EFF releases Net Neutrality detector software

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's new "Switzerland" tool can detect violations of Net Neutrality by your ISP:
"The sad truth is that the FCC is ill-equipped to detect ISPs interfering with your Internet connection," said Fred von Lohmann, EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney. "It's up to concerned Internet users to investigate possible network neutrality violations, and EFF's Switzerland software is designed to help with that effort. Comcast isn't the first, and certainly won't be the last, ISP to meddle surreptitiously with its subscribers' Internet communications for its own benefit."

"Until now, there hasn't been a reliable way to tell if somebody -- a hacker, an ISP, corporate firewall, or the Great Firewall of China -- is modifying your Internet traffic en route," said Peter Eckersley, EFF Staff Technologist and designer of Switzerland. "The few tests available have been for narrow and specific kinds of interference, or have required tremendous amounts of advanced forensic labor. Switzerland is designed to make general-purpose ISP testing faster and easier."

Part of EFF's "Test your ISP" project, Switzerland is an open source, command-line software tool designed to detect the modification or injection of packets of data by ISPs. Switzerland detects changes made by software tools believed to be in use by ISPs such as Sandvine and AudibleMagic, advertising systems like FairEagle, and various censorship systems. Although currently intended for use by technically sophisticated Internet users, development plans aim to make the tool increasingly easy to use.

EFF Releases "Switzerland" ISP Testing Tool


  1. It’s a mess of python code you have to check out of SVN before running it. They’re looking for volunteers to create a Windows installer – any takers?

  2. I don’t see how this will prevent my ISP, Time Warner from throttling my bandwidth. I’ve noticed a couple times that my 8 Mb/s download that I pay extra for is downgraded to 250 kb/s after downloading torrents (verified speed with LiveCD to make sure it wasn’t malware.) Of course I don’t expect the tech support to know what the engineers are up to.

    Checking for active ISP packet mangling won’t affect passive bandwidth capping. But it was pretty obvious anyway I guess.

    Before I was getting knocked offline altogether from a “too many incoming connections” in Vista. Who knows, maybe it is a SYN flood or was just bad Vista networking. But whatever. This stuff isn’t easy since the burden of proof is on the guy getting messed with. Maybe it was space monkeys.

  3. ugh, python? so this won’t run on my vax then? perl is still more portable than that ugly language.

  4. @JUBJUB: I don’t don’t think you’ve understood. It doesn’t prevent anything. There is a subtle clue to this in the phrase “detection software.” Please try to keep up.

  5. Nice to know the EFF is working on something. Given how the ruling went against Comcast yesterday (Boing Boing, why no reporting?) it woudl be great to be able to turn the ISP’s in.

  6. Cory, if you could post another story about this when it’s a bit more user-friendly that would be great, looks like a lot more of us will want to check it out then.

  7. I term this version of the tool a “Neutrality estimator assistant” And an alpha release at that.
    Any start on this is a good one! The evolving technology of neutrality estimation may create constructive feedback. For both ISP and advertising/merchants.

    As in the exposure of those who mung our data streams.They soon will be at risk of both public ridicule AND monetary ruin.Prime example to me – FairEagle to be blunt functions as a form of BHO exploit. And using Exploits that are of dubious Ethics opens them up to justice of a new sort.

    How hard for example would it be to pull a Judo on FairEagle. By scraping their served ads Vs originating request info. Then posting an “Ethics Rating” of their advertisers.
    Yep, it wil do wunnerful things to customer awareness. The new Boycott listing so to speak.
    Advertise using scummy tactics and be treated so.

    Thus we have a new question for all ISP policy makers. Which path kiddies? The path of Scummy Deceit and Data Rape? Or a model of neutrality we used to call “Common Carrier”

    The future of which path an ISP takes may be shaped by such tools. As if it’s independently demonstrated which path an ISP chooses we can choose which ISP to spend our money with. Or Not.

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