I've just been reading the community library and an article of P2P and the Digital Economy Bill which says that Ofcom may be given powers to force ISPs to block downloaders and distributors of illegally copied material. On the face of it this may be a good thing but there could be unwanted and potentially catastrophic side effects of implementation of such legislation. For example... We have foreign students staying with us and some of them use P2P and most likely download/distribute illegally copied material (this is particularly true of Chinese, Russian and some other far eastern students). In theory, it ought to be possible to detect and block P2P by port number but that doesn't work because the software these students use breaks all the rules and uses every port number it can find - including those below 1024 and including port 80 which in our case provides our web site! It is thus impossible to block the traffic except by identifying the computer and blocking it by MAC address in the router. Identifying the traffic content is also impossible for the average residential user. Now, I would guess that the assumption is that a 'home user' will be regarded as singularly responsible for the activities on their network and that should any authority choose to investigate and block the service, they won't try to find the offending computer within the premises, but will block the service provided to the premises, thus affecting all the legitimate users as well as those downloading illegal material. Obviously, we don't want that to happen and I monitor our network traffic carefully but not being able to identify P2P positively and not knowing the content, it would appear to be impossible to police a residential network. Has anyone any ideas how policing might be achieved?
Well I suppose you could block all direct Internet access and only provide web access via a HTTP proxy server (a bit like some corporate environments, and the HTTP proxy server could also block certain websites).