Comcast Sued For Traffic Meddling

Ars Technica is reporting that a California resident has sued Comcast for their traffic shaping shenanigans and is seeking class action status. He’s accusing Comcast of “breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and violating the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act.”

From Ars:

John Hart describes himself as a Comcast customer who has seen performance hits when using “Blocked Applications” targeted by Comcast’s traffic management application, Sandvine. In his complaint, Hart says that Comcast severely limits “the speed of certain internet applications such as peer-to-peer file sharing and lotus notes [sic].” Comcast accomplishes this by “transmitting unauthorized hidden messages” to the PCs of those using the applications.

Ars also says that Hart is upset about Comcast’s advertising, and that he claims he was not adequately informed of their traffic shaping policies when he signed up for high speed internet.

Comcast hit with class-action lawsuit over traffic blocking [Ars Technica]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Vipersfate says:

    It is nice to see this! About time!

  2. spevman says:

    Oh goody…I just knew it was only a matter of time before the lawsuits started and (most likely will) be escalated to class action status.

  3. CyberSkull says:

    I’ll be signing on if it reaches class action status.

  4. tedyc03 says:

    It’s about damn time.

  5. Trick says:

    Cool. The lawyers will get a ton of money. Comcast users will get one free month of service when you sign up for a one year contract and Comcast will use another service to block traffic.

    Wow, what a win-win-win for everyone!

  6. Trai_Dep says:

    Darn those lawyers for suing companies to stop them from sodomizing their customers under false pretenses. Damn them!

  7. “adequately informed”? Er… How about not informed at all…

  8. loueloui says:


    While I can’t comment on whatever reward the customers will get, if any, one important point of this while thing is he is also seeking an injunction preventing them from engaging in traffic blocking. This also establishes a legal precedent, if he is successful, and sends a warning to other ISPs not to screw around.

    I know for a fact my ISP uses traffic shaping, but it’s fairly mild, and easy to circumvent. Unless you’re doing some egregiously excessive downloading, and over a long period of time, you probably won’t ever come up against it.

  9. Buran says:

    @Papa Midnight: Oh yeah, that’s as inadequate as it gets.

  10. BigNutty says:

    Cha Ching! $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    Class Action Lawsuits are my second income. You just have to keep joining them (if they apply to you, which I make sure they do for me) because it takes about 18 months to get the money.

  11. jwcone says:

    I telecommute for the state job I have and one day comcast did some sort of ‘update’ so they said and it just happened to be around the time of this whole packet shaping thing and throttling of their internet — anyway none of us who telecommute who had comcast could access any secure site from the state — it was down for 4 hours — so when they said they don’t do anything to prevent you from accessing sites they are liars because they did — and when I called them to ask about it they denied everything — they said it was some problem with a router — hmm funny I could access other websites no problem — I also asked them about the usage cap they have and they wouldn’t give me a number no matter how hard I pressed — they just said you would have to have an enormous amount of usage to get close to the cap — but they wouldn’t put a number to it even though I pointed out that what they deem as enormous and what I deem is relative — oh well — atleast the rep was american and I could understand then.

  12. asherchang2 says:

    @loueloui: It would be so super awesome if this suit is successful and if the pushover democratic congress gets some chutzpa and denies the telecoms retroactive immunity. As unimaginably improbable that would be, the fall of Comcast would be so. f-ing. awesome.

  13. dirtymoney says:

    Ya know? I really dont see much of a point for class-action lawsuits. Most ones I have seen that involves customers who have been screwed over by a company have resulted in TINY almost insignificant gains. Its the lawyers that take home the REAL gains.

    Bad press would be just about the only good thing that comes out of class action lawsuits.

    And most companies would rather take the occassional lawsuit on the chin & STILL continue to fuck over their customers.

  14. dirtymoney says:

    …The last consumer classaction lawsuites I was involved in got me some additional minutes on my cellphone & … get this!…. a check for 13 cents!

    Yup 13 cents!

  15. mconfoy says:

    @dirtymoney: It got me over $3000 in back pay from the Federal Government, so one should not assume your one data point is representative of the norm. By going class action, the cost to Comcast will go up as the lawyers do know that there is much more money to win this one and will put in the extra effort to win big. Nothing wrong with that. And as in mine, I just had to sign a form to get my money. No lawyer of my own, no court, no significant effort.

  16. ne0shell says:

    Comcast needs to be launched from the face of the Earth.
    They decided to switch DNS the other night which caused my wireless router to become useless and when I called to ask what the new DNS IP’s were the stupid, uneducated ghetto queen answering the phones said “we don’t use DNS”. Of course I asked for a supervisor which got me 10 minutes added hold time and the same bitch coming back to tell me the supervisor was “too busy” but also agreed that “Comcast doesn’t have any DNS”. Oh well, using one of the root DNS servers instead not only improved my web performance but some of the traffic shaping went away.

  17. Trai_Dep says:

    @Trick: Yup. Might just as well curl in a fetal ball and let any large company pillage your house, take your women and eat your dog. Cuz you know, ANYone fighting them is simply a waste of time.

    Have a great life as a terminal, perpetual victim. Maybe if you’re a house servant, Massa will only flog you and your kids on weekends.

    Exactly why do you bother visiting this site again?

  18. FLConsumer says:

    I’d be nice if they’d stop blocking ports too. I know they’re blocking port 445, despite them claiming that they don’t.

  19. psm321 says:

    @ne0shell: Comcast usually assigns DNS servers through DHCP… unless you have some static ip business plan or something just release/renew should get you the new DNS servers as well.

  20. dirtymoney says:


    make that two data points

  21. viriiman says:

    @psm321: Ne0shell, try using OpenDNS. I’ve noticed site load faster once switching over.

  22. vastrightwing says:

    Thank you! I’ve also noted other ISP blocking FTP uploads in a similar way by having the other end close the connection on you. At least, Comcast is using false advertising by claiming they offer something they are not. However, I think what they are doing is plainly illegal.

  23. ttpmx says:

    @BigNutty: Yep, I can’t wait to get my $4.23 in 18 months either. :P

  24. Trick says:


    @Trick: Yup. Might just as well curl in a fetal ball and let any large company pillage your house, take your women and eat your dog. Cuz you know, ANYone fighting them is simply a waste of time.

    Have a great life as a terminal, perpetual victim. Maybe if you’re a house servant, Massa will only flog you and your kids on weekends.

    Exactly why do you bother visiting this site again?

    Oh poor me, the terminal victim!

    Class action lawsuits are legalized scams. But don’t let that little fact ruin the fantasy of wealth, women and success shrink from that positive lifestyle you life. We would all just be devastated if you lost your faith in man, lawyer and vindication.

    Since when did The Consumerist become The Class Actionist?

  25. mantari says:

    Cox is trying this out in certain markets, now.

  26. GearheadGeek says:

    @Trick: The point of any valid lawsuit should be to punish the defendant and to redress any actual harm done to the plaintiff. In this and many other class-action cases, the actual harm to each individual defendant is fairly small, and the main point becomes to punish the defendant and deter future bad behavior.

    Too many Americans think that a lawsuit is like winning the lotto, you just have to sue rich enough defendants to collect big bucks and buy that Cadillac. I’m not saying the lawyers aren’t taking more than their fair share, but they’re LAWYERS. If you don’t expect them to do that, you haven’t been paying much attention lately.

  27. jeffeb3 says:

    I don’t know much about class action lawsuits, but it seems to me that there should be some way for people to band together, and them negotiate the price for the lawyers. Maybe have a bid war or something between them. I’d like to see something like a percentage of the final payout going to them. But that percentage decreases as the payout gets larger, so they get diminishing returns on it. At any rate, 40-50% of the pot going to a dozen lawyers with millions of plaintiffs makes no sense.

  28. jeffeb3 says:

    Oh, and I hate you comcast. I forgot to say that. I hope you crumble.

  29. m0unds says:

    Could we stop using “NET NEUTRALITY” as a tag for these articles? It’s still not a Net Neutrality issue in the slightest. Maybe Network Management or Irresponsible P2P, but not Net Neutrality AT ALL.

  30. BigNutty says:

    TTPMX, I get your joke, and I’m sure there are situations like that out there.

    I do laugh at those settlements where the lawyers and the one person they put as the head of the class action lawsuit get all the money and all the rest get nothing except the satisfaction that the company in question is going to change their bad ways.

    I’ve never heard of Class Action participants getting a check for .13 cents. How stupid is that as it costs more for the stamp and processing.

    I just received a notice from a law firm to see if I have been to a Taco Bell that has installed those “cattle line” barriers.

    We will see what happens with that one.

  31. mconfoy says:

    @Trick: uh since it costs you no money to join, how is it a scam bright guy?

  32. healthdog says:

    @BigNutty: Verizon math FTW! .13 cents?

  33. Akamaru says:

    Where do I sign!? Someone give me a pen.

    They’d better tack on a false advertisement amendment to the suit. I don’t know what language Comcast speaks, but the word “unlimited” doesn’t meet the English Language definition in the context of their bandwidth sales pitches.


    Par for the course service. I had some greasy guy come into my house to install our service a few months ago. They guy saw fit to man-handle my custom build PC. He couldn’t get over the fact that PC TV tuners have coaxial cable connectors. It was a good waste of 40 minutes of my life. I ended up getting tired of him poking around aimlessly. I set up the service myself and told him to leave.

  34. XianZomby says:

    Bit Torrent? Yeah. I know there’s some people that use it for work. Sure. Some. But everybody else is using it to illegally download movies and music and software. And I dont’ feel a bit sorry for them if Comcast cuts them off. I’ve got Comcast. This doesn’t affect me at all. And I’ve had great service for five years now. Smallest violin in the world for the people that are no longer able to steal music and think the first amendment entitles them to do so. Your freedom is being violated because Comcast said “unlimited” but now you can’t download 10 gigs a day of stolen movies from Korea? Pity you. Smallest violin ever.

  35. nxp3 says:

    I’ll sign it too, that’ll teach those fukker to mess with our internet connection. Those people defending comcast….you’re iddiots. It’s false advertising to sell you unlimited internet at a higher price and then limit you somehow. I mean we could have went with limited high speed for a lower price.

  36. Xkeeper says:

    @xianzomby: Obviously, you haven’t seen one of the perfectly legal things BitTorrent is used for, such as distribution of Linux distros or large, distributed patches ala World of Warcraft.

    That, and I also have a perfectly legal reason to use over 10GB of bandwidth (1+GB of a site backup weekly + smaller ones daily), so unless you’re trying to tell me that I’m aparrently downloading an illegal copy of something every time I retrieve a backup…

    In short, just because it “doesn’t affect you” doesn’t mean that it’s completely harmless.