Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Craigslist is being blocked by Cox Interactive - is this a net neutrality issue?

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 6, 2006


Is this what the loss of net neutrality will bring?

An SVW reader left this tip:

I use Cox cable internet, Cox's media empire printed classifieds is one of their big revenue drivers. Guess what? If you try to access Craigslist over Cox Cable internet... its nearly impossible! It appears that they throttle access to craigslist - as a matter of fact there have been a zillion complaints but hey, who can blame Cox? They're trying to stop the opening cap in their money dam! Maybe you should investigate this tip further. Cheers

I did investigate further, I walked out of my apartment and across Alamo Square and popped in on Jim Buckmaster, the CEO of Craigslist. Jim was just getting back from work and I spoke with Susan Best, publicist for Craigslist. Susan said they have known about the problem with Cox.

Jim soon arrived and said the problem of access had been going on since late February. It had something to do with the security software that Cox isusing from a company called Authentium.

Cox has been collaborating with Authentium since April 2005 to develop the security software suite.

Back on February 23rd Authentium acknowledged that their software is blocking Craigslist but it still hasn't fixed the problem, more than three months later. That's a heck of long time to delete some text from their blacklist. [UPDATE: I assumed there was a blacklist-I have no idea how Craigslist is being blocked but Authentium admits its software has blocked Craigslist.] And this company also supplies security software to other large ISPs.

Craigslist has approached Authentium several times to get it to stop blocking access by Cox internet users but it has been unresponsive. Jim wasn't aware that Cox had its own classified ads service. "That changes things, " he said.

This situation does not look good in the context of the net neutrality debate. This is exactly the kind of scenario that many people are concerned about, that the cable companies and the telcos will make it difficult for their internet users to access competing services.

Here are Craigslists' system reports: If you scroll down you can see the Cox problem, and there are quite a few problems with others too: email with SBC, and also with Yahoo and BT Internet. Are those problems also related to the telcos using software that discriminates against Craigslist?

Some more related links:
From Newspapers and Technology: Cox papers adding interactive features to classifieds Sept 2005

Take a look at this story about Cox refusing to run AP video. Is it fighting for open standards are is it fighting off a competitor with a poor revenue split?
From Mark Glaser's MediaShift: Cox Newspapers Says No to AP Video

Are the telcos funding an online campaign against net neutrality? Take a look at this recent post from Mark Glaser's MediaShift: Bloggers Must Be Vigilant Against Astroturf Comments

Here is the Cox Communications site, it's called Safe is Beautiful(!)


Here is a video sent to me by writer/director Stefano Boscutti:
SAVE THE INTERNET

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