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Google Fiber Bans Servers

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Google Fiber Bans Servers

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Google's high-speed Internet service Google Fiber, like almost all Internet service providers, bans the use of servers, and at least one Internet group says that's discrimination.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation published a piece which assailed the practice -- which is common Terms of Service for ISPs such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast -- because Google is considered hypocritical for insisting on no server use yet has "spent years fighting to stop Internet Providers from discriminating between different types of Internet traffic," according to its website.

It cites a Wired piece where Google's network neutrality is questioned because its new ISP Terms of Service includes a ban on servers and this snippet:

Your Google Fiber account is for your use and the reasonable use of your guests. Unless you have a written agreement with Google Fiber permitting you do so, you should not host any type of server using your Google Fiber connection, use your Google Fiber account to provide a large number of people with Internet access, or use your Google Fiber account to provide commercial services to third parties (including, but not limited to, selling Internet access to third parties).

The language isn't very different from most other ISPs, but the EFF's disappointment is that Google used to the be a company against such arbitrary rules. The other reason is that the word "server" hasn't been clearly defined. Does that mean when you use a peer-to-peer service such as BitTorrent, when your computer is both a client and server? What about using Skype or Spotify?

EFF instead says that the rules exist not to really ban servers but instead to ban users and service they see as "troublemakers." That's why the definition is broad and unfair to users. 
 
But what if we want to run servers? Aren't customers paying for that right? People can run a mail server or VPN server and have no nefarious purpose, so why not charge a price for it and be done with the ban? As the EFF notes, users not only want better connection speeds but they want more freedom, too.

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