Comcast Denies Telling Customers Not To Use Tor

Comcast is firing back at reports that the cable and internet giant is threatening to cut off the service of customers who use Tor, a web browser that protects users’ anonymity and is sometimes used for illegal purchases.

Last week, according to this Inquisitr report, several Comcast customers began reporting that they were told by Comcast customer service agents that Tor was illegal, and that its use would lead to the customers’ Comcast service being cut off. One Comcast user reported a conversation that he allegedly had with a Comcast customer service representative, discussing the customer’s use of 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. We have the right to terminate, fine, or suspend your account at anytime due to you violating the rules.”

Now, according to Ars Technica, Comcast is complaining that no such thing has ever happened. Although the company does have an acceptable use policy, it does not mention use of the Tor browser.

The company’s website issued a statement addressing the Tor controversy.

“Comcast is not asking customers to stop using Tor, or any other browser for that matter. 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.”

Further, the statement makes several other points about Comcast customers and internet use. For example:

  • Comcast does not monitor its customers’ internet use, at all.
  • Comcast only discloses customers’ internet use history with a court warrant.
  • Comcast doesn’t even terminate its customers’ accounts for violating the Copyright Alert System (aka “six strikes”)- a system that seeks to educate, not punish, users who illegally download copyrighted material.

Even Comcast’s own Jason Livingood, Vice President of Internet Services, who wrote the statement, admitted that he himself has used Tor a time or two.

Tor, formally known as The Onion Router, is a web browser that masks users’ identity by routing their web traffic through a series of IP’s. Using Tor, users are able to access what is known as the Deep Web, where several websites, most notably the Silk Road, allow for the anonymous sale of drugs and other contraband.

As of this post, it is not known if the rumor that Comcast would be cutting off Tor users was simply a misunderstood conversation between a user and Comcast’s customer service department, or if it was fabricated out of whole cloth.

[Image courtesy of: Tor Project]