Northeastern University researchers looking to improve the transparency of mobile systems have developed an app for detecting traffic differentiation in mobile networks.
The release of the Differentiation Detector comes on the heels of the recent U.S. Federal Communications Commission vote to pass new net neutrality rules. The app will enable users to test whether Internet service providers (ISPs) are violating the law by blocking or throttling broadband access.
Mobile system expert David Choffnes and colleagues say the app utilizes a virtual private network (VPN) proxy to record traffic generated by arbitrary applications, such as YouTube or Netflix, and replays the traffic both with and without the VPN in order to identity differentiation. The free Android app also will help consumers choose the best service provider.
Over the next several months, the researchers plan to collect differentiation data from tens of thousands of users and develop a website to make their results public. "Giving users the chance to participate in revealing ISP practices will help us influence policy and help users make informed choices when selecting mobile providers," Choffnes says.
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