Consumer Groups Ask FCC To Ban Comcast From Blocking Any Peer-To-Peer Activity

Advocacy groups and legal scholars filed a network neutrality complaint with the FCC today against Comcast, asking the government to issue a temporary injunction against the cable company that forces it to “stop degrading any applications. Upon deciding the merits, the Commission should issue a permanent injunction ending Comcast’s discrimination.” More importantly, the complaint asks the FCC to classify any blocking of peer-to-peer file sharing as a violation of the agency’s Internet Policy Statement, “four principles issued in 2005 that are supposed to ‘guarantee consumers competition among providers and access to all content, applications and services.’”

“Comcast’s blatant and deceptive BitTorrent blocking is exactly the type of problem advocates warned would occur without net neutrality laws,” Ben Scott, policy director at Free Press, also in Washington, said in a statement. “Our message to both the FCC and Congress is simple: We told you so, now do something about it.”

“Comcast Hit with FCC Network Neutrality Complaint” [eWeek]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. Protector says:

    It’ll never happen. The FCC doesn’t regulate cable or the Internet.

  2. BigNutty says:

    I think only pressure of some kind from the public or Congress will cause them to budge. Can you imagine if somehow all consumers got together and decided to drop Comcast. Do you think it could put them out of business?

    What if this consumer group decided to take on every unfair business with this type of tactic?

    I know, it’s just a fantasy of mine, but with grassroots organizing, anything is possible. Why do you think my name is BigNutty?

  3. 7j6cei says:

    “Comcast was unavailable for comment, and the FCC does not comment on active complaints.”

    Really, Comcast was “unavailable”; or did this person just give up after being “on hold” for an hour, getting their call droped 3 times, and being told someone would call them back with out a return call.

    LMAO LMAO LMAO LMAO LMAO

  4. djyox says:

    @ 7J6CEI

    I think we’ll go with option “B”. To be honest, I never read up on what net neutrality even is… I guess I have some googling to do…

  5. matdevdug says:

    Um, in the current political climate no sane lawmaker is going to waste any time on peer-to-peer networks, the vast majority of whose traffic is composed of illegal downloads. There are so many more important things going on in the world right now than people being able to download the latest CD for free.

    Then again we live in a nation where the greatest protest of all time was mounted over the switch from Coke to New Coke. As for those 5% or less who use peer-to-peer networks for legal material, I’m sorry but I would just switch providers. The FCC is dealing with a number of issues of their reach, and Comcast has a number of strong political allies. No way an organization that is already being seen as somewhat too powerful in a future dominated by the Internet is going to reach out to internal business practices. This dies fast and early.

  6. Finder says:

    @matdevdug: Comcast is the only available choice in a surprising amount of areas so it isn’t as easy as “just switch[ing] providers”. The whole “there are so many more important things going” argument is the biggest cop out ever. Yes, there are tragedies occurring all over but that doesn’t mean we should ignore everything else. The fact some bit torrent traffic is used for illegal downloads is moot as there are plenty of legal uses not to mention Comcast was also impacting users of Lotus Notes and Google in some cases! Let them get away with this and you’ll start seeing more traffic shaping…maybe next time it will affect you and you’ll be sorry you dismissed this issue for all the other “important things going on in the world” I’m sure you’re spearheading efforts to help. Give me a break.

  7. bonzombiekitty says:

    @djyox:
    Basic idea of net neutrality is that if a packet of data is passed through a given network it is treated the same as all other packets regardless of who it is from or where it is destined to. I should also be allowed to use any sort of device I want to communicate over that network (i.e. your network shouldn’t prohibit, say, Apple products from working)

    It’s to keep network providers from doing things like having certain websites/networks/protocols pay a fee to have their data travel through the network faster, or keeping them from purposely slowing down packets from websites/networks/protocols they don’t like. But that doesn’t apply to malicious traffic.

    Network providers will argue that they own the networks and can do what they want with them, and that net neutrality makes bandwidth use really high and is too expensive for them. Creating more bandwidth is a lot more expensive than simply tightening the valve on the flow of certain traffic.

    Net neutrality supporters argue that not abiding by net neutrality will essentially destroy the internet. The reason the internet has become what it is, is because everyone is on equal footing, they only need to pay for their side of the delivery system and not for the other end and everything in between. If I start a website, I only need to worry about my own local network and the machines on it and my connection to my ISP (let’s say it’s Comcast). I shouldn’t have to worry about needing to pay Verizon, which some of my users may be using, a fee to have my content delivered in a timely manner. Nor should I have to worry about any network providers between the two.

  8. Shadowfire says:

    @7j6cei: They were blocked for 10 minutes, then the response was so slow, the caller just hung up to avoid being bored to death.

  9. danman81 says:

    I have one thing to say. Verizon DSL!!!

  10. Does anyone know if Comcast is the only one doing this? How do you know for sure your traffic is being shaped?

  11. vladthepaler says:

    I’ve never used a peer-to-peer app. But this sort of thing is exactly why we need legislation that explicitly protects net neutrality.

  12. flairness says:

    I canceled my Comcast subscription yesterday. Hopefully lots of others are doing the same thing.

  13. Geekybiker says:

    You want to be scared, look up “deep packet inspection” Its now cheap enough that most ISPs will be able to implement it.

  14. m0unds says:

    i still don’t understand why p2p poisoning is being bundled in with the more important issue of net-neutrality. comcast is killing p2p traffic that’s saturating its network. i think they’re totally within their rights to stop unresponsible p2p activity.

  15. @bonzombiekitty: Great quick explanation, thanks! Also, your user name is funny.

  16. Leiterfluid says:

    While most people might thing this is a good idea on its face, I worry about this kind of request being to vague, and the unintended consequences.

    For example, VoIP traffic, such as those generated by Vonage, or the cable company’s own digital voice service might be required to “be treated the same” as all other packets. This would mean that applications like BitTorrent could make streaming voice and video applications worthless. It flies in the face of the intent of QoS (Quality of Service) and CoS (Class of Service) definitions for internet traffic.

    While I agree that comcast should not be further throttling BitTorrent traffic any more than it would POP or SMTP, they should be allowed to classify and prioritize traffic based on accepted QoS practices.

  17. bunnymen says:

    @bonzombiekitty: That was the most understandable explanation of net neutrality I have ever read. Thank you.

  18. SexCpotatoes says:

    Comcast Exec: “Uh oh, the Consumerist is onto us, time to change the Internet Policy Statement.”

  19. Zero327 says:

    I smell BS. Here’s the PR statement in the Comcast forums, dancing aroung the issue as they are dragged kicking and screaming to the FCC:

    Managing the Network to Support our Customers [ NEW ] [ Edited ] Options

    DamienAdmin
    Administrator
    Posts: 2
    Registered: 09-12-2007

    Message 1 of 1

    Viewed 338 times

    There have been many news reports speculating about how Comcast manages it network. It is important for us to provide you with the facts.

    First, and most importantly, our customers have unfettered access to all the content, services, and applications on the Web. They use the Internet for downloading and uploading files, watching movies and videos, streaming music, sharing digital photos, accessing numerous peer-to-peer sites, VOIP applications like Vonage, and thousands of other applications online.

    It’s also important that we make something very clear: Comcast does not block access to any Web site or applications, including peer-to-peer (P2P) services like BitTorrent. We also do not discriminate based on the type of content.

    So, what do we do? We use the latest technologies to manage our network so that our customers continue to enjoy these applications. We do this because we feel it’s our responsibility to provide all of our customers with a good Internet experience.

    As numerous studies show, peer-to-peer activity consumes a disproportionately large amount of network resources, and therefore poses the biggest challenge to maintaining a good broadband experience for all users – including the overwhelming majority of our customers who don’t use P2P applications.

    We never prevent P2P activity, or block access to any P2P applications, but rather manage the network in such a way that this activity does not degrade the broadband experience for other users. Network management is absolutely essential to ensure the health of our network for all of our customers. All major ISPs manage their traffic in some way and many use similar tools.

    Network management helps us protect our customers from things like spam, viruses, the negative effects of network congestion, or attacks to their PCs. As threats on the Internet continue to grow, we will do everything we can to ensure that our network management tools evolve and keep pace so that we continue to maintain a good, reliable online experience for our customers.

    Mitch Bowling
    Senior Vice President
    Comcast Online

    Message Edited by DamienAdmin on 10-23-2007 04:45 PM
    10-23-2007 01:37 PM