Saturday, August 02, 2008

FCC Rules Against Comcast In BitTorrent Blocking Case

In a precedent-setting decision the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ruled against Comcast, finding the cable operator in violation of net neutrality rules by a margin of 3-2, but it will not issue fines.

The FCC asserted a new authority and ordered the cable giant to stop certain practices that interfere with online traffic. At a meeting in Washington, the agency called Comcast's actions inconsistent with "an open and accessible Internet."

The ruling came following a complaint by Free Press and Public Knowledge as well as a petition for declaratory ruling, the Commission concluded that Comcast has unduly interfered with Internet users’ right to access the lawful Internet content and to use the applications of their choice. Specifically, the Commission found that Comcast had deployed equipment throughout its network to monitor the content of its customers’ Internet connections and selectively block specific types of connections known as peer-to-peer connections.

The Commission’s determination that Comcast was not engaging in reasonable network management is supported by the overwhelming weight of expert testimony in the record. For example, Professor David Reed of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, widely respected as one of the architects of the Internet, said that “[n]either Deep Packet Inspection nor RST Injection” — Comcast uses both to manage its network — “are acceptable behavior.”

The Commission announced its intention to exercise its authority to oversee federal Internet policy in adjudicating this and other disputes regarding discriminatory network management practices with dispatch, and its commitment in retaining jurisdiction over this matter to ensure compliance with a proscribed plan to bring Comcast’s discriminatory conduct to an end.
Under the plan, within 30 days of release of the Order Comcast must:
  • Disclose the details of its discriminatory network management practices to the Commission
  • Submit a compliance plan describing how it intends to stop these discriminatory management practices by the end of the year
  • Disclose to customers and the Commission the network management practices that will replace current practices
Source: (word doc/PDF)

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