely different story, but this is a voluntary way that you may apply to take part in of crowdsourcing data about the ISPs that we all know have been guilty of little (and some not so little) lies about the capabilities of their networks in a way that doesn't cost a fuckshitton of money and can be constantly monitored for realtime results.

  • by clarkn0va ( 807617 ) <apt.get@gm a i l . c om> on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @02:16AM (#32428418) Homepage

    You don't think the major ISP's have the ability to prioritize traffic to specific locations. Methinks consumers will happen to get much better throughput to this website than they will get to most others...

    As long as it's in the ISP's interest to cast their speed in the best light (and I would think so in this case), I think it's pretty much a given that they will game this test accordingly, to the extent that they can.

  • by Mr. Freeman ( 933986 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @04:37AM (#32428962)
    Well, seeing as how they're looking for volunteers it's not as if they're going to uncover anything illegal. Think about it, what person that downloads illegal material would, in their right mind, volunteer to have a freaking monitoring box hooked up to their network.

    So probably not a trap.

    Yes, the ISPs have lobbyists and I'd usually be quick to say that nothing will happen because the lobbyists will kill anything they don't like. But at the same time the government has never actually gone to the effort of doing this type or survey before. Sure, you can write off an internet speed test as nothing more than lip service, but a study involving 10000 and monitoring equipment for an extended period of time? This indicates that they're actually prepared to do something. No doubt the lobbyists have already been campaigning against this but apparently it didn't stop them from moving forward with it anyway.
  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @09:17AM (#32430380) Homepage Journal

    Last I checked, this was a government by the People for the People

    You need to check again.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @09:36AM (#32430650) Journal

    Methinks consumers will happen to get much better throughput to this website than they will get to most others...

    It'll be like the well-known food critic who goes to a downtown restaurant and writes "The service is uniformly excellent... Portions are big and the coat-check girl extremely friendly".

The power to destroy a planet is insignificant when compared to the power of the Force. - Darth Vader