Bipartisan FCC Majority Votes to Punish Comcast

Contact Info: 
Jen Howard, (202) 265-1490 x22

WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan majority of the Federal Communications Commission has reportedly voted to punish Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, for blocking consumers' access to the open Internet.

According to press reports, Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein have voted with Chairman Kevin Martin for an "enforcement order" that would require Comcast to stop blocking and publicly disclose its "network management" practices. The order is adopted once all five commissioners have cast their votes.

Last fall, tests by the Associated Press and others exposed that Comcast was blocking users' legal peer-to-peer traffic by sending fake signals that cut off the connection between file-sharers. The Max Planck Institute in Germany later confirmed that Comcast was blocking peer-to-peer traffic at all times of the day and night -- not just during times of peak Internet use.

Today's vote follows a months-long FCC investigation, launched in response to filings by Free Press and members of the SavetheInternet.com Coalition, urging the federal agency to stop Comcast's harmful blocking. Since January, tens of thousands of people have filed comments with the commission, and hundreds have attended public hearings at Harvard, Stanford and Carnegie Mellon universities.

Marvin Ammori, general counsel of Free Press and author of the filings, made the following statement:

"This vote reflects the bipartisan support for protecting consumers' access to the free and open Internet. Comcast's blocking is a flagrant violation of the online rights established by the FCC. If adopted, this order would send a strong signal to the marketplace that arbitrarily interfering with users' online choices is not acceptable. Internet service providers do not get to decide the winners and losers online.

"Should Comcast finally be held accountable for its illegal practices, it will be the direct result of historic public involvement in this precedent-setting debate. We look forward to seeing the order, and commend the FCC for conducting such a thorough investigation on behalf of Internet users everywhere."

Petition for Declaratory Ruling:
http://www.freepress.net/docs/fp_et_al_nn_declaratory_ruling.pdf
Comcast Complaint:
http://www.freepress.net/docs/fp_pk_comcast_complaint.pdf

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