Google to FCC: Google Fiber Legally Prohibits Servers to Avoid Network Congestion

Ars Technica points out that Google Fiber's terms of service has a clause that a lot of its subscribers probably don't know about: if you don't have a written agreement with the company in advance, you are not allowed to host any type of server on its connection. This infuriated Douglas McClendon, a Google Fiber subscriber from Kansas, who filed a complaint the FCC claiming that Google Fiber was violating its Open Internet Order (net neutrality ruling). That Order says that "fixed broadband providers may not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices."

The FCC received the complaint and gave Google the opportunity to respond to the complaint. The company issued the following response yesterday:

Google Fiber’s server policy is an aspect of “reasonable network management” that the Open Internet Order and Rules specifically permit. Mr. McClendon appears to allege that Google Fiber’s server policy violates the prohibitions against “blocking” and/or “unreasonable discrimination." The Order, however, provides an exception in both instances for “reasonable network management.” As the Order explains, “[a] network management practice is reasonable if it is appropriate and tailored to achieving a legitimate network management purpose, taking into account the particular network architecture and technology of the broadband Internet access service.”

Google Fiber’s server policy is prototypical “reasonable network management,” with no discriminatory impact on any content, application, or service provider. The server policy has been established to account for the congestion management and network security needs of Google Fiber’s network architecture, particularly given that Google Fiber does not impose data caps on its users.

Google could also argue that it isn't the only company imposing such restrictions on its customers: Comcast also restricts users hosting servers. What this means is that Google's Fiber customers could be restricted from hosting any type of service – such as a Minecraft server, peer-to-peer, or even Slingbox.

Google has assured customers that this doesn't apply to things like hosting a Minecraft server, according to Wired reporter Ryan Singel.

"But in the Google Fiber forums, employees assure subscribers the rules aren’t meant to apply to Minecraft servers," Singel wrote. "And, in reality, Google Fiber probably won’t notice, let alone kick you off, for using a Slingbox or peer-to-peer software."

You can read Google's response to the FCC here (PDF).

Source: Ars Technica

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