FCC Hammers Comcast For Deception and Unreasonable Internet Practices

by on August 1, 2008 · 13 comments

WASHINGTON, August 1 – The Federal Communication Commission’s enforcement action against Comcast can be seen either as a limited response to a company’s deceptive practices, or a sweeping new venture by the agency into regulating internet policy.

In ruling against Comcast on Friday, the agency ordered the company to “disclose the details of its discriminatory network management practices,” “submit a compliance plan” to end those practices by year-end, and “disclose to customers and the [FCC] the network management practices that will replace current practices.”

At issue in the decision was whether Comcast had engaged in “reasonable network management” practices when it delayed and effetively blocked access to users of BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer software program.

Although BitTorrent had already settled its complaints with Comcast, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said that FCC action was necessary because the complaint had been brought by Free Press and Public Knowledge, two non-profit groups. The FCC did not impose a fine.

Martin said that he viewed the agency’s decision to punish the cable operator as a quasi-judicial matter: a “fact-intensive inquiry” against a specific company that it found to have “selectively block[ed]” peer-to-peer traffic.

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  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/2008/05/25/ministry-of-truth-at-the-tlf/ enigma_foundry

    Thanks for this more balanced piece, which instead of claiming the FCC is trying to engage in a “crusade against Comcast” or is”Hijacking the Internet” describes accurately what this is about: deceptive practices by a single company.

    It would be good though too to extract exactly what Public KNowledge and Free Presses complaints were, given that so much has been written here that doesn’t actually mention their complaints, but would lead one to believe that this was a unilateral action on the part of the FCC…

    The free speech issues that arise when a near monopoly undertakes secret, selective and discriminatory policies when they mange their networks are probably at the center of these complaints.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    Thanks for this more balanced piece, which instead of claiming the FCC is trying to engage in a “crusade against Comcast” or is”Hijacking the Internet” describes accurately what this is about: deceptive practices by a single company.

    It would be good though too to extract exactly what Public KNowledge and Free Presses complaints were, given that so much has been written here that doesn’t actually mention their complaints, but would lead one to believe that this was a unilateral action on the part of the FCC…

    The free speech issues that arise when a near monopoly undertakes secret, selective and discriminatory policies when they mange their networks are probably at the center of these complaints.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Whether Comcast was deceptive or not is an interesting question, but it doesn’t relate the much more interesting question regarding which management techniques are going to be permitted by Kevin Martin’s FCC and which aren’t.

    So far the only result of this enquiry is a green light for metered pricing. Higher prices for lower service, courtesy of Public Knowledge and Free Press.

    Whoopee!

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Whether Comcast was deceptive or not is an interesting question, but it doesn’t relate the much more interesting question regarding which management techniques are going to be permitted by Kevin Martin’s FCC and which aren’t.

    So far the only result of this enquiry is a green light for metered pricing. Higher prices for lower service, courtesy of Public Knowledge and Free Press.

    Whoopee!

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    Whether Comcast was deceptive or not is an interesting question

    And a very important one too, on which the future class action lawsuits will undoubtable hinge…

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    Whether Comcast was deceptive or not is an interesting question

    And a very important one too, on which the future class action lawsuits will undoubtable hinge…

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