Comcast Faces FCC Sanctions for Blocking Web Traffic
Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, violated federal guidelines when it blocked and degraded Web traffic, the head of the Federal Communications Commission will announce Friday.
The sanctions would be the first time the commission has come down on an internet provider for denying consumers the right to open, unfettered internet access. It may set a precedent on how the federal government oversees management of internet traffic flows in the future.
Last fall, Comcast reluctantly acknowledged that it had temporarily blocked certain peer-to-peer traffic (file sharing). The cable giant called its actions "reasonable network management."
But consumer rights groups and internet experts accused the company of violating the F.C.C.'s 2005 "Internet Policy Statement," which established four principles intended to guarantee consumers unfettered access to all legal Web content, applications, and services.
The chairman of the F.C.C., Kevin Martin, now agrees.
"The commission has adopted a set of principles that protects consumers' access to the internet," he told the Associated Press on Thursday night. "We found that Comcast's actions in this instance violated our principles."
The consumer advocacy group Free Press trumpeted Martin's decision as a victory for consumers.
"This is going to be a bellwether," said Ben Scott, federal policy chief for Free Press.