Comcast exec: No, we haven't banned Tor. I use it. You're probably using it
Keep in mind if, say, your Onion browser craps out on Xfinity
Comcast has denied claims that it will cut off subscribers for using the Tor project's anonymizing web browser.
"Comcast is not asking customers to stop using Tor, or any other browser for that matter," said Jason Livingood, VP of internet & communications engineering at Comcast in a blog post titled "Setting the record straight on Tor."
"We have no policy against Tor, or any other browser or software. Customers are free to use their Xfinity Internet service to visit any website, use any app, and so forth."
The ISP felt the need to make a statement after a blog called DeepDotWeb published allegatios from a user who claimed that Comcast representatives had got in contact over the use of Tor on its networks. According to the report a customer service rep called Kelly warned the user about using Tor.
"Users who try to use anonymity, or cover themselves up on the internet, are usually doing things that aren't so-to-speak legal," she apparently told the customer. "We have the right to terminate, fine, or suspend your account at anytime due to you violating the rules."
The internet predictably went nuts over the original report. Comcast reliably turns up near the bottom of customer satisfaction studies, but its proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable and its perceived role in the net neutrality debate have increased the focus of attention on the company.
Back in July Ryan Block, a VP of product at AOL, recorded a call with a Comcast rep as he tried to close his account; the Comcast chap wouldn't take no for an answer. The firm later apologized, saying it was "very embarrassed" at the call, but pointed out that on one level the representative had been doing what he was trained to do.
There then followed a host of other subscribers recording their support calls, some of which showed a distinct lack of customer service. Against that background, the report on Tor was enough to send certain portions of the internet into a tizzy.
But in this case Comcast says that the "anecdotal chat room evidence," presented in the original report is under dispute and states that the firm doesn't monitor the "browser software, web surfing or online history."
"Our customers can use Tor at any time, as I have myself. I'm sure many of them are using it right now," Livingood concluded. Do let us know if you can't. ®
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