The FCC continues to investigate the allegedly “anti-Net-Neutral” actions of ISP (and cable co) Comcast. If you’ve missed this story so far, Comcast has terminated some P2P file sharing and allegedly impersonated its subscribers to do so (they send messages on BitTorrent telling each participant in a transfer that the other canceled the transfer). FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said last month that the FCC would investigate the reports.
At the time, Comcast said they would fully comply with the investigation, but since then, things have grown a little ugly. Comcast has provided information and testimony to the FCC, but they’ve also argued that the FCC has no right to enforce Net Neutrality.
I’m not sure if anyone told them that informing a federal commission in charge of your industry that their statement on this subject, specifically the FCC “Internet policy statement, in which it [the FCC] endorses net neutrality in general, ‘was not published in the Federal Register and is not contained in the Code of Federal Regulations,’ and therefore does not have ‘binding legal effect'” is not a good way to make them happy with you.
(Guess what, Comcast? If they decide against you, that has “binding legal effect.” And PS, this ain’t governance. Welcome to administration, where the rule of law doesn’t actually apply.)
Earlier this week, Chairman Martin called Comcast spokesman David Cohen on the company’s statements (via MediaPost, emphasis added):
Martin told Cohen that one of the reasons he has spoken out against new legislation is because the FCC currently has the power to enforce neutrality principles, and then asked him point blank whether Comcast disputes that.
“We don’t think Comcast [? The FCC?] has the authority to enforce principles that it has adopted with the explicit statement that they are not enforceable principles,” was Cohen’s first attempt at a response.
Martin rephrased the question, asking him again whether Comcast believes the FCC has the authority to order a halt to impeding traffic or imposing a fine, to which Cohen responded he would “stand by our filing in this … which spends 10% of its time noting that the Commission does not have the authority to impose a forfeiture fine.”
Martin tried once more, this time just asking whether Comcast believes the FCC can order it to stop slowing down traffic to peer-to-peer sites.
Cohen’s response: “I’m not 100% sure. I’ll get back to you.”
Yeah. You do that. For a roundup of more quotations from yesterday’s FCC conference on Net Neutrality at Harvard Law School, see paidContent.