Bipartisan FCC Majority Condemns Comcast's Illegal Blocking

Contact Info: 
Jen Howard, Free Press, (202) 265-1490, x22 or (703) 517-6273

WASHINGTON -- Today, the Federal Communications Commission published an enforcement order punishing Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, for blocking Internet users' access to legal online content and services.

The order, approved by a bipartisan majority on Aug. 1, requires Comcast to stop its ongoing practice of blocking Internet content by the end of the year and disclose all "network management" practices.

The Communications Act has long established the FCC's legal authority to promote the broad goals of competition, consumer choice and diverse information across all communications platforms. In 2005, the FCC unanimously adopted an "Internet Policy Statement" explicitly guaranteeing Internet users the right to access the lawful content, applications and services of their choice.

Last fall, the Associated Press caught Comcast secretly blocking users' legal peer-to-peer traffic, calling the company's practice the "most drastic example yet of data discrimination." In response, Free Press and Public Knowledge filed a complaint, triggering the first test case of the FCC's policy statement. This order concludes the FCC's months-long investigation, which included two public hearings at Harvard and Stanford universities and more than 50,000 public comments.

Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, issued the following statement:

"This order marks a major milestone in Internet policy. For years, the FCC declared that it would take action against any Internet service provider caught violating the online rights guaranteed by the agency. Today, the commission has delivered on that promise.

"The FCC's action confirms that it is illegal for Internet service providers to block or impede access to lawful online content. This clear legal precedent signals that the future of the Net Neutrality debate will be over how, not whether, to protect users' right to unfettered Internet access.

"Contrary to the claims made by Comcast and others, the FCC is well within its authority to protect the open Internet, either by adopting rules or acting on complaints. It is the FCC's responsibility to promote openness, free speech and competition -- the bedrock goals of the Communications Act.

"Standing on the solid legal foundation established today by the FCC, Internet users must remain vigilant in defending an open Internet. Cable and phone companies would now be wise to obey the law. They can trust that the FCC is ready to punish any violations."

Read the Comcast Order: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-08-183A1.pdf

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