Inaugural day sneakiness from CNN

What will probably go down as one of the most significant days in US history has come and gone with Barak Obama now sitting in the Oval Office of the White House. Another marker as well has to be the number of people who watched this historic moment on the Internet. Streaming video of the event was spread around the world from just about every major news organization but it appears that CNN may have set the stage for future online events being streamed much better.

According to a post by Brian Livingston over at Windows Secrets the main reason CNN’s coverage of the event was technically ahead of the game was because as part of watching their streaming video of the event was the installation of a peer-to-peer (P2P) client on your computer. The way it worked was when you selected to view the live stream from the CNN site you would have seen a dialog box asking you to allow the installation of the Octoshape Grid Delivery enhancement for Adobe Flash Players. This dialog doesn’t show for their regular video – only for live streaming events.

So what is the Octoshape Grid Delivery enhancement?

Well, it is basically nothing more that a P2P client that runs in the background and when you surf to a site that utilizes this P2P technology your machine become a node that streams the content as well as lets you watch it. Some folks might not see anything wrong with that but when you stop to consider two very important facts one has to wonder – as did Brian Livingston in his post – why more of an uproar isn’t being made of this.

The first thing to consider is that by installing the Octoshape Grid Delivery module you are turning your computer into a broadcast station for any content utilizing that technology. Whether you like it or not you make your computer a part of a P2P network that provides no notification that you are in fact streaming data (video or sound) outward. They are using your bandwidth without your explicit permission not to mention – your knowledge.

On January 20th the traffic was so high that the Internet Storm Center reported that the traffic on Port 8247 – the port being used by the P2P program – was thousands of times higher than usual

Now granted, some folks might be okay with that (I’m not) but here’s another point to consider – especially as we move into a world of Internet provider bandwidth and data transfer caps. All this activity on the 20th would have gone against your caps and doing so without your knowledge. This kind of sneaky use of P2P technology doesn’t bode well for the future when you suddenly get a notification of either overage charges or speed downgrades from your ISP because you have used up your allotment for the month.

As Brian points out in his post

Costs to end users. Many ISPs around the world restrict how much bandwidth users can consume. Those providers charge by the megabyte for any traffic above that level. Users who installed Octoshape’s app and served traffic upstream as well as down may get an unpleasant surprise in their next monthly bill. Octoshape anticipated this in the company’s EULA by saying, “You are responsible for any telecommunication or other connectivity charges incurred through the use of the Software.”
In addition, ISP terms of service usually prohibit customers from using their Internet connection to host a server.

Make’s me glad to have watch the Inauguration on YouTube but I can also say I won’t be watching any live streams from CNN anymore.

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