How to detect BitTorrent blocking

May 8, 2008 | 08:13

Tags: #blocking #filtering #throttling #torrent

Companies: #bittorrent #torrentfreak

If you're curious as to whether your particular ISP is one of those naughty P2P jammers, there's a website that might just help you find out.

According to an article published on pro-P2P website Torrentfreak yesterday, the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems in Germany has unveiled a project called 'Glasnost' which aims to gather information about what ISPs cripple BitTorrent transfers around the world.

The heart of the project is a Java applet which simulates BitTorrent traffic, both on a well-known BitTorrent port and on a randomly-chosen high-numbered TCP port. By transferring data in both directions for either four or seven minutes – depending on how much of a rush you're in – the site aims to detect any packet loss that could indicate that peer-to-peer traffic is being 'managed' by your ISP.

The system isn't perfect – it detects blocking rather than throttling, so only ISPs that actually prevent P2P uploads via TCP RST injection and similar methods will be detected – but it's a good tool for getting a rough idea of why your torrents might be bogged down.

The project has already published preliminary results on some 5,300 connections analysed by the software, and the results are perhaps surprising. Of the 889 invididual ISPs that were analysed during the test, only fourteen showed evidence of blocking BitTorrent traffic – and ten of those were located in the US.

While a cluster of results in the US is to be expected, if only because more tests have been carried out from that location than anywhere else, it's still interesting that the country with the next largest sample size, Canada, has but a single ISP showing signs of outright blocking of BitTorrent traffic.

If you want to run the test across your own connection, point your Java-enabled browser at the project website, but be patient – at the time of writing, the site was having a few problems keeping up with demand.

Anyone here know that their ISP is doing naughty things with their data stream, or are UK ISPs above such petty fiddling? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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