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Comcast Appeals FCC Ruling

10 Sep, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Comcast has appealed an Aug. 1 ruling by the Federal Communications Commission that found the second largest Internet service provider (ISP) in the U.S. had selectively interfered with customers’ Web connections, including file-sharing services BitTorrent and Gnutella.

"We filed this appeal in order to protect our legal rights and to challenge the basis on which the [FCC] found that Comcast violated federal policy in the absence of pre-existing legally enforceable standards or rules," said David Cohen, Comcast EVP in a statement.

The FCC initiated an investigation earlier this year — reportedly the first of its kind against an ISP — following consumer complaints that Comcast deliberately impeded or throttled video uploads from peer-to-peer services.

In 2005 the FCC, as part of a net neutrality agreement with ISPs, issued an Internet Policy Standard that said consumers have the right to use content, legal applications and devices on the networks they use.

In addition, the FCC said ISPs must fully disclose to consumers the steps they take to accomplish "reasonable network management."

Comcast admitted it took action against select file-sharing services in order to control what it characterized as increased network traffic and congestion.

In an effort to stymie download abuse among its heaviest users, the Philadelphia-based cable operator said starting Oct. 1 it would cap monthly data downloading at 250GB per month.

Fred von Lohmann, senior attorney with the Electronic Frontier Association, a San Francisco-based civil liberties organization that helped bring the issue before the FCC, applauded the federal government’s stand — with a caveat.

Lohmann said the FCC’s decision to enforce Internet neutrality had been done with little or no cooperation with Congress. He said such jurisdiction could backfire against consumers in the future should the commission adopt a more pro-industry stance. br>
After all, a polar bear makes a great bodyguard, until it decides to eat you,” Lohmann said, in a statement.

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