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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