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FCC head: Comcast has been deceptive

updated 03:05 pm EDT, Mon March 10, 2008

FCC: Comcast deceptive

Comcast may have already undermined its position in an ongoing government investigation, according to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Kevin Martin addressed the question in a recent speech at Stanford University Law School, where the subject of Comcast's peer-to-peer sabotage was raised. Martin said he was disturbed that Comcast initially denied throttling peer-to-peer content, only to later claim the practice was standard and necessary.

"A hallmark of what should be seen as a reasonable business practice is certainly whether or not the people engaging in that practice are willing to describe it publicly," says Martin.

Comcast has defended itself by saying that without traffic shaping, a minority of Internet users can hamper the quality of service for the majority, who do not use much peer-to-peer technology. Critics such as politicians and advocacy groups charge that the cableco is violating the FCC's net neutrality policy, which states that companies cannot give preferential treatment to the data passing through their wires -- much as phone companies cannot decide what conversations are important.

The Wall Street Journal observes that in his Stanford speech, Martin refused to say what penalties Comcast could face if found guilty. In the past, however, he has suggested fines as high as $195,000 for every subscriber impacted by illegitimate bandwidth controls.

By Electronista Staff


  1. danviento

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2005


    Pushing it

    Firstly, let me say $195k each is really pushing it. To say a business lost that much money on lost productivity due to slow downloads or transfers is ridiculous.

    However, since Comcast did not inform its users that this was part of the service, there are grounds for such penalties, unless they didn't guarantee a specific range of data rates in the contracts.

    The ethics of such practices aren't going to matter to a court. It's all going to come down to a contract on what is suspected of the provider and consumer. To penalize someone or some organization for actions that were "not nice" or "unusual," but not specifically breaking any laws is even more ridiculous.

    In the end, this will probably come down to lying about activies. If Comcast felt justified in its actions that weren't unlawful, they should have just said, "yes, we're doing that and here's why we should be..."

  1. robttwo

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2005


    "traffic reshaping"

    Comcast needs some a**-reshaping in the form of profit reshaping, after which there should be some board re-shaping.


  1. bhuot

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2003


    large files

    Many people like myself pay for Comcast Internet because we want to download large files and some of these are only available in bit torrent format. And I only download legal things mostly open source software and to claim that a technology is only used for stealing is ridiculous. The same rationale was used to propose a ban on CD-R media.

  1. climacs

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 2001


    common sense!

    wow, common sense from a government bureaucrat:

    '"A hallmark of what should be seen as a reasonable business practice is certainly whether or not the people engaging in that practice are willing to describe it publicly," says Martin.'

    If only this common-sense principle could be applied to Bush Administration policies.

  1. ZinkDifferent

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2005



    That's why they are called 'penalties' and not 'damages'

  1. climacs

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 2001


    re: ridiculous

    "to claim that a technology is only used for stealing is ridiculous."

    Indeed. Automobiles are used all the time to commit crimes. No one is suggesting they should be banned.

    And just try that argument out on anybody who owns a handgun, let me know how that works for ya.

  1. JackWebb

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2007



    the bush comment is unnecessary. Yes, I know you.

  1. nickgold2012

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2002



    If average citizens are going to be penalized many thousands of dollars for MAYBE making an MP3 available to other people on the internet, then yeah, I think $195K per violation on Comcast's part is acceptable. I think it's about time big businesses become the target for lying and cheating average Joes, and not decent to a point where the legal system is purely a tool for big business to rob the little guy.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    FTC is next!

    I say we class-action their asses over the "Comcastic!" tagline.

    Unless they define comcastic as "The feeling you get when you realized you've given your soul over to a pure evil company out to suck every dollar they can out of you!" Then it is spot on.

  1. ender

    Junior Member

    Joined: Mar 1999


    bandwidth caps

    This is all going to lead to bandwidth caps. If they are truly trying to prevent bandwidth hogs, as opposed to trying to block certain types of traffic, bandwidth caps will likely come into play sooner or later. Or worse yet, pay-per-MB. That would really mess up online digital sales/rentals.

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