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A new study suggests that major ISPs have been blocking BitTorrent traffic on mobile networks. This is in direct violation of the net neutrality regulations implemented by the European Parliament.

When Europe’s first net neutrality rules were implemented in 2015, it was believed that this would end BitTorrent blocking. However, the analysis done by Valerio Luconi and his colleagues says otherwise.

For those who don’t know, net neutrality laws state that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) not discriminate, restrict, or prioritize traffic on the base of content, user identity, source of traffic, or application. One of the most common net neutrality violation is blocking or throttling of certain types of traffic in comparison to others.

Violation of Net Neutrality Regulations

The study shows that large ISPs in Europe are actively blocking BitTorrent traffic on mobile networks. One of them was found eliminating BitTorrent traffic completely.

Three major European ISPs, namely, Swedish ISP Telenor, Vodafone, and the Spanish Yoigo – were found throttling BitTorrent traffic.

While the interference by Telenor couldn’t be established in later tests, both Vodafone and Yoigo were found blocking BitTorrent traffic on the standard port 6881.

The researchers found that Vodafone was blocking BitTorrent traffic on higher ports too. The team believes that Vodafone is probably using deep packet inspection to block traffic from BitTorrent.

Deep packet inspection is also treated as an illegal method and a violation of the EU’s net neutrality rules. Despite this, the method still remains a common practice.

But there are loopholes

The authors further suggest that blocking BitTorrent traffic may not be a complete violation of net neutrality regulations.

According to BEREC’s net neutrality implementation guidelines, ISPs are still allowed to throttle particular categories of traffic (within reasonable limits) to manage overall network traffic.

So, technically, ISPs can throttle BitTorrent traffic citing if it improves the overall “transmission quality” of the network. And there is no doubt that torrent traffic can be taxing for networks.

Thus, ISPs can use this loophole to block any specific categories of traffic like BitTorrent.

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