Cable giant Comcast is once again denying it throttles BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer traffic just as consumer groups are asking the Federal Communications Commission to stop Comcast from interfering with the traffic and U.S. senators are threatening investigations.
In a statement released late Thursday, Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen said, “Comcast does not, has not, and will not block any Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services, and no one has demonstrated otherwise. 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.”
Ben Scott, policy director of the advocacy group Free Press, disagrees. “Comcast’s defense is bogus,” he said in a statement. “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.”
Free Press is asking the FCC to permanently bar Comcast from blocking P2P traffic and fine the company $195,000– $97,500 for discrimination and $97,500 for deception—for each consumer affected by the problem. With more almost 13 million Comcast customers, that could add up.
The issue blew up last month when the Associated Press, through a series of tests, determined that Comcast was throttling uploads of completed files exchanged on the BitTorrent network. Comcast received a second black eye when an internal memo of talking points on how to handle the situation was leaked to a blog called The Consumerist.
This prompted Senators Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, to send a letter to Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, requesting an investigation into this incident and an unrelated incident involving Verizon and an abortion-rights group.
“The phone and cable companies have previously stated that they would never use their market power to operate as content gatekeepers and have called efforts to put rules in place to protect consumers ‘a solution in search of a problem,'” they wrote in the letter.