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Comcast may face FCC fines over BitTorrent blocks

updated 09:55 am EST, Wed January 9, 2008

Comcast FCC Investigation

Comcast is under investigation and could be subject to fines over its tactics of throttling BitTorrent traffic on its cable Internet service, the Federal Communications Commission has revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show. FCC chair Kevin Martin acknowledged that it was looking into complaints from advocacy groups and lawyers, both of which accuse Comcast of violating basic principles of network neutrality by preferring certain data types over others. If found to be violating FCC rules, the cable provider could face fines as high as $195,000 for every affected subscriber, Martin claims.

The Internet provider has typically denied any blocking attempts despite an Associated Press investigation proving the contrary. Comcast at first claimed no interference whatsoever but later admitted that it was "delaying" BitTorrent and a handful of peer-to-peer services using the Gnutella network. The technique is said to involve software from SandVine that severs the link between peers if certain transfer conditions are met, reducing the number of peers available in a BitTorrent transfer and blocking some Gnutella transfers outright.

A date has not been set for when the FCC hopes to complete its investigation, though Comcast says that it 'looks forward' to responding to any requests from the FCC to cooperate with the investigation.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    no big deal

    Comcast subscribers, however, should be looking forward to another rate hike (I know, and how is this different then the others???)

  1. bhuot

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    sue them out of business

    Good. These tactics are another one of the irrational - it can be used to steal so therefore no one can use the technology no matter what they use it for. I have never downloaded illegal content. But there are times when a Linux distribution is only available via bit torrent and I have not been able to download and use it although it is perfectly legal. A while back, the same types of people were trying to outlaw CD-Rs because they claimed people only used them for illegally copying music. I and many others use them to back up files and share my own work with others as well as using them to burn a Linux installation disk.

  1. dynsight

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Not under Bush

    Although there will be talk of fines, there will not be any penalties under the Bush (Kiss Big Business Butt) administration.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re: not under bush

    Yet it was his FCC chief who tried to get more regulation of the cable industry recently, but was voted down.

  1. horvatic

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    I hope this is true!

    I sure hope this is true. And I hope they get fined big time as a warning to all other internet service providers like AT&T and others. If people are paying for a service they should be getting what they paid for period!

  1. unity@mac.com

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re: not the bush

    "Yet it was his FCC chief who tried to get more regulation of the cable industry recently, but was voted down."

    While the FCC has been "harsh" to Comcast, it has to do with net neutrality.

  1. Mr. Strat

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Cable sucks

    I kicked Comcast out of my house back in 2001 and got a dish. Their Internet service is way too expensive and restrictive (just ask anyone who extensively uses newsgroups).

    The local Comcast office is right across the street from my house, and when they look out of their office windows, they get a view of the backside of my satellite dish. :-)

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: i hope this is true

    I sure hope this is true. And I hope they get fined big time as a warning to all other internet service providers like AT&T and others. If people are paying for a service they should be getting what they paid for period!

    But don't think this will be the end of it. It's easy to foresee their 'unlimited' service being more limited with nice fine print and other exceptions/restrictions.

    h***, maybe they'll 'tier' their service. Basic internet, $50. Add Bittorrent for $14.95. Want Limewire/Gnutella? That adds another $10. Both with daily usage limits. Or get PPD (pay-per-download) for just $2 (it's Comcastic!).

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    nail on the head

    :D

    Nice one testudo. That is very possibly the route they will take, no matter how annoyingly messed up it might be for the customer.

  1. Terrin

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Interesting

    The FCC is interested in Cable registration so it can fine cable operators under the same arbitrary rules for alleged indecent material. Currently, public ariwaves are regulated under the theory they are public. The same argument doesn't hold true for private Cable.

    Moreover, such regulation would be a means to implement censorship indirectly. Since it is impossible to determine what indecent material is and the rules are unfairly enforced, often broadcasters are forced to curb speech to be safe. The FCC used these rules to force Howard Stern to Satellite.

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