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User Claims Google Fiber's No Server TOS a Neutrality Violation
by Karl Bode 06:14PM Thursday Jul 25 2013
For as long as most of you can probably remember, your ISP's terms of service has prohibited you from running a server, given the more intensive bandwidth demands. Ryan Single directs our attention to one Kansas City resident who filed a complaint with the FCC insisting that Google Fiber's ban on running your own servers is a network neutrality violation.

In a semi-rambling 53 page complaint (pdf) filed with the FCC, Kansas City resident Douglas McClendon complains that such bans technically prohibit everything from running a Minecraft server to using a Slingbox:
quote:
All I want from ISPs is a fair share of network resources. And by fair, I mean that I want my usage of the traffic to be balanced with others, but most certainly in an application and service agnostic way. My upstream traffic as a web or game server should be treated no differently than each of my neighbors total upstream traffic, that may include more video uploads to YouTube, or live video streams to Skype or Google Hangouts.
While it's true that Google has been heavily waffling on its neutrality principles for years, it's quite a stretch to insist they're violating network neutrality because their TOS has the same non-server language users have been seeing for years. The language is designed to stop incredibly heavy users from running commercial-grade servers, and ISPs obviously don't interfere with standard residential uses like game servers or place-shifting TV content. Still, under FCC rules the agency has until Monday to respond to McClendon.

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ILpt4U
Premium
join:2006-11-12
Lisle, IL
kudos:9
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse

Business Class Google Fiber?

Does Google offer a business class version of the Fiber service?

There probably is one somewhere, but all residential ISP services I know of have that same "no server" clause in the TOS. But that clause typically does not apply to business class accounts (always check officially with your ISP for the official terms)
xenophon

join:2007-09-17

1 recommendation

Re: Business Class Google Fiber?

Yeah, every ISP has similar server-side terms but it's really only a problem if the ISP enforces it and doesn't sound like Google is challenging this guy. Google so far has been pretty lenient with small biz running out of homes, clearly with server side services. Google is also giving away service to the KC Public Library, which plans to run remote desktop 'application checkout' service to potentially hundreds of concurrent users and Google is aware of it.

This guy probably should have kept his mouth shut as now they may enforce it. Sounds like he has attention deficit disorder and is getting his needs met. Apparently it worked.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH
Currently, no. Google has no such thing available. That is why businesses wishing to use GF must move into a home.

swintec
Premium,VIP
join:2003-12-19
Alfred, ME
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·VoicePulse
·Sprint Mobile Br..
·RapidVPS

2 recommendations

Files FCC claim....

This is why we can't have nice things. Why didnt he file a complaint when he had a cable or DSL connection? My guess is, he is looking to run something for some sort of profit with all of that juicy upload bandwidth.
--
Usenet Block Accounts | Unlimited Accounts

tiger72
SexaT duorP
Premium
join:2001-03-28
Saint Louis, MO
kudos:1

Re: Files FCC claim....

my guess is he is employed by TimeWarnerCable.
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1

1 recommendation

Re: Files FCC claim....

said by tiger72:

my guess is he is employed by TimeWarnerCable.

He's hotboiinc/t-business?

dmcnonanon

@sunflower.com
Douglas McClendon here. No, I am not employed by TimeWarner. If the FCC and/or Google side with me on the core issue of my complaint (as Bruce Schneier and active duty United States Navy Information Warfare Officer Dave Schroeder seem to have), then I will start reviewing TimeWarner's broadband ToS for equally legally unenforceable language. That stuff is clearly IMNSHO chilling to innovative home server software developers.

dmcnonanon

@sunflower.com
to answer your question- read the complaint. It was in large part due to Google's historical NetNeutrality advocacy, combined with some choice quotes from Google's V.P. and Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf about what IPv6 was meant to support.

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

FCC response on Monday - Google TOS are fair; no srvr stays

McClendon will get his answer Monday from the FCC - Google TOS are fair and you don't get your business grade server opportunity. If you want a business grade line with the right to run a server, get a much more expensive business acct.
--
"If you want to anger a conservative lie to him.
If you want to anger a liberal tell him the truth."

tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5

Re: FCC response on Monday - Google TOS are fair; no srvr stays

Damn it, I should be able to have a DC in the garage with the city paying the electric bill if I want to...
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL
said by FFH5:

McClendon will get his answer Monday from the FCC - Google TOS are fair and you don't get your business grade server opportunity. If you want a business grade line with the right to run a server, get a much more expensive business acct.

some business grade lines are just the same as home ones with better SLAs.

T1 lines are slow but have good SLA's.

tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5

Quick, shut it down!

another pipe dream up in smoke
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY
Reviews:
·ooma
·Optimum Online
·Verizon FiOS

residential account

if you want to run server grade bandwidth, you pay for a server grade account. plain and simple. on $70 your already getting pretty close to "COST" for Google's bandwidth where as it's some much wider fraction of the crappy isp's everyone else has. I don't see intermittent use of server apps a problem.. but when it looks like there is a potential for commercial use & abuse that can conceivably be investigated and notification can go out as violation of tos.

google should decide how much more commercial grade svc should cost b/c IIRC both accounts cost the same price, right?

tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5

Re: residential account

Think they won't push consumers and business to use the google cloud services?
JesseHarris

join:2008-07-30
Sandy, UT
said by tmc8080:

on $70 your already getting pretty close to "COST" for Google's bandwidth

Uh, no. That's false. Really, really, ridiculously false. The cost to deliver the service is more in the $30-35 range based on what other providers in Utah have told me. That remaining $35 could pay for at least 3.5TB of transfer per user at Google's volume.
mrwiggles

join:2013-06-10
Sherman, TX

That's a Paddlin'

I always thought that these clauses were silly and only there to allow the ISP to terminate the service for heavy usage if needed. Wouldn't anything, no matter what service/app/etc that accepts inbound connections be considered a server. VPN into your home, that's a server. Connect to your slingbox, that a server. Connect to your home IP cameras, that's a server.

kpfx

join:2005-10-28
San Antonio, TX

Re: That's a Paddlin'

Back in my technical support days... the only time this clause in the TOS ever came up was when a customer scheduled a trouble-call and complained about being scheduled 2-3 days out; when they start to complain about how much money their loosing because clients can't connect to their webserver/ file server/ database/ etc that they have running at their home connection. Other than that, I can't recall ever hearing or reading of a customer getting disconnected just for running a "server" (infected virus spewing machines aside).

In reality there are different levels of use but the term "server" covers everything from big blades running CRM applications serving millions of users, down to the Internet camera at my house watching the dog sleep. It would be easier if there was some kind of ISO definition of a class of server... but there isn't.

But I think most agree there's a difference between running a dedicated email server, public file vault, website, virtual host, etc.... and running a private host for your little Minecraft game or accessing your private IP cameras, network hard-drive, home VPN, etc. There's just no way to "define" that without causing more legal issues.
CXM_Splicer
Looking at the bigger picture
Premium
join:2011-08-11
NYC
kudos:2

Re: That's a Paddlin'

said by kpfx:

In reality there are different levels of use but the term "server" covers everything from big blades running CRM applications serving millions of users, down to the Internet camera at my house watching the dog sleep. It would be easier if there was some kind of ISO definition of a class of server... but there isn't.

But I think most agree there's a difference between running a dedicated email server, public file vault, website, virtual host, etc.... and running a private host for your little Minecraft game or accessing your private IP cameras, network hard-drive, home VPN, etc. There's just no way to "define" that without causing more legal issues.

The easiest way is through the Upload speed (or upload cap) the ISP is offering. As long as a customer is paying for a particular service, it shouldn't matter if they want to host a server on it or not... what ever definition of 'server' you want to use.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

1 recommendation

I agree with what you say.

What you use the bandwidth you are paying for should not matter and there is no need to define what a server is because as you pointed out there are many things that function as one. How much bandwidth one may use over another is not relevant. If the ISP thinks you are abusing the network they have resources and means to deal with that on an individual basis.

The only issue should be as you pointed out the SLA time. With residential, you do not get any kind of SLA and should not expect it. If you dont like those terms and want to run a server, even for a business, then get a service that has the SLA you would need or want and pay those prices. Otherwise, deal with the outage if it occurs wishing you had gotten an SLA.

rchandra
Stargate Universe fan
Premium
join:2000-11-09
14225-2105
Yes, the whole ToS language is rather wonky and unqualified. What is a server? It is any software (or system) which accepts input and produces output, really. So if my router responds to ARP requests from TWC's router(s), I could be said to be running a server.

It's unfortunate ISPs choose to make such blanket statements, often without any explanation for the reasoning behind such policies. Besides, if the reason for banning servers is congestion control, THAT should be in the ToS, not servers specifically. Besides...not all servers produce bountiful upstream traffic. Take ESMTP for example; from my perspective, it's very close to all downstream traffic. And when I do send mail, what difference does it make whether I choose to relay through my ISP's email server or attempt delivery autonomously? It doesn't matter, at least from a congestion control standpoint.
--
English is a difficult enough language to interpret correctly when its rules are followed, let alone when a writer chooses not to follow those rules.

Jeopardy! replies and randomcaps REALLY suck!
me1212

join:2008-11-20
Pleasant Hill, MO

Its not like its ever stopped people from running servers

The vast majority of the game servers I play on are run on a residential account that "bans" servers. I play mostly with local irl friends, and all of us have residential accounts, no one has ever gotten anything from their isp about running a server.

I think that stuff is mostly there to stop people from running a server farm and making money off a residential account. If thats what this guy wants he should buy business class internet, which usually let you run servers.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

1 recommendation

Re: Its not like its ever stopped people from running servers

He can use it for what ever lawful use he wants regardless of profit or not. If they (the ISP) has an issue with the amount of bandwidth in use they can address that on an individual basis.

The only thing that should be an issue is an expected level of service. If they have a residential account they should have no expectation of up time beyond what is reasonable. If they want an SLA, they should pay for service that includes and the SLA is really the only difference between a residential and business account.

dmcnonanon

@sunflower.com

Re: Its not like its ever stopped people from running servers

Douglas McClendon here. I agree 100% with what Skippy25 just said here. I believe ISPs can offer varying SLAs that they feel most profitably exploit their infrastructure. What I believe they cannot do, is dictate what (otherwise lawful) traffic their customers conduct through their endpoint on the (as the FCC's Preservation Report and Order describes it "Open") "Internet". $0.02... (P.S. I can't seem to get a verification email to register here at bbr, tried a yahoo mail address and my own domain. dunno...)
brianiscool

join:2000-08-16
Miami, FL
kudos:1

Soo.

If you own 2 places in Kansas with 1GBps Google. You can not steam blue-ray video to the other location?
davidhoffman
Premium
join:2009-11-19
Warner Robins, GA
kudos:3

Re: Soo.

It would probably not get you in trouble to stream only one Blu-ray video. But if you had 100 different content streams transferring from one location to another it might.

BrainBlown

@173.227.18.x

Shut up and just use it

Holy crap! Why even bother. The service is so sweet. Just use it like you normally would when you had cable or dsl. Dang! If GF was in LA, I'll just be super happy that I got this kind of service for this kind of price. Some people will never be happy even if you make them the god of the universe. Sheesh!
dmc7

join:2013-07-26

Re: Shut up and just use it

I'm not asking the FCC or Google to make me "the god of the universe". I'm asking for my upstream and downstream internet traffic to be treated on equal terms with my neighbors, regardless of which of us is using it to talk to grandkids, watch funny cat videos, or run for profit openarena(GPLd quake3) and (nongambling)pokerth(.net) servers. Being able to do that with my service marketed as "internet service" would make me happy. Is that too much to ask?

tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Comcast

a quote from the manfesto

Google, Amazon, and other large (and many small) corporations have made countless billions
of dollars in the business of operating servers connected to the internet. Wikimedia/pedia as
well as countless educational institutions and even individuals have contributed to the mass of
life enhancing content available to all of us on the internet by hosting their own servers. All of
these servers provide innovative services to countless clients such as every webpage viewing
internet user.


Because ANYBODY has made money doing anything it does not follow the YOU get free bandwidth.
Google could offer you a rate based on peak bandwidth, or not.

Some of these "FREE" internet freaks are going to push too hard and kill the goose with the golden eggs.
personal greed is as bad as any "corporate greed" and the neighbors will bring torches.

DaSneaky1D
what's up
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-29
The Lou
Reviews:
·Charter

Search the ToS, they've removed it

Click for full size
Checking their ToS, you can't find any of the language accused of by the subscriber or the FCC.

kpfx

join:2005-10-28
San Antonio, TX

2 edits

Re: Search the ToS, they've removed it

It's in there. Follow the link in the section titled Using Google Fiber Services and you'll see this (image attached)

Here's the direct link....
»support.google.com/fiber/answer/···tx=topic

tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: Search the ToS, they've removed it

said by kpfx:

It's in there. Follow the link in the section titled Using Google Fiber Services and you'll see this (image attached)

Here's the direct link....
»support.google.com/fiber/answer/···tx=topic

I don't see any unreasonable language in your screenshot.
Why would anyone with the best internet deal in the world, CHOOSE to abuse it to the point of risking destroying it? not just for themselves,but everyone in KC and provo and texas and???
Someone should be kicking his ass right now
after all It's Google and everything is wide open and free
dra6o0n

join:2011-08-15
Mississauga, ON
Reviews:
·ITalkBB

Re: Search the ToS, they've removed it

If someone abused the internet to do something, then it's most likely something illegal.
Server based activities could be criminal if they decide to use it for such, and once that happens Google will know (they collect information on google fiber) and would alert the authorities.

DaSneaky1D
what's up
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-29
The Lou
Thanks for pointing that out. Seems a little strange that it wasn't more "up front" in their ToS.
34764170

join:2007-09-06
Etobicoke, ON

ToS and servers

I guess I'm lucky my ISP is perfectly fine with servers and I wouldn't want it any other way. Such clauses are ridiculous.

NathanO

join:2008-08-21
Moorestown, NJ

Amusing Claim

I read through some of the 53 page claim, and he really took some of it too literally. Every ISP has a "No Server" clause in their residential broadband ToS - this really means "No servers for commercial purposes". This person is claiming Google's ToS is blocking him from acting as a Game server, or making a Skype call, which really isn't the case. Most of his arguments center around IPv6 as being some magical cure that should allow him to be able to run servers because a lack of IP addresses is clearly the only reason ISPs don't allow running servers. Anyway, I digress, read through his 53 pages, some of it is pretty amusing.

A Google insider has already stated that Larry Page is opposed to the clause, and the CFO, Patrick Pichette told him it was only to prevent abuse from server farms / datacenters. Who they think is going to offer commercial services using experimental residential broadband from a residential location, I am not sure - but it is almost certainly just a CYA policy.

•••
Cobra11M

join:2010-12-23
Mineral Wells, TX

hmmm

I think personally, if isp's implement caps then people should be able to run servers!, theirs a down fall to that but hey it will get to that point where the consumer will love to be able to check on things at home and theirs only one way to do so.. im not talking blades, talking about home residential servers

Shad0wlore
Premium
join:2004-06-15
USA
Reviews:
·AT&T (Business S..
·Charter

1 recommendation

Douglas McClendon.. feel free to read some of his musings...

From all that I can read on this guy's Google+ page.. he's.. ughm..

Missing a few cards from his deck.

(Is that appropriate? I'd have preferred to use a number of 4-letter words)

»plus.google.com/104846107422140003469/posts

On August 19th of last year.. apparently he made it know that he wants to run online poker/gambling servers, apparently.

"see my timeline- let me serve pokerth via awesome shiny fiber google!"

So... the deck analogy is pretty accurate
dmc7

join:2013-07-26

Re: Douglas McClendon.. feel free to read some of his musings...

my only real problem with your comment is s/gambling/non-gambling/. I'm personally uninterested in debating the difference in relation to this issue right now. But don't try to paint me as something I'm not.
dmc7

join:2013-07-26

4 edits

Douglas McClendon here - a few clarifications

woohoo, I got a nonanonymous account finally.

Some factual clarifications-

- I moved out of Kansas City last december. July 15th or so of this year, Google finally got around to refunding my $10 pre-registration fee. They had ignored that as completely as my original complaint to their Fiber support team, which apparently lied when they said (by automated email) that they would respond to my complaint "soon".

- the author's name was mispelled. It's not Single, but "Ryan Singel, Founder of @contextly, an editorial tools company. Former editor of Wired.com's Threat Level blog."

- Karl Bode's opening sentence can trivially be shown to be misleading/false upon the inspection of TimeWarner's (and no doubt several other ISPs) current terms of service that absolutely do _not_ include any blanket prohibition against running servers. - "For as long as most of you can probably remember, your ISP's terms of service has prohibited you from running a server, given the more intensive bandwidth demands.". As to the latter clause, it bears repeating- "correlation does not imply causation".

NOYB
St. John 3.16
Premium
join:2005-12-15
Forest Grove, OR
kudos:1

What! No Waitresses Allowed?


So the "server" clause in ISP's ToS prohibit my wife and waitress daughters from using the service.

mmay149q
Premium
join:2009-03-05
Dallas, TX
kudos:48

I don't see why

With 1Gbps to the premises that Google just doesn't allow you to use servers (commercial grade or not) until you really start using a lot of bandwidth (Say a constant 500Mbps or 250Mbps + all the time?) and then at that point contact you and tell you "Either buy the business connection, or lose service" this would be much more understandable to me, I can see why with only 1 - 10Mbps upload that most ISP's have this kind of language in the ToS as most people never really use all of that on a constant basis anyway, but with a 1 Gbps "Trial" as Google put it to see how people would innovate, I'm not understanding how they could throw this language in there, kind of hard to try something if your connection is being throttled or QoS is slowing you down.

-Matt
--
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. -Albert Einstein

David
I start new work on
Premium,VIP
join:2002-05-30
Granite City, IL
kudos:101

bandwidth caps.. problem solved for google.

if they are going to limit it, why not just be up front and install a bandwidth cap? that would solve it I would think.

The bad part is, if I am thinking it, I am sure 99.999999999% the legal team for google is.

JimJoeBob

@rr.com

not yet serve and prolly never will now

Mr. McClendon, however, fails to make clear that he is not
(and could not yet become) a Google Fiber customer. He has merely signed up to receive service at an address in Kansas City, Kansas, that Google does not yet serve.


says it all