FCC May Vote On Complaint That Comcast Wrongly Blocking BitTorrent - InformationWeek

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7/28/2008
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FCC May Vote On Complaint That Comcast Wrongly Blocking BitTorrent

Comcast maintains that its network management practices do not violate government guidelines.

The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote Friday on whether the government believes Comcast wrongly blocked or degraded Internet traffic.

The FCC plans to meet Friday to discuss the complaint filed by consumer groups and other technology companies alleging that Comcast deliberately slowed network traffic and specifically targeted peer-to-peer file sharing.

Comcast has been accused of violating federal regulations regarding "reasonable network management" by jamming users attempting to share files via the BitTorrent protocol over its cable modems. Net neutrality activist groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Free Press say that amounts to discrimination against specific applications -- something FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has frowned upon.

Comcast consistently has denied the allegations and maintained that it only slowed traffic to manage networks during peak times.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that a majority of FCC commissioners believe Comcast violated federal policy. The FCC will prohibit the company from slowing or blocking traffic and require it to explain its practices to its customers, according to the report.

Critics filed formal complaints with the FCC saying that Comcast had blocked users from sharing files. They said that the company violated the principles of network neutrality outlined in an earlier FCC decision.

Perhaps the most vocal group to criticize the cable provider, Public Knowledge, issued a statement praising the FCC.

"The Federal Communications Commission has apparently voted to punish Comcast for violating the commission's open Internet principles," Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, said in the statement. "This is good news for consumers and Internet users. Comcast knowingly blocked lawful Internet use and denied it. The fact that the commission is willing to stand up for its principles and for Internet users is a good sign that the concept of net neutrality is alive and well in Washington."

The FCC placed the issue on its Aug. 1 agenda.

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