Comcast ‘blocks’ an encrypted email service: Yet another reminder why net neutrality matters

March 13, 2018

For about twelve hours earlier this month, encrypted email service Tutanota seemed to fall off the face of the internet for Comcast customers.

Starting in the afternoon on March 1, people weren’t sure if the site was offline or if it had been attacked. Several tweets alerted the Hanover, Germany-based encrypted messaging provider to the alleged blockade, which showed a “connection timed out” message to Comcast users.

It was as if to hundreds of Comcast customers, Tutanota didn’t exist.

But as soon as users switched to another non-Comcast internet connection, the site appeared as normal

By March 2, the site was back, but the encrypted email provider was none the wiser to the apparent blockade. The company contacted Comcast for answers, but did not receive a reply.

When contacted, a Comcast spokesperson couldn’t say why the site was blocked—or even if the internet and cable giant was behind it. According to a spokesperson, engineers investigated the apparent outage but found there was no evidence of a connection breakage between Comcast and Tutanota. The company keeps records of issues that trigger incidents—but found nothing to suggest an issue. The spokesperson did not want to speculate further.

Even as recently as earlier this month, customers said Comcast’s so-called “protected browsing” was blocking access to everyday websites, like Steam and PayPal, which the internet giant flagged as “dangerous.” Not every customer faced the same issue; the protected browsing isn’t enabled by default.

Although the Federal Communication Commission’s repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules won’t come into effect until April 23, nobody’s quite sure what that post-net neutrality world will look like.

Comcast, for its part, has said in a pledge made on its website that, “we do not block, slow down, or discriminate” against lawful content. Ars Technica noted however that the company did not say it “won’t” block or slow down content in the future.

ZDNet has the full story