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Consumer Groups Want Comcast Fined For Traffic Shaping
Consumers Union, others urge FCC to act immediately...
by Karl Bode 06:23PM Thursday Nov 01 2007 Tipped by jjoshua See Profile
A coalition of consumer groups urged the FCC today to investigate and punish Comcast for their traffic shaping practices. We've been talking about Comcast's use of Sandvine gear to disrupt BitTorrent traffic since August, but an AP report last month quickly thrust the topic into the mainstream. That attention led to Internet-wide criticism of Comcast, and gave network neutrality advocates new ammunition in a debate that had quieted down of late.

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Among the groups urging the FCC to act are the Free Press, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union (publishers of Consumer Reports), Media Access Project, Public Knowledge and professors at Yale, Harvard and Stanford law schools. In a complaint (pdf) filed by Free Press, the group asks the FCC to penalize Comcast to the tune of $195,000 per subscriber. From the complaint:
Comcast, the number two provider of high-speed Internet access, has been secretly degrading peer-to-peer protocols. Degrading these protocols undermines innovation and violates the FCC’s Internet Policy Statement, whose four principles guarantee consumers access to the content, applications, and services of their choice, as well as access to competition among network, applications, and content providers.
Given the current economic philosophy (and industry fealty) of the FCC majority, it would be very surprising if the commission does anything substantive to thwart Comcast's traffic shaping. The policy statement (pdf) cited by Free Press is not law, and the FCC and Comcast will simply argue Comcast's practices fall under the realm of "reasonable network management."

More succinctly, if you don't like it, vote with your wallet, because your government has been purchased. Of course, this assumes you have a choice of competing broadband services. But be assured, a government that allows its Department of Justice to be turned into a phone industry PR department is not focused on consumer welfare when it comes to network neutrality.

"Comcast’s defense is bogus," says Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press. "The FCC needs to take immediate action to put an end to this harmful practice. Comcast’s blatant and deceptive BitTorrent blocking is exactly the type of problem advocates warned would occur without Net Neutrality laws. Our message to both the FCC and Congress is simple: We told you so, now do something about it."

While many ISPs traffic shape, Comcast's practices have come under particular scrutiny because the ISP has not been forthcoming about specifics, and in some cases denied the practice altogether. Comcast has also employed monthly download limits without clarifying those limits to consumers, something that recently got Verizon Wireless in trouble with the NY Attorney General.

Consumer groups argue that Comcast's use of forged TCP packets to disrupt BitTorrent traffic is a dangerous precedent if allowed to continue. Given that Comcast video competitors use the protocol to deliver content to end users, it's likely a valid worry. Still, if we know the current FCC, it's going to take an outright blocking of content or services to get them to act -- something ISPs have carefully avoided.

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TCH lol


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reply to Rick

Re: Comcast Statement Regarding Petitions Filed With The FCC...

said by Rick:

Really? It seems quite clear to me. I'd highly doubt their executive VP would be making statements like that via press releases no less..that weren't true.
"I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

Big Russ, 1918 to 2008. Rest in Peace

New York, NY

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reply to karlmarx

Re: Wow

said by karlmarx:

Name ONE thing the bush regime has supported which is BENEFICIAL to the people of this country?
(Rubs hands in anticipation) It's funny you mention that, since if I am not mistaken YOU are directly benefiting from Bush's policies! That very high paying job you have right now seems to be treating you well, eh?

said by karlmarx:

I am DIRECTLY affected by the illegal actions of this puppet government, as I am in IRAQ, as SEE the effects the 'bush doctrine' has given the american people?
Yes you certainly are! That high salary you told us all about seems to be directly affecting you. What would you be doing now if this so-called "illegal war" wasnt going on? How much money would you be earning?

said by karlmarx:

Are YOU better off than you were 8 years ago?
Are'nt YOU?? Again, you mentioned numerous times how your current state of employment was a financial boon to you, and thats why you accepted the job.

Whats that sound you ask? Thats the sound of good solid logic smacking you upside the head! Its kind of humbling when your own words come back to solidify the position of another, isnt it? For someone who's income is directly related to the policies and actions of Bush and the United States, you certainly are an ungrateful SOB.

Ashburn, VA

2 recommendations

reply to Rob
I'll settle for $3000 per subscriber. Let's make a website so that Comcast can easily just pay these fines to each subscriber without going to court. Something similar to what what the RIAA does.

Complete Your Transaction


3 recommendations

reply to dervari2

Re: No other reasonable choices

right. so it's either get screwed with net neutrality violations by Comcast or get screwed with illegal spying by AT&T and the NSA.