Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/02/savetheinternet_tells_fcc_to_slap_comcast_for_bittorrent_bagging/

SaveTheInterneters to save the internet from Comcast

'No more BitTorrent busting'

By Cade Metz

Posted in Broadband, 2nd November 2007 19:28 GMT

Members of the SaveTheInternet.com Coalition hope to save the internet from Comcast.

Joining forces with a few internet-savvy legal scholars, several of the coalition's spunky public advocates have formally asked the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to prevent America's second largest ISP from secretly throttling peer-to-peer traffic.

They think Comcast is undermining net neutrality.

SaveTheInternet's Fake Comcast Ad

An ad for something other than Comcast

Earlier this month, nationwide tests by The Associated Press proved that Comcast was actively interfering with attempts to swap files over P2P networks like BitTorrent, eDonkey, and Gnutella. And similar accusations date all the way back to last spring.

Comcast claims that it's merely "managing" traffic in an effort to provide users with really awesome internet service. But this doesn't sit too well with several members of SaveTheInternet, including Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the Media Access Project. These net rescuers have long urged the US government to adopt laws that would prevent ISPs from discriminating against certain kinds of net traffic.

"Comcast’s defense is bogus," said Free Press policy director Ben Scott. "The FCC needs to take immediate action to put an end to this harmful practice. Comcast’s blatant and deceptive BitTorrent blocking is exactly the type of problem advocates warned would occur without Net Neutrality laws. Our message to both the FCC and Congress is simple: We told you so, now do something about it."

Management schmanagement

In filing a "Petition for Declaratory Ruling" with the FCC, these SaveTheInterneters have asked the feds to acknowledge that BitTorrent bagging violates their "Internet Policy Statement" - a 2005 effort to protect the rights of users online.

"In 2005, when the FCC adopted an order reclassifying wireline broadband as an information service, it sought to ensure that network providers of Internet service, like phone and cable companies, would not violate network neutrality," the petition reads.

"Consumers are entitled to access all applications, services, and content of the consumer’s choice, and entitled to competition among providers of networks, applications, services, and content."

The FCC's policy statement includes a footnote that says ISPs have the right to practice "reasonable network management," but the public advocates insist this doesn't apply when a provider "intentionally degrades" net applications.

Footnote fetish

Of course, Comcast is doing its best to find shelter under this footnote. "We engage in reasonable network management to provide all of our customers with a good Internet experience, and we do so consistently with FCC policy," reads a canned statement from David L. Cohen, Comcast executive vice president.

"As the FCC noted in its policy statement in 2005, all of the principles to encourage broadband deployment and preserve the nature of the Internet are 'subject to reasonable network management.' The Commission clearly recognized that network management is necessary by ISPs for the good of all customers.”

But this hasn't deterred the SaveTheInterneters. With a separate FCC complaint, they urge the commission to crack down on Comcast specifically. "Comcast, the nation’s number two provider of high-speed Internet access, is blatantly violating the FCC’s Internet Policy Statement by degrading a range of peer-to-peer applications," the complaint reads.

"It falsely denied degrading peer-to-peer applications and now continues to degrade applications without informing users and while advertising access to the 'internet.' The FCC should immediately enjoin this discrimination and impose forfeitures on Comcast."

The complaint also asks the FCC to adopt umbrella fines for ISPs that exhibit Comcast-like behavior. As an organization spokeswoman told us, the SaveTheInterneters don't want this to happen again. ®