John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

FCC to Comcast: Cut It Out

In essence, Comcast opens its customers’ mail because it wants to deliver mail not based on the address on the envelope but on the type of letter contained therein.”

— Federal Communications Commission order

Saying it wants to “send a message to the industry that bad actors will end up being punished,” the Federal Communications Commission punished Comcast with a precedent-setting reprimand today for slowing some Internet traffic. “Comcast was delaying subscribers’ downloads and blocking their uploads. It was doing so 24/7, regardless of the amount of congestion on the network or how small the file might be,” said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. “Even worse, Comcast was hiding that fact by making affected users think there was a problem with their Internet connection or the application. Today, the Commission tells Comcast to stop.”

Well, three-fifths of the Commission, anyway. There were two dissenting votes, which will almost certainly figure prominently in those legal options Comcast (CMCSA) says it is considering. From Commissioner Robert McDowell’s dissent:

For the first time, today our government is choosing regulation over collaboration when it comes to Internet governance. The majority has thrust politicians and bureaucrats into engineering decisions. It will be interesting to see how the FCC will handle its newly created power because, as an institution, we are incapable of deciding any issue in the nanoseconds of Internet time. Furthermore, asking our government to make these decisions will mean that every two-to-four years the ground rules could change depending on election results. Internet engineers will find it difficult, if not impossible, to operate in a climate like that. … Will other countries like China follow suit and be able to regulate American companies’ network management practices, with effects that could be felt here? How do we know where to draw the line given that the Internet is an interconnected global network of networks? Given the Internet’s interconnectivity, are we now starting a global race to the lowest common denominator of maximum government regulation, all in the name, ironically, of Internet freedom?”