updated 03:15 pm EDT, Thu November 1, 2007
Groups unite vs. Comcast
A number of consumer groups and legal scholars have united to petition the FCC over Comcast's bandwidth policies, the Associated Press reports. The news organization recently uncovered that Comcast has been sabotaging BitTorrent traffic, slowing it down or preventing it from functioning at all. Consumers Union, Media Access Project, the Consumer Federation of America and professors from Yale, Harvard and Stanford's law schools have come forward, asking the FCC to label Comcast in violation of government policy; two more groups, Free Press and Public Knowledge, are asking for a $195,000 fine per affected subscriber.
An executive VP with Comcast, David Cohen, has responded by saying that FCC policies acknowledge a need to control network traffic. The company has in the past admitted to "delaying" BitTorrent traffic, but insists it is unavoidable, since even a small number of file sharers can slow an entire network.
Comcast's bandwidth control may however constitute a violation of net neutrality, a policy espoused by the FCC and many non-governmental organizations, stating that all Internet traffic should be handled equally. The difficulty is that neutrality has not been a legal obligation since 2005, leaving open the possibility that no action may be taken against Comcast.