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Broadband Service as P2P Distro Experiment 71

Posted by Zonk
from the you-learn-something-new-everyday dept.
Not another doctor wrote to mention a PC Doctor article about the Sky by Broadband service. In addition to providing access to the internet, the service also helpfully downloads and installs the Kontiki P2P service. From the article: "What this really means is that Sky in all their advertising are making out that you are downloading content directly from them rather than other users. Also, the P2P link continues to run in the background after you've shut down the main application, eating up bandwidth by allowing others to download the files from your PC. Kontiki also collects and sends back to Sky a lot of information about your PC. There is no mention as to how this data is protected from unauthorized access, however, initial examination with Ethereal seems to show that all data is at least encrypted during transmission."
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Broadband Service as P2P Distro Experiment

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  • by numbski (515011) * <numbskiNO@SPAMhksilver.net> on Monday February 27, 2006 @12:16AM (#14806402) Homepage Journal
    ...we're INTENTIONALLY creating Sky-net.

    Just want to make sure I'm understanding this right. Don't mind me, I'm going to go hide in the Vet office.
  • From the website that is linked to from the article: "There is, however, a darker side to the Sky by Broadband - it installs onto your system a P2P (Peer-to-Peer) application called Kontiki. The purpose of this is to allow others to access the movie data that lives on your PC. This means that they entire Sky by Broadband system is a big P2P experiment and everyone wanting in on Sky by Broadband has to take part."

    From the PC Doctor: What this really means is that Sky in all their advertising are making o
    • What ELSE could they say to spell it out? I don't get it.

      "All Your Base Are Belong to Us".
    • by Anonymous Coward
      From the website that is linked to from the article: "There is, however, a darker side to the Sky by Broadband - it installs onto your system a P2P (Peer-to-Peer) application called Kontiki. The purpose of this is to allow others to access the movie data that lives on your PC. This means that they entire Sky by Broadband system is a big P2P experiment and everyone wanting in on Sky by Broadband has to take part."

      No, that's from the article, written by a third party. The website [sky.com] says no such thing. No mar

  • Spam (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Monday February 27, 2006 @12:24AM (#14806424)
    Submitter was created for the sole purpose of commenting on this article. His link leads back to the PC Doctor website, which I don't think most of us have heard of. It sells tech books and support.

    On topic, this is pretty serious if true. We really do need a P2P content distribution system, but having it on the sly doesn't really work. I'd like a system whereby it's cheaper if you agree to seed for a bit voluntarily.
    • Re:Spam (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "initial examination with Ethereal seems to show that all data is at least encrypted during transmission."

      Is it just me, or doesn't this sound like somebody who tried to track down a few rogue packets, and just couldn't figure out how to decipher them?

      I read P2P, but I hear FUD.
    • Re:Spam (Score:2, Insightful)

      by redthefed (713416)
      Submitter was created for the sole purpose of commenting on this article. His link leads back to the PC Doctor website, which I don't think most of us have heard of. It sells tech books and support.

      So what if the submitter created an account to post this story? I read slashdot for years before registering. And of course his link leads to his site, where else would it? Just because it's from his site it's spam? Come on. It's news, fair and plain.
    • Look. His handle is Not another doctor and the article is on the website of PC Doctor.

      Obviously he's not connected with them. What are you, paranoid or something?
    • p2pclient.txt (Score:4, Insightful)

      by chub_mackerel (911522) on Monday February 27, 2006 @07:05AM (#14807251)

      Gee, never saw this [slashdot.org] coming, did we?

      Anyway, content owners want the benefits of P2P without the risks. The MACHINE is OURS, however, so we can play hardball right back at them with a firm ethical foundation to stand on. We can fight back with the same methods:

      We need something like a P2P "robots.txt" file that is somehow accessible to outside entities, containing the conditions under which our machines can become part of any content distribution system. It could implement (through standard settings) a license under which your machine can be used for such purposes by a third party.

      Example: using such a file, I should be able to rig up my machine so that it advertises the fact that any content distributed on the machine must be public domain, open source, in uncrippled formats, etc. Distribution of any other content on such a system would constructively create a license to use that content in specified ways.

      In other words, if you stream your content (even in part) through MY machine, then you're giving me the rights to distribute, copy, modify, reverse engineer, etc., that content. If you're not happy with that, don't distribute using my machine.

      Putting this in a technical setting like a metatag or *.txt file makes it possible for any distribution software to check the setting. So when they argue that you "clicked the EULA" you can argue right back that the software "agreed to the terms of distribution on my machine." Then they get to argue that it's harder for software to employ a clear and standard permission check than it is for an average person to read and understand a crafty EULA that hides away the fact that you're becoming a peer in the distribution network.

      I don't know if my explanation was clear but I think it's a good idea.

      • Get a firewall. Windows even includes one nowadays. When an application requests permission to send stuff out to the Internet, deny it. Problem solved. It works much better than your system of "anything traveling through my pipes becomes my property," which is roughly equivalent to kidnapping the mailman and reading through his entire bag of mail just because he stepped up to your front door.
        • I think more accurately this would be like putting the mailman under citizens arrest and searching him for illegal substances because he broke into and then entered your house (or just entered if the front door and/or Windows(c) are left unlocked).
          • Why bother with the breaking-and-entering analogy? He was on your property already, after all. As another example, when the neighbors are playing bases-ball and the ball lands on my lawn, I keep it! It's my ball now! Not theirs!

            </coot>
  • Mod Story -1: Troll (Score:5, Informative)

    by OverlordQ (264228) on Monday February 27, 2006 @12:33AM (#14806447) Journal
    Just a troll article looking for pageviews, from the fraking SKy by broadband page:

    How does Sky use Kontiki's secure peer-to-peer technology to deliver videos to my PC?

    Sky by broadband displays the video content available for you to download. Kontiki offers the underlying peer-to-peer technology which delivers the videos you choose in a secure, efficient manner, enabling very large, high-resolution videos to be delivered to your computer.

    Specifically, the Kontiki technology determines how to download the video you selected by searching for sources of that video on locations which may include Sky's own network, or other users of Sky's Kontiki network or "grid". If the video can be delivered to you more quickly and efficiently from another computer, that's exactly what Kontiki will do! Conversely, your computer is also part of Sky's Kontiki grid, so your computer might be used as a source location for transferring a video to another Sky user.


    Pretty much says it's doing what TFA is bitching about them not saying.
  • Kontiki is what Gamespot uses as an alternate way of accessing their content, I believe. They may not use it anymore though, it's been a little while.
  • How much public data does a user need to receive & transmit before that user is accorded common carrier status, and the attached protections? A fast broadband connection can pass as much inforamtion as a small telephone exchange.

    So what if your little enterprise collects no revenue, nor puts any conditions on its 'subscribers'?

  • Sounds similar to Skype. If your firewall allows incoming connections you act as a relay for those who don't. Combine this with a dodgy ISP which charges you for your uploads (http://bigpond.com.au/ [bigpond.com.au]) and newbies are in a world of pain.

    Applications like this would be great if they were opt-in: if you had to say how much upload bandwidth you were willing the application to use, fine.
  • This kinda seems to be what he was talking about.
  • Sky is smart for using a P2P architecture, a cool solution to an engineering problem. I have serious concerns about the partial uninstallation issue though.

    Was the broken uninstaller a mistake or a "feature"? They have something to gain from using your computer as a P2P host. If, say, an investigation produced emails showing it was in the design spec, has a fraud been comitted? Deceiving someone to profit at their expense (resources--bandwith, CPU, etc) sounds like fraud. Have they broken the law?

    Can anyo
    • Computer laws are pretty out-of-date in the UK (e.g. they are only just considering DoS being an offence). But there is an "unauthorised" use law, which might cover this. And generic fraud laws ("attempting to obtain pecuniary advantage by deception"). The term "deception" might well cover incomprehensible and unfair click-through terms.

      Would have to be tested in court, and you'd have to get the Crown Prosecution Service to take the case to get a criminal prosecution. Very unlikely, especially given the mal
      • Computer laws are pretty out-of-date in the UK

        The computer misuse act is rather fuzzy when it comes to "unauthorised use" - it rather predates the notion of public network servers. What constitutes "unauthorised use"?

        I.e. if you're running a publically accessible web server and I connect my browser to it, is that "unauthorised use"? You haven't given me written permission to use your web server.
        Lets say you argue that publically accessible web servers are obviously authorised, otherwise you'd have to get
        • >What about open 802.11 networks?

          You jail users:

          http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4721723.stm [bbc.co.uk]

          K.

          • You jail users:

            http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4721723.stm [bbc.co.uk]


            I'm well aware that people have been jailed for unauthorised use of open APs, but my questions are:
            1. If using a device that is actively broadcasting invitations for the public to use it is considered "unauthorised", surely it would be considered even more unauthorised if you were to go out of your way and actually probe a service to see if it's there (this is the case whenever you access any web server).
            2. How is the user to know whether an op
            • "This isn't a question about network security - this is simply a question of how the defendent is supposed to _know_ whether they were authorised to use the access point." That's the point. You don't know. It might be OK. It might not. If you get your door kicked in by the police then it wasn't OK, else it was. It becomes de facto prohibited because it leaves any law-abiding person in sufficient doubt to not do it. It's known as a "chilling effect" in American English. There's a lot of it about these days.
              • It becomes de facto prohibited because it leaves any law-abiding person in sufficient doubt to not do it.

                Extending the analogy a bit, what if some non-free software "accidentally" came with free licences? Would the authorities be expected to protect the software publishers by arresting anyone exercising the rights that licence gives them? If so, would it then be ok for free software to be defacto-banned because noone knows which software is really free?

                I can't understand how using a network that's *broadc
                • "I can't understand how using a network that's *broadcasting* *invitations* can possibly be considered unauthorised. If the network owner didn't want to authorise your access then they damned well shouldn't have configured their access point to invite everyone to use it. Are we going to extend this interpretation of the law to prevent pwople from accessing *any* public network services? if not, why not?"

                  Also, if Joe Sixpack makes a mistake and selects his neighbor's unsecured "linksys" (and sets it as de
                  • Also, if Joe Sixpack makes a mistake and selects his neighbor's unsecured "linksys" (and sets it as default) rather than his own unsecured "linksys" should he be arrested?

                    It doesn't even need to be the user's mistake - if you tell a client to associate with your access point with SSID "linksys", it'll happilly associate with any access point with the SSID "linksys" (which will almost certainly hand out a DHCP lease too) without the user doing *anything*. This is of course how 802.11 roaming works.

                    Is it san
    • by ardle (523599)
      I reckon that if they knowingly shipped software whose p2p component fails to uninstall, then they have betrayed their customers to a greater extent than Sony did with their rootkit; Sony's transgression could possibly lead to a victm's bandwidth being used by zombie processes such as spam, Sky's will result in the victim's bandwidth being used to distribute content on Sky's behalf. In terms of money, it's clear that Sky is ripping off their customers (even those customers who only try the service for a whi
  • From the site's Term and Conditions [sky.com]

    5.4We will be liable for any fraudulent misrepresentations We make and for any death or personal injury caused by Our negligence. We will not be responsible or liable to You for any other loss or damage that You or any third party may suffer as a result of using or in connection with Your use of the Sky Site.

    Honey, put the Emergency room on call! Im about to surf the web!

  • Also, the P2P link continues to run in the background after you've shut down the main application, eating up bandwidth by allowing others to download the files from your PC.

    Then kill it by other means, or pull the plug, or somthing... If you know what this all means your quite capable of finding a work around, if not, then, well, you know, ignorance is bliss.
  • In addition to providing access to the internet

    If you were to bother to read the requirements page [sky.com], you'll see that one of the requirements is "A broadband internet connection of at least 512KB (1MB is recommended)".

    This service does not provide connectivity, that's a separate requirement. Also, I don't know quite why PC Doctor is getting so upset about this. I briefly checked out the Sky by Broadband info a week or two ago, and from a few minutes clicking around the linked site it was perfectly plain to me
    • It's pretty clear that this "PC Doctor" is sufficiently upset that he's created a user to get a front-page link from /. to the website he sells books from.

      Nothing to his own advantage of doing that, then misleading people here to get all upset with Murdoch, is there?
    • I don't know quite why PC Doctor is getting so upset about this. I briefly checked out the Sky by Broadband info a week or two ago, and from a few minutes clicking around the linked site it was perfectly plain to me that it involved installing the Kontiki P2P app. Ok, they may not shout it from the front page, but they're not exactly hiding the fact, either.

      It may be perfectly clear to you, but it probably isn't perfectly clear to Joe Sixpack, Sky's main & target audience. Joe Sixpack just sees "great

  • Same as the BBC (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I applied for the BBC's online show trial and after reading the terms and conditions i abandoned it because it infact uses the same kontiki p2p service as sky apparently are. I emailed the bbc help address regarding this and was told if you dont like it you can turn your pc off...
  • "Kontiki also collects and sends back to Sky a lot of information about your PC. There is no mention as to how this data is protected from unauthorized access, however, initial examination with Ethereal seems to show that all data is at least encrypted during transmission."

    So they know the encrypted data is sending back information about your computer. And they also don't know that the data is encrypted, because there is no mention as to how the data is protected from unauthorized access.

    Erm. *tightens tin
    • So they know the encrypted data is sending back information about your computer. And they also don't know that the data is encrypted, because there is no mention as to how the data is protected from unauthorized access.

      RTFA and pay attention. They know that it's sending back information about your PC because Sky says it is, and they know it's encrypted somehow because they've packet-sniffed it, but Sky don't say how they protect the data from unauthorised access (the encryption could be XORing the data
  • by gataylor (609192) on Monday February 27, 2006 @06:00AM (#14807121)
    Whether you agree that specifying the P2P nature in the Terms and Conditions is enough, the Kontiki P2P software is hard to uninstall.

    Uninstalling Sky By Broadband does NOT uninstall the Kontiki peer to peer. So, anyone who tries Sky By Broadband, doesn't like it, and uninstalls it, is still participating in the P2P network - and most likely doing so without their knowledge. I bet they're all wondering why teh internets have gone all slow...

    I wrote some uninstall instructions on my blog last month for the Sky By Broadband Kontiki P2P server:
    http://www.opinionatedgeek.com/Blog/blogentry=0017 5/Blog.aspx [opinionatedgeek.com]

    And here's another set of uninstall instructions:
    http://www.nanagram.co.uk/sky.htm [nanagram.co.uk]

    The big question in my mind is whether it is incompetence that makes the software hard to uninstall, or is it a deliberate attempt to grow their network.
  • So here's a really implausible thought:

    All Sky has to do is find one sucker each on a high-speed connection to download each movie they have on offer. After that they turn those computers into supernodes and sit back and watch while the movies are copied from user machines everywhere. A small notification is sent to them with each download that allows for billing/payments.

    Of course that was really implausible. I'm sure media companies would never sink that low!
  • "Kontiki also collects and sends back to Sky a lot of information about your PC. There is no mention as to how this data is protected from unauthorized access, however, initial examination with Ethereal seems to show that all data is at least encrypted during transmission." ..its nice to know my information is being stolen from me safely.
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Monday February 27, 2006 @06:59AM (#14807243)
    Sorry, call me old fashioned but I thought the idea was you paid for your TV service and got no advertisements OR you got free TV service with adverts every 10 minutes. All credit to Sky's marketing in that they seem to have combined the two into one great big ripoff.

    Kontiki is Sky realising they've got away with one ripoff and are now embarking on a second to leech even more money from their customers - no different than just about every other big corporation that we the cattle masses have allowed to get too big for it's own damn good.

    Wake up and smell the coffee people! If you don't like how a corporation is screwing you then don't buy their products, it really is THAT SIMPLE. The more people that do that, the more they have to take notice and stop treating their customers like mindless cattle.

    And as for Sky, don't bother with them. Wait a year or two and all those nice TV programs you want to see get released in a handy DVD box set that you can probably buy for less than a month's subscription to Sky anyway.

  • can't they make up a new and original name?

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